Despite the fact that the mail bag is now at this point damn near bursting, I am going to take a second and dedicate a short post to a single idea that developed recently while on a bicycle ride. I would also like to note that during said bicycle ride, the effects of the last two weeks of self inflicted abuse almost killed me;
I like to refer to this spot at ‘The Snack Bar’. You can sit and eat snacks, and the well cap provides a nice table top surface. Sometimes I drink beer here, and I even have some always stashed nearby, but on this day I mostly just drank water and said bad words under my breath.
So anyway, after my return from Portland, I dropped by the home of Brian Vernor to deliver my piece for his ‘Lotta White People In A Small Room Looking At Bike Stuff’ art show, and among other things we discussed the development of the Bicycle Film Festival as well as the debacle from which I had just returned. It was this conversation that I carried with me to the aforementioned ‘Snack Bar’ when I began ruminating on what a tremendous change the face of the bike world has seen in the last five years, let alone, ten, let alone fifteen, let alone twenty.
As a lone 19 year old, I can remember excitedly exploring the streets of Oakland late at night, jumping stairs, racing around abandoned parking structures, and leaving skid marks across marble plazas, when two years later in Denver I found myself with a group of like minded compatriots engaging in what we referred to as ‘Night Cat Missions’. The city was our playground and flying under the radar was a natural benefit of riding a bike. Bringing a ‘Night Cat Mission’ mentality back to the Bay Area, we would have weekly informal cyclocross races on my school’s campus, riding through buildings, down stairs, and breaking whatever rules we could think of.
These weekly events would wrap up with huge beer fueled derbies in the parking lot, a number of the contestants from which would usually end up partially, if not completely unclothed.
We were young, dumb and full of vigor, let’s say.
The downside of ‘flying under the radar’ was that there weren’t very many of us, and we, as Brian put it spent time ‘screaming at the wall’ in regard to getting more people on bikes, more bike related events, acknowledgment on the road, trail access, and just generally more attention cast in our ilk’s direction.
Fast forward two short decades, and there I was standing at the King Precision Components facility, in an absolute crush of humanity, all of whom where there in celebration of one thing. People old enough to be my very young parents, and people young enough to be my very old kids standing shoulder to shoulder, drinking in the celebration of that one thing we all have in common.
Then my mind spins away from that to the staggering number of fixed gear edits, bike art shows, girl bike gangs, more non-messengers attending Messenger Worlds than actual, working messengers, big budget remakes of Quicksilver;
failed television shows, (not to be mistaken with failed television shows), magazines, coffee table books, and the occasional state senator eager to strip all funding from bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
This of course isn’t even mentioning the glut of GranFondo rides, the most the recent of which attracted by some estimates, upwards to 7,500 cyclists, and so on.
It seems as though the general population is starting to like bicycles.
I broached the topic a few times this past weekend at the previously mentioned Rapha art show with various folks and regardless of if they were reasonably fresh on the scene, or a seasoned veteran in the two wheeled trenches;
everyone I spoke with on the matter seemed to more or less be on the same page.
Truly, though I suppose depending on your perspective, this is an exciting time to be a cyclist. Occasionally a bit exasperating perhaps, but exciting none the less.
As far as Brian’s comment about screaming at walls goes, it looks as if for better or worse, the wall is finally starting to listen.