Six months ago, a ‘cross bike was featured on The Spoken, built by Julie Ann Pedalino, one of the very few female frame builders in the world. After a successful debut on the New Builders table at the 2015 NAHBS, she got back to work and has just finished her astoundingly elaborate Gravel Queen.
This is Julie Ann’s sixth frame and as far as making a statement goes, it’s not afraid of lettin’ it all hang out. That’s a sly reference to the autobiography of RuPaul, one of the most famous drag queens of all time, a hero/ine of Julie Ann and an inspiration for her Gravel Queen.
Julie Ann tells us: “The concept behind the bike is a combination of two ideas. First, and most importantly, it’s a tribute to RuPaul, whose wonderful message of having the courage to express yourself and love the person that you are has been an inspiration to me for many years.
“She has been an amazing supporter of creativity and outcast oddballs (like me!) for so long, and is an artistic genius herself! I’m not much into celebrity culture but I do happily make an exception for RuPaul!” A short stretch of the imagination could see RuPaul being very pleased with this homage.
There is function behind the fashion, though. The Gravel Queen was built for Julie Ann to tackle gravel endurance races, and was broken in at the 2015 Dirty Kanza 200. At such events it’s crucial to have a bike that fits comfortably.
“The phrase on the fork ‘sissy that walk’ is a lyric from one of my favorite RuPaul songs,” she says, “one of many that was playing on my iPod while I raced at last year’s Pony Express and when the idea for this bike started to form.”
The frame took about sixty hours to complete, and that amazing seat tube bi-laminate took fifteen alone. There are seven bows tied up in the frame, and they have a story too: “I’m a bit of a girly girl,” Julie Ann says, “I like to push the limits with fashion from time to time, and I don’t see why this has to stop when I get on a bike!
“As such, I’ve been known to wear big obnoxious bows in my hair at races. I was emphatically told by someone once that ‘real’ cyclists and ‘serious’ cyclists certainly do not wear bows and absolutely never to a race! At the time it made me feel a bit sad, but more than that it made me determined to ALWAYS wear some kind of bow at a race.”
It’s certainly a flamboyant machine, without looking lewd. The rainbow-anodised Pillar spokes are not out of place. Julie Ann elaborates: “I had a friend call the paint design ‘grown up Lisa Frank’ and that suits me just fine. Sure, it’s over the top and in-your-face, but that is most decidedly by design.”
Gravel Queen has a fun life ahead of it. “It feels like a really fast couch when I’m riding it. I’ve got my fit dialed, the handling is fantastic, and of course nothing compares to the road feel of steel! My next race is coming up on September 12th — it’s the Pony Express 120 in Marysville KS. After that I plan on trying my hand at some cyclocross races with it.”
It won’t be hard to miss, that’s for sure. Keep an eye out for it, and Pedalino Bikes too. What’s next?