By Josh Patterson
Hurl is many things, a fixture in the Minneapolis cycling scene, a singlespeeder, an industry insider quick to call B.S. when he sees it, and a tireless promoter of all things bike. Many readers may know Hurl better as the man behind the Cars-R-Coffins brand, which started life as a ‘zine and went on to gain notoriety for CRC’s evocative logo—a casket on wheels, featuring an inverted cross and the number of the beast emblazoned across the front—printed on apparel and other merchandise. Recently, Hurl’s coffee bar-cum-bike shop, the CRC Coffee Bar & Cykel Garage, closed its doors for the last time. Where one story ends, another begins…
What led you to close the CRC Coffee Bar?
The CRC Coffee Bar was open for five years, and in that time I learned a bunch, met some great people—many customers have become friends. In 2009, a major reconstruction of Lyndale Avenue more or less torpedoed us for that year. I was working 75-80 hours a week, both as barista and bicycle sales + service. It was not sustainable, neither professionally nor personally. In January, after negotiations with a local group to take over the café while I’d stay on as the bike guy fell through, I decided it was time to move on to other things, and to focus solely on Cars-R-Coffins as the brand that it is.
So what’s next for you and the Cars-R-Coffins brand?
Cars-R-Coffins is getting a major website overhaul and will focus more on the editorial side of things, as well as more fresh apparel and product offerings—recent collaborations with Mission Workshop, TwinSix and others. Bicycles and punk rock, why the connection? Bicycles ARE punk rock! Bicycles are most kids’ first taste of freedom, and punk rock—at least what was known as punk rock before the co-opting of the title by malls, movies and morons—is very much about freedom. Freedom of musical styling, mood, style, attitude.
On carsrcoffins.com, you mentioned while growing up you felt like “…if you ride a bicycle beyond the age of 14, you are considered an anomaly at best, a freak by most.” Do you think this mindset still prevails?
The mindset may be changing somewhat, with the recent surge of cycling as a popular lifestyle for young urban citizens. But overall, in America, the car is still king. For most kids, as soon as they get a driver’s license their bike gathers dust. And Urban Outfitters will move on to the next youthful trend. Do I sound like a geezer!?
What does ‘Bike Culture’ mean to you?
Bike Culture? Like a Petri dish? I don’t know anymore. It used to loosely mean any and all things associated with a bike lifestyle. Now it seems like a watered down buzzword for urban fixed-gear riding and commuting. Not bad things, mind you, more like a catchall term that is too generic to really be defined.
About that nickname, who bestowed the moniker ‘Hurl’ on you, and why?
During college I was working at 2nd Nature Bicycles in Eugene, OR. The owner’s name was also Tom. My middle name is Earl, so I was ‘Earl’ on the schedule. Eugene is the ‘herb’ capitol of the Northwest, and our shop was a converted old bungalow. The mechanic station was at the back, and the sliding glass door to what once must have been the home’s patio was now our parking lot. One of the local ‘herb dealers’ would usually flip us a doobie when we fixed a flat or whatever. Herb is pronounced “erb.” So my pal Jeff thought “Earl” should be spelled “Hurl” with a silent ‘H’. Then I got hooked on phonics….
Bicycle-related advancement you love?
Suspension. Suspension isn’t a necessary feature in order to enjoy a mountain bike ride. Lord knows I’ve ridden my share of rigid singlespeeds. But you can undoubtedly ride faster, and farther without getting beat up.
Bicycle-related advancement you loathe?
31.8mm handlebars. While they may be slightly “stiffer” and give the perception of “greater control,” most people don’t need stiffer bars, in fact, they probably need the opposite, and aesthetically they look horrible. I think it was/is just a ruse by the industry to simplify stem sku’s.
Heard any good music lately?
I try to only listen to good music, but recent “new” music I’ve enjoyed are Tame Impala (from Australia) and True Widow (Texas). Both are guitar-heavy. Tame Impala more psychedelic, True Widow more downtuned, slow, but LOUD!
This interview originally appeared back in Issue #156. To make sure you get to read them as soon as they’re available, order a subscription today for just $19.95 a year.