LETTERS FROM READERS
PHOTO COURTESY OF: GEORGE COOK
I recently picked up my first issue of Bicycle Times. You’ve gained a new subscriber.
The main reason I am writing is, I was struck by Karen Brooks’ interview with Veronica O. Davis about Black Women Bike [in issue #19]. I am delighted and impressed to not only see an organization centered around women featured in an article, but also one that specifically highlights Black women. As a cyclist and a woman of color, I am definitely not the target demographic that the media and the industry envisions, so though we’re hypervisible — oftentimes a spectacle — women and people of color are often totally invisible [in the media]. Featuring people and organizations actively working to change the image of biking shows that it can be more accessible. Tackling the theme of gentrification head-on proves that cycling, whether for transportation or leisure, is for the people, not just the white, male, or wealthy.
Thank you so much.
I was just heading out the door for a weekend of solo camping around Mt. Rainier when I noticed Bicycle Times #19 in my mailbox. Recognizing it as a good omen, I shoved it in my frame pack for some tent reading. Page by page, the articles and reviews were as great as ever; however, I found “Boiling The Frog: A Boston Commuter Journal” on misadventures with loose clothing and fixed gears to be truly over the top. I always carry bear spray when tent camping, but I doubt anything would even consider approaching a tent emitting that much hysterical laugher.
While my bikes are all geared, I occasionally commute by unicycle. As the author relates, I once found myself in a similar jam when unicycle riding around town in my hi-top Converse shoes. There’s nothing like the humility a rider (myself in this case) finds when his laces become wrapped around his pedal shaft, especially while crossing a busy intersection full of amused onlookers. I found there was really no way to recover when the end of my laces were discovered mid-crossing and I was firmly attached to the now-frozen cranks and forced to dismount and drag the now semi-permanent unicycle/leg extremity to the opposite curb. This being said, it could have been worse. I could have wrapped both sets of laces.
Thanks for all the excellent editorials and reviews.
I just wanted to say thank you for putting together this magazine. My bike is my main transportation, as I have not owned a car in over three-and-a-half years now, after the last one decided it didn’t want to run anymore. Unfortunately, I live in a small town in Michigan and it’s not a very bike-friendly area; most of the people don’t even bother to watch out for other cars, so bikes and pedestrians aren’t high on the priority list, I guess.
I belong to a local bicycle group, Peddlers B/C, and I am also a member of the Freak Bike Nation. During the summer there is usually a Friday night bike ride every other week, and also a ride once a month on a Sunday afternoon during the winter. There are themed rides and a New Year’s Day ride — the largest group we have had is over 200. I have three bikes that are ride-able right now, and an old cruiser that will probably end up being my winter rider, once I get that rolling again. I am sending along a pic of me on one of my bikes that a friend threw together and offered to me a couple of years ago.
“Break your fast and feast well...for tonight we Smurf in Hell!”
I wanted to respond to the article about New Zealand [“Paradise Lost and Found,” issue #19] which, to me, implied that cycling in New Zealand was less than pleasurable due to overcrowding and poor road culture (as relates to cycling). Three years ago, Jim and I did a ten-day road-cycling tour with Vermont Bicycle Tours (VBT) on the South Island, traveling from Christchurch to Queenstown. Contrary to your author’s experience, we had a terrific time with great roads and very accommodating drivers. We were on busy roads with some fairly steep and demanding climbs but, even in heavy traffic, the drivers were polite and safe. (The only exception to that was a climb up Haas Pass, but that would be a crummy experience in a car.)
Since our return, we have extolled the cycling Down South to our friends and recommended the trip to anyone contemplating that kind of travel. I highly encourage folks to do it now and not to wait for conditions to get better. In my experience, waiting for the cycling routes to get better, the drivers to become more educated, and the elusive rail-trail to be completed just means other obstacles will arise and you will miss out on what is out there right now!
Your magazine does not carry the credibility it deserves because the only non-helmeted riders pictured are foreigners.
A recent survey of urban cyclists in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, indicated less than one third of utilitarian and casual cyclists wear helmets; things can’t be that different in Pittsburgh.
When reading your magazine, I find myself constantly wondering what your hidden agenda may be. At least religious zealots are more upfront about pushing their beliefs.
Why don’t you educate yourselves on the serious limitations of helmet function and use, and then tailor your magazine to better reflect the ordinary cyclist?
Hansel de Sousa
You must have missed our article considering both sides of the helmet debate in issue #14, “Butting Helmets,” and also our reposting of a TEDTalk on the subject by a prominent anti-helmet crusader, Mikael Colville-Andersen, which appeared on our website on January 25, 2011.
Yes, we acknowledge that not everyone believes that helmets are effective. However, we tend to believe, personally, in their effectiveness, and so choose to use them ourselves and portray that use in our pages. (Except for Yehuda Moon, of course.) No “hidden agenda” here. –Ed.
Awesome article by Patrick Van Der Tuin in issue #19 about the “Bicycle Men of Marion Prison, Two Years Later.” I love to hear stories, bicycling-related especially, that highlight human redemption. These men are getting a sense of self-worth, the community is getting free bikes, and landfills are not filling up with old bikes. Win, win, win. Keep up the good work!
I play in a band in North Carolina, the Wigg Report, and we cart everything by bike to shows. I also ride a mobile classroom around to schools in and out of the state. I stepped out of working in traditional teaching environments and I use my “thought cycle” to carry me thousands of miles a year working with schools, ex-cons, students, teachers, and much more. My wife runs a landscaping business on a bike as well.
And...your magazine is great, keep up the good work.
Thanks for your time,
That’s awesome, Stephen. If anyone else is in a band that tours by bike, let us know! — Ed.
SPOKE N’ WORD LETTERS WINNER
August in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the shoulder season between black flies and winter. Three other old guys and I left our campsite early in the morning to bike Grand Island, which sits in the emerald and turquoise waters of Lake Superior, overlooking the limestone cliffs of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Too cheap to take the ferry, the four of us loaded our bikes into a 12’ Sears aluminum rowboat (under)powered by an antique Johnson 3hp motor and headed for the island, a mile from shore. The gunnels of the boat were about six inches above sea level. Old guys live on the edge.
Black flies tend to go for the neck first, and the grimy, sweaty skin of a dirtbag 60-year-old biker guy is like an aphrodisiac to these tiny aerial terrorists. So after an hour or so of eating each other’s dust in a mad frenzy to outdistance the fly-bombs, we got hot and thirsty, stopped for warm water, and began sharing beer fantasies. It got pretty strange.
Our engineer pal Ray had been wearing an old backpack all day. Man, he must have been hot, but he was grinning as he opened the pack and carefully unfolded several thicknesses of old newspaper from four cylinder-shaped objects. Ray understood the insulating properties of newspaper and how effective it can be in maintaining four cans of Labatt at a respectable beer-drinking temperature. So after several rounds of “I love you, man” and other insincere expressions of gratitude, our attitudes were correct to deal with the black fly trail ahead.
In each issue of Bicycle Times we feature the best letter that we have received since the last issue, and the letter’s author will win a nice prize for the effort. The criteria for winning the prize are wide open — is it thoughtful? Hilarious? Unbelievable? So bad it’s good? All of the above? Get out your thinking caps and start writing.
For his winning letter, Mike Haley will score a Bicycle Times wool jersey made for us by Earth, Wind and Rider. This 100% Merino wool jersey sports three back pockets, a 6.5” zipper, and our embroidered logo. Enjoy!