I’ve been customizing bicycles since I was 9 or 10 years old which is also about the time I started wearing Vans shoes because these seemed to have a cultural correlative in the late 1970’s. Kind of like today. I’d ride my Mongoose BMX bike through “the trails” which was a wooded section of the semi-rural town I grew up in Arkansas where people dumped old washing machines, mattresses, and bicycles.
I dragged home rusty handlebars, half-used tires, pedals, frames–whatever I could find to swap out parts or build up a bicycle. I’d sand off rust and paint and repaint with spray cans. I’m still doing this–it’s called Oliver Bicycle Works. I’m working on some new bicycles that will be available this fall.
If You Want To, You Can Do It
Seeing other people connect with their ride is pretty cool too. I loved this short article written by a woman who built her own bicycle at a local bike coop and before she left on her bicycle that day had the realization, “Holy Shit! I can build a bike!” I especially love how she summed up her journey, “I’d already done the hardest part at age five: removed my training wheels.”
Her story reminds me of two video interviews I worked on with Boise Bicycle Project (BBP) for their membership drive about a year ago. This video with Mo brought tears to my eyes while we were recording when she talks about her experience in bicycle shops versus how friendly everyone is at BBP. If you’ve ever felt talked down to in a bicycle shop, you really should hear Mo’s story and how her attitude kept her riding and looking for a community. I learned a lot from Mo that day.
The article also reminds me of Andrea’s story building up “The Cotton-Candy Dream Bike,” her first build and it’s a fixed-gear bicycle.
Of course, this NPR journalist proves how easy it is for smart people to say dumb things about bicyclists by lumping them into one category based on the actions of a few.
Thorns, Parades, and Live Music with 10,000 Bicycle Lovers
Looking for inspiration to get on a bicycle in the summer heat? Or, looking to ride with up to 10,000 other people who love bicycles in a parade this weekend? See, there’s a vine in Boise called puncture vine that drops thorns that look like the heads of tiny goats which reminds me of that Russell Edson poem about the tiny sheep. We call them goatheads, the thorns, not the tiny sheep. They kill many, many bicycle tubes. BBP hosts a contest to see who can collect, eradicate, the most of them every summer.
Boise Bicycle Project is hosting the annual “Goathead Festival” this weekend which has a ton of bicycle related events and my favorite is the pedal-powered parade on Saturday at 11 a.m. downtown Boise. Proceeds go to local bicycle and pedestrian development nonprofits. And you could ride in a parade with up to 10,000 other people who love riding a bicycle!
If you love riding a bicycle, get on a bicycle.