Meet the Makers: Lara Kessler, Demon on Two Wheels and PDX Bag Maker

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NAME: Lara Kessler
BIRTHPLACE: Outside Philadelphia, PA
BIKES IN QUIVER:
Track: Blue TR250
Road: Veloforma F1R
Commuter/ rain/ training: Giant OCR A1
DAY JOB: Chrome Custom bag maker/ seamstress/ designer
HOBBY: Riding or racing bikes and sewing at home. I never get tired of it.
5 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST AT RANDOM:
Daft Punk: Get Lucky
Black Sabbath: Changes
Misfits: Skulls
Lana Del Rey: Born to Die
Beastie Boys: An Open Letter to NYC

How did you get started sewing and making things?
I'm all leg with a short torso. I wanted to start designing clothes that fit my body shape and were ahead of the times. It's also an under-appreciated skill that is taken for granted until a person actually knows someone that posses the ability and then all of a sudden, everyone has 500 things that need altering or repair. I like being that resource and making a little extra money in the process.

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What was your favorite thing you’ve ever made?
My wedding dress. And the Misfits Crimson Ghost Citizen Messenger Bag for Halloween 2012.

You’ve been making custom bags at the Chrome HUB in Portland since it opened, what bags have you made that’ve been your favorite?
Definitely that Crimson Ghost bag, the  Chicago Bulls Hip pouch, and the Shark Attack and Pendleton fabric Citizens, too.

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Have you encountered any odd #ChromeCustoms requests? 
I get asked regularly if I make custom knife rolls.

What attracted you to work at Chrome?
It's pretty amazing that I can say I'm one of four people in the world that holds the position of Chrome Bag Maker.  It's like running my own tailoring shop in the heart of the Chrome Portland store. I've met a lot of  cool people in the time I've been here.

What’s your favorite off-the-shelf Chrome product and why?
The Yalta Night Backpack and the Sotnik Duffel Bag. Yalta Night because I'm not normally comfortable wearing a lot of black on my bike, especially as PDX moves into the greyer months, and I know I'm very visible using this bag from that 3M reflective pocket on the front. Even better is that it's a subtle reflective coating and only extremely visible when light hits. If a car tags me from behind, I know it's entirely their fault. And the Sotnik because it's an amazing travel bag! You can carry it in so many different ways and no matter how much you pack in it, it will always fit in the plane overhead compartments.

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You’re a Cat 2 track cyclist, been crushing it in time trials at Alpenrose Velodrome for the past three years. How's the season going for you?
2013 was a transition from track to road for me. I wanted a different challenge on the bike and I had never focused on road racing -  I had only used it as leg speed work for the track. Road requires a lot more miles in your legs and it's also different muscle memory. My race season started really early this year and I went hard trying to get at least top 3 right off the gun. I was successful until about July and then my legs were pretty gassed, but I wouldn't quit. Harsh reality: I still have a lot of work to do with my development.

What are your future racing plans?
I will most likely return to the track in 2014, but still work hard racing road. My cycling team is road racing focused and it's a solid team that has developed pro riders. That is not my aspiration, but I'm going to try my hardest to be of that caliber.

What’s your favorite place to ride other than the track?
The Crater Lake rim!! Or Fairmount Loop/ Council Crest Climb in PDX.

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What’s your favorite thing about living in Stumptown?
After living in Chicago for 6 years where the only hills are overpasses, I'm extremely thankful to have so much varying elevation here. I love climbing hills on my bike and the views are gorgeous once you reach the top.

What’s your favorite recovery meal?
After all those hill climbs, I usually blend up some Chocolate almond milk, yogurt, peanut butter, banana, honey and some post-workout powder. And sometimes a shower beer.

Great sushi is in abundance here so I prefer to treat myself to that when I can.

Any shout outs?
lil bub

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