If you have been following the shop on social media since about August 2021 or stopping by the shop for group rides or to hang, you may have noticed a firetruck sitting in our driveway or parked outside the front gate. We purchased the truck about six months ago and it has become one of the highlights of the shop.
We turned it into an extension of TCO and Rogue Journeyman. It is an full fledged “belt brigade” where we manufacture belts and bags in the woods, in the desert, in the mountains, and by the sea. It is a full crew cab truck that fits four people comfortably along with Rover, our shop dog. Our small cabin in Topanga is packed full of bikepacking and adventure equipment, which we load up into the firetruck for long days out in the wilderness. We have even started to bring the firetruck to events to make belts, leather goods, and show everything Rogue Journeyman has to offer.
We bought the firetruck after the terrible Palisades Fire that forced hundreds to evacuate their homes in southern California last May. Seeing the aftermath and devastation to the surrounding hilltops in Topanga Canyon, we realized what we had in Topanga Creek Outpost might not always be there as a result of our shifting climate and uncertain times.
We thought a firetruck might be a good last resort. If the shop was ever threatened by a forest fire and we needed to load up as much merchandise (and bikes) that we could before what we loved burned down. But after having the firetruck for just a couple weeks, we realized it wasn’t just a truck, but an amazing opportunity to load up a little of our shop and take us further into the places we love to bike and camp.
Our plans for the firetruck are still developing but we plan to optimize it as a mountain bike hauler, an off-the-grid overland camper, a fully operational mini leather goods factory, a house on wheels, and a big red fun factory.
We plan to build an onboard water system for spraying down the bikes on dirty rides, washing off equipment post-surf in Malibu, and showering when we’ve been out on the road for one too many nights.
We hope to add a full camp kitchen with stove, cabinet, and food pantry. Other ideas include optimized camp storage, an awning to cover the truck in case of emergency thunderstorms or hot days under the sun, and a bike stand or two to work on our bikes after getting back from the trail. The possibilities are endless.
Not only for extended trips, we’ve started to take the firetruck around to different pockets of LA to reach friends that may not be able to make it all the way to our cabin in the woods in Topanga.
The other weekend, we packed up the truck in Topanga and headed off to meet up with friends in east Los Angeles. We parked under the trees of Griffith Park, nearby the abandoned Los Angeles Zoo. A crazy hidden LA gem (if you have never been). Founded in 1912, the forgotten zoo enclosures are small and eerie; reminiscent of a different time in history. Built when Los Angeles was still in it’s infancy compared to what the city has become now.
It was our little decompression for 2 hours on a busy Thursday afternoon during the holiday season. We parked the truck as close to the enclosures as we could, unpacked our leather tools, and set up shop for the day. We made belts for friends that came to say hi and passersby that were interested in the firetruck. People that showed up were able to get the full experience, and they walked away with brand new belts and a free key chain or leather bracelet.
Once we were up and running we were able to pin point the exact coordinates of our location and stamp them into the leather goods we were making. A nice treat to remember the day and the peaceful spot we were able to find within the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.
The truck is fully equipped with everything we need to make belts and other miscellaneous leather goods: a 4 ton mighty wonder clicker, another hand press, an edge strap beveler, strap cutter, leather skiver, jars of rivets and snaps, rolls and rolls of leather and waxed canvas, belt punches and belt buckles.
We are excited for all the adventures to come in the firetruck. We plan to head out across the country to The Mid South gravel race that takes place every March in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Probably stopping outside Flagstaff and Santa Fe to enjoy the national forests of Arizona and New Mexico, before heading through the Texas panhandle.
Til then we are excited to continue to work on the truck and travel locally around Los Angeles and Southern California; seeing friends, making leather goods, camping and mountain biking, and soaking up all the amazing nature we have in our backyard.
Until next time, UnPredict Your Journey.