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Behind the H: Laurence Wattrus

Posted by Andrew Scott on

Behind the H: Laurence Wattrus

Laurence Wattrus, Hammerhead’s Head of Product, is behind much of what brings the magic to your Karoo. It’s a labor of love, born of a lifelong passion for cycling and randonneuring.

 

Laurence realized from a young age just how exciting it was to dive into the world of cycling technology. Even the smallest changes to his bike setup allowed him to customize his riding experience to his own unique habits, expectations and style. He recounts a story of the first bike he loved. “I had a Peugeot full-suspension steel frame. It was a real tank of a mountain bike. I remember as a kid changing the tires and grips and being massively proud of that beast.”

 

Laurence, the man masterminding the magic that gets packed into Karoo.

 

“There is a ‘gear junkie’ at the heart of every cyclist. We all have such a deep connection with the bicycle because it’s this wonderful object that takes you flying into the unknown. Every cyclist is thinking how they could change things, every cyclist is constantly tinkering with this or that, which results in such a deep experience.” Cycling’s innate reliance on technology allows each and every cyclist to personalize their intimate connection to the road or trail. It gives everyone a sense of pride for the hard-earned time and money they have put into this sport, lifestyle, and passion.

 

From gravel to single track, and everything in between- Laz loves riding it all.

 

Unlocking your cycling machinery, whether a bike or a device that facilitates training and exploring new roads, is the gateway to discovering the full experience of riding a bike. “What I love the most about cycling is that it allows you to profoundly taste and feel the places you go. There is a sensory wash as you move through the air. You experience the g-forces in the corners, feel the pain of the climbs, and at times you move so slowly up a hill that even the flies start biting you. You hear your heart pound in your ears and suddenly you place yourself completely in a given landscape. People say the best way to explore a city is by walking it, and I think the best way to explore the area beyond your place of work or home is by bike. It’s a far more visceral experience than being in a car.”

 

Enjoying CA sun.

 

In 2011, Laurence moved to Riverside, California. There, he met up with a group called Team Dirty Work — a motley crew of surgeons, local business owners, and warehouse workers who showed him around some of the area’s most incredible mountain bike trails. The cycling community is the best tour guide, and it was because of the friendliness of passionate cyclists that Laurence fell in love with California. He recalls going on a camping trip with Team Dirty Work, and “Wreck” Nelson, a 70+ year old ENT surgeon who shredded trails with the best of them, being kind enough to lend him a tent and camping gear. Such trips are the lifeblood of cycling, and of growing as a person: any time you break into the unknown on a bike, you tend to find a million more beautiful, surprising, and challenging moments. Every year since then he has made an effort to travel with friends and cycle somewhere new. “We all secretly train for this ride because a little competition on the biggest hill is totally worth it.”

 

Laz during his last visit to the Italian Alps.



For Laurence, the most wonderful thing about cycling is that no matter what city you arrive in, you know you can make friends with people within that community simply because you like to ride a bike. “Most of my greatest memories on a bike involve me arriving in a totally new part of the world, an unknown place, and taking my bike and a map and making a few decisions of where to go. Those were some of the most amazing times of my life, and led me to have some of the most impactful and rich experiences in those places.” These experiences have been shaped by being part of a cycling community that welcomes and supports all, based on a shared perspective that two wheels are the best way to experience the contours of a place, to discover the intricacies of an environment, and to locate a common perspective on society. “I can link so many revelations in my growth as a person back to facing new challenges on the bike, such as racing cross-country mountain biking as a teenager, attempting a few downhill races, learning on a fixed gear, becoming a bike commuter and road biker, putting real fitness goals down and challenging myself to get to 1hr segment or FTP records. Next year I’ll be tackling road racing.”

It’s this perspective that makes Laurence constantly reflect on how Hammerhead can facilitate an urge to challenge oneself and help Karoo users unlock their potential on a bike. Laurence is driven by a desire to build the tools that enable ambitious cycling goals, to facilitate epic planned trips, and to set a new personal bar for what is normal on a bike. “I mean I still secretly want to wheelie endlessly and I can imagine software to help me do this, but with Karoo I only think of the practical stuff, the gear that I want to come back to day after day because its genuinely functional and powerful. That is the type of thing I want to build and share. We’re packing a lot into a little device, and there’s a lot more to come!”

 

 


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