Blood In, Blood Out – Written By djonnymac
Jesse Lalonde is a regular dude- a regular dude who gets a lot accomplished with little fanfare, content to let the accomplishments speak for themselves. WORS Elite champ, Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 overall winner (on a single speed no less), H8TR100 victor, a regular fixture on the Wisco CX podium in years past, co-founder of the Bareknuckle Brigade with his brother Mark, graphic maker currently for TwinSix, artist/designer/tinkerer/instigator, husband and father.
Jesse has logged countless thousands of miles over the years racing, riding and commuting and the one thing that’s always been obvious is that he means to push the boundaries- of himself, of the bike, of the landscape, all the while taking in what’s around him and letting that inform what comes next. This last winter Jesse pushed another boundary by hitting the trails around Minneapolis on a Surly Moonlander with a win at the Fatbike Frozen 40 in Elm Creek MN and a second place at the Fat Bike Birkie.
For some biking is like breathing- completely second nature and automatic and Jesse Lalonde is one such person, always with an eye open for the next trail and the next challenge.
Let the ramble begin….Background check
djonnymac – Could you describe your northern Wisco upbringing/family and how it informs your life now? Is there anything about that comparative isolation that gets it done?
Jesse – I was born in Ely, Mn. My dad was a member of the US forest service and spent his days in the woods. At this time we lived in the small unincorporated town of Isabella. Given the distance between towns and school districts my parents made the conscience decision to migrate south. 3 kids later (Jesse, Mark, James) we ended up in Park Falls, WI. With my dads career revolving around the outdoors it was naturally passed on to us. We spent a lot of time hiking, camping, chopping wood, skateboarding and following the old man around with his shot gun. He was always eager to teach us the way of the woods and the respect you must have for it. Hard work paralleled our family ventures which translated well into our love for silent sports. My parents were always supportive of our endeavors and limits were nonexistent. In retrospect those endeavors were what made us who we are today.
djonnymac – The BKB/TwinSix family seems to be very important to you- what do you draw from them?
Jesse – Unbreakable support, tomfoolery, and pedaling shenanigans with a shot of perseverance.
djonnymac – The LaLonde brothers- brothers or a gang?
Jesse – Blood brothers… death before dishonor
djonnymac – Speaking of gangs- The BKB, WTF? (how? why? who? etc.)
Jesse – The BkB was established in 2005 and stands for Bareknuckle Brigade which refers to a gloves off approach to riding. Exploring physical and mental boundaries through cycling unites the brotherhood while a spirit for the uncharted remains at the core.
djonnymac – Are there any major misconceptions about the BKB? For example someone asked me once if it were true that you had to have tattoos to belong. I said no, but blood letting was a given.
Jesse – Can’t say I’ve heard that one even though I understand how one might draw that conclusion. At one point rigid single speeders seem to consume the group. Years ago I overheard a comment regarding a north woods initiation ritual that I can neither confirm or deny.
djonnymac – Bikers, skaters, artists- forward momentum vs. static life- One of Strummer’s Laws was that to get output you must have input. Agree?
Jesse – Forever forward.
djonnymac – Ink and paper, pixels and screen – I know art plays a major part in your professional life and in general so a few questions there: Who and what have influenced your art directly or indirectly?
Jesse – Skateboarding, #2 pencils, the 715, sharp knifes, northern lights, wandering, death, unpaved roads, getting lost, mid century architecture, tree forts, FLW, constellations, graves disease, pine forests, Usonia, natural phenomenons, being outside.
djonnymac – Any particular artists or movements you feel drawn to? Not necessarily as an influence but as something you recognize or feel an affinity for?
Jesse – Neil Blender, the Gonz, Alien Workshop, Ed Templeton, Louis L’Amore, Charley Harper, George Retseck, Charles Eames, George Nelson and the rest of those mad men of mid-century modern design.
djonnymac – Are you as comfortable with ink and paper as a Mac?
Jesse – Yes, but these days macs rule everything around me.
djonnymac – Clean aesthetic or spontaneous creation with the rough edges kept in?
Jesse – Whatever it takes as long as you wash your hands afterwards.
djonnymac – Thinking in terms of your work leading up to T6 and Trek before that, how do bikes etc. figure into the process? Can they initiate an idea or does the idea get applied to the bike? I guess what I’m trying to ask is do bikes and jerseys etc provide a good blank canvas?
Jesse – Each project is unique. When I worked at Trek the projects were driven by a core team of individuals that would typically be made up of a product manager, industrial designer, engineer, and graphic designer. From conception to completion each individual had milestones that were reviewed with the team and then eventually “upper management”. The idea being that all hands are in the middle leading to a confident product. Design decisions were generally based on research and product testing. You know, typical corp shit. Currently I’m surrounded by motivated creatives at a much smaller scale. We brainstorm on rides or in the car on the way to races. Cycling is in our blood and we allow that instinct to drive our design decisions. So yeah, as long as you have your ducks in a row anything is a good blank canvas.
Bike questions (in general)
djonnymac – Bare bones or bling?
Jesse – Bare Bones.
djonnymac – Solo or group ride?
Jesse – Group start, solo finish.
djonnymac – When you’re riding what’s your focus on? What about when you’re racing?
Jesse – The ride is something I do with friends. Without getting hokey and regardless of pace the end result is comaraderie. Racing is mentally isolating, it tells the truth, it’s honest and at times emotional. Both have Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde qualities but in the end bring an unrivaled balance to my life.
djonnymac – Can absolutely everything and absolutely nothing be going on in your mind at the same time during a ride? Zen?
Jesse – I suppose. I’ve never been that analytical about riding. I recall rides with friends and many of the conversations remain lucid to this day. Racing on the other hand is a blender. For better or worse all the demons, pain, and emotion is erased once I cross the line. Proof that pain is temporary. To answer your question, Yes.
djonnymac – Dark clouds on the horizon- try to outrun them or chase those suckers down?
Jesse – Chase, catch, outrun.
djonnymac – The chips are down, do you: dig deep and regroup, ride it out and see what happens or fold and comeback even harder the next time?
Jesse – In like a Lion out like a Lion.
djonnymac – Is the path anywhere you set your eyes?
Jesse – Anywhere you point your front wheel. All paths lead to more paths.
djonnymac – Does your mindset and preparation change with winter riding/racing versus spring, summer and fall?
Jesse – Mindset no. The motions parallel other aspects of cycling with the exception of a 35lb bike. Hydration is difficult depending on carry time and temperature. I competed in a 40 mile single track race with a hydration system at 10˚. The hose froze before I started even after I had it routed close to my body. I spent the next 10 miles blowing the ice back into the reservoir with no avail.
djonnymac – What attracted you to the Moonlander? Was bonding immediate?
Jesse – It was a starting place. My sponsor Twin Six has been extremely supportive. They handed me the bike and said kill it.
djonnymac – When the snow is gone will the Moonlander still be an arrow at the ready? I use mine a lot for general exploration etc….
Jesse – Of course, I’m a cyclist. I’ll install racks and do some bike packing with the boy this summer/fall. With that being said, I’ll be on the new fangled new next year.
djonnymac – Any overall difference between the fat bike race scene and mtb, and cx? How’s that for a stupidly broad question?
Jesse – Do we have to call it fat biking? How about snow bike? I like that better. The scene is strange. Reminds me of the early 2000’s when the corporate companies began the intro of 29ers. It had people scrambling, trying to figure the whole thing out. A lot like disc brake cx bikes. Embrace change, it’s the future. Bikes are bikes. Pedal hard if you want to go fast, harder if you want to go faster.
djonnymac – The Fat Bike Birkie- any thoughts?
Jesse – The Chequamegon area in general will always hold a place in my heart. What the Birkie lacks in single track it makes up for in atmosphere. There is a mystical aura surrounding that place that gets me every time.
djonnymac – And what about more distance winter races?
Jesse – Any excuse to get outside is a good excuse. Bring it on.
djonnymac – Right at this very moment what do you hear?
Jesse – My son Oliver chasing the dog around the house on his bike.
djonnymac – What’s yer poison?
Jesse – Beer in a can no coozie.
djonnymac – Are mistakes a good thing?
Jesse – It’s not a mistake until you encounter death.
djonnymac – What’s your soundtrack right now?
Jesse – Choking Victim, Misfits, Danzig, Elliott Smith, Metallica, Gwar, Waylon Jennings, Hugh Bob and the Hustle, Hank III, King Dude, Johnny Cash, Rites of Spring…. you get the idea.
djonnymac – Is life what you yourself want to make of it?
Jesse – Yeah man, the ramble is more important than the grave.
BkB Tumbler – http://bkb4life.tumblr.com/