Carlos Galarza and his mountain bike buddies in Florida needed another excuse to get together centered around cycling, so they started the Freakbike Militia, a core crew of mountain bikers whose modus operandi is “simple people on stupid bikes.”
The bikes are choppers, and chopper culture is all about cruising. Perfect for bike paths, Carlos and I loaded up two of his favorite choppers and cruised the bike path to Oskar Blues. Not the best pedalers, the bikes are meant for leaning back and letting go. Cruising any faster than fifteen miles per hour feels too fast for these machines.
Carlos was hooked by chopper culture, and he and his friends started themed chopper rides every four months, and the idea originally was that everyone had to make a new bike for each ride. The ride themes ranged from Pirate rides to Catholic schoolgirl night and Halloween and Christmas rides. The rides became so popular that they started to amass a huge following, where tons of people would show up on all kinds of bikes, almost a critical mass of chopper culture.
Members of his original crew had names like Kenny Clean, who was immaculately clean and detail oriented. Galarza said that he was one of the few who could appreciate the little details about the bikes that he designs and builds. Another member of the original crew was Dunkin Dennis, who would come next to you on the trail and push you out into the bushes as a practical joke. Jobi-Won-Kinobi, as Carlos calls him affectionately, is a nod to his riding skills. According to Carlos, he claims that he welded together an aluminum full suspension frame that he had designed, and a well-known bicycle manufacturer stole his design and ran with it.
“When I walk through the hardware store, I see things differently than most people,” he said, pointing to the battery housing on his yellow bike cruiser. He made it from PVC he found in the plumbing section, and two fence post caps for either side, then he wrapped the whole thing in leather, so that it fits the overall feng shui of the bike.
Carlos moved to Brevard about seven years ago, as he wanted to be closer to the trails that draw people from around the world. He got involved in the cycling community and began volunteering at local races and attending trail work volunteer days. He is a certified sawyer on USFS and state lands, so if you come upon a downed tree across a trail, he’s your man.
Stop by Sycamore Cycles if you’d like to meet Carlos and talk about bikes, trail work, and if you’re lucky he may take you on a chopper cruise.