The alternative bike universe
Greg de Gouveia
Greg de Gouveia, 37, is a kind of bicycle mad scientist. In July he finished a grueling 2,900-mile bike ride from Canada to Mexico in 29 days, averaging 95 miles per day. But his specialty is building elaborate, one-of-a-kind bikes and bike art, from the practical to the absurd. He’s built a 6-foot-tall tricycle, a full kitchen-equipped bike, and even a 20-foot-long, four-person, pedal-powered “lizard” with swiveling head and tail. You’ve probably seen (and maybe ridden) his awe-inspiring creations at Burning Man or in Chico at the Parade of Lights, the Seersucker Ride or the Tweed Ride. He works out of his Conceptulight warehouse at 11088 Midway Ste. B, or find him online at www.ConceptuLight.com.
Why do you build your wild, “fun” bikes?
Mostly for artistic sake and the joy of seeing others ride them. I also like the challenge of doing different things. I’ve seen lots of bikes, but never ones with car tires, or three-wheelers that can go 30 miles per hour.
What are some of your more notable ones?
“The Kitten” is a yellow bike with two car tires that really turns heads. The “Peackock” is a tricycle that’s 6 feet tall with a two-person platform on the back. I get a kick riding it and seeing the shocked looks from drivers of jacked-up trucks when I pull up higher than them at stop lights. Another of my tricycles is only 10 inches tall and is like a Big Wheel but with rubber tires that can fly down the road.
Which businesses have you built bikes for?
I built the pedal-powered generator that amplifies the music at the annual Chico Bicycle Music Festival, and the bike cart for Chico Chai, which sells teas at the Thursday Night and Saturday farmers’ markets. I also built a bike kegerator for Chico Natural Foods, and the soup bike for Cycle City Soup Co. One of my biggest projects was the original Bike Kitchen that does cooking demonstrations at the Saturday farmers’ markets. My original had a canopy, propane stove, refrigerator and water pump, but they now use a second, newer version.
Why do you think you get so much business?
I’m the only one who can take their vague, basic concept, fill in the blanks and actually build it.
What’s your main job?
I’m a fabricator or artist who does custom metal work. Before this I owned Chico Pedi Cab for 10 years, but it got old dealing with drunks all the time, plus I do my art more effectively at night.
Did you take more than one bike to Burning Man?
Oh, yes. I’ve taken a dozen of them to Burning Man over 12 years. People really have a blast with them there.
What’s that big, circular structure outside made of bikes?
That’s a giant clock I built using 12 old bikes that actually keeps real time by spinning the pedals on one of the bikes. It’s called “Time to Change” and was featured in Popular Mechanics in 2013. It’s 13 feet in diameter and uses 27 bike chains to turn the bikes, as well as the 5-foot-long hour, minute and second hands. I built it to display at the 2011 Wildflower bike ride.