I ride my bike to get around. I ride to feel the sun on my face and the thrill of whizzing past awesome scenery. Plus, the gnats that fly into my mouth on the trail are packed with protein. I am a cyclist. Yet, I’m not alone in finding bike culture intimidating: The gear. The super legit-looking cyclists. The tight communities around each niche. I want everyone to feel like they can be — that they already are — a cyclist, whether or not they ever buy those weird butt-pad shorts or sign up for a race.
My two Everyday Cyclist columnist predecessors, John Speare and Hank Greer, perfectly embody that “everyone gets to belong here” perspective. Greer signed off with his final column in our June issue but indulged me with a final interview to reflect on his experience writing Everyday Cyclist.
Prins: When did you write your first Everyday Cyclist column? Do you remember what it was about?
Greer: My first EDC was published in the January 2012 issue. I couldn’t remember what it was about — I’m old and it was more than a week ago, okay? [It was on Spokane’s progress toward Complete Streets].
Prins: What has been your goal with Everyday Cyclist?
Greer: Through a combination of educating people about cycling, revealing the wide diversity within our cycling scene, and highlighting the fun aspect, my goal was essentially to interest someone who doesn’t ride to try it out.
Prins: You seem to have tried every type of bicycling, from cyclocross to mastering the tandem. When do you decide it’s time to try a new thing? What are you learning right now?
Greer: It’s always time to try something new. Bike packing and making my own gear are combining for my next adventure. My oldest son and my youngest brother are joining me on the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Loop this summer. I’m learning how to make my own frame bag, porteur bag, and gas tank to carry my stuff in. The last time I handled a sewing machine, I was in a classroom with very few girls and a lot of guys who had the same idea for meeting them. Nixon was still president.
Prins: What’s your best memory on a bike? Worst?
Greer: Good memories abound. The freedom a bike gave me when I was a child, painfully riding the last two laps on my first 24-hour solo race to make sure I’d be on the podium, and teaching myself to bunny hop and using that skill in cyclocross races. My worst memories include running over my sister when I was a child, the chafing I experienced on my first 24-hour solo race, and a spectacular wipeout after not sticking the landing at a cyclocross race in Sandpoint. The good far outweighs the bad. My sister may disagree.
Prins: Tell me about your most memorable interview for Everyday Cyclist.
Greer: My most memorable interview was more a memorable ride. I was working on an article about the many rides offered by the Spokane Bicycle Club. I was in my mid-50s at the time and I attended a daytime road ride. Nearly every man on that ride was old enough to be my dad and they were kicking ass. I hope I’m doing the same in what is now the not-too-distant future for me.
Prins: A genie grants you three Spokane-bicycling-related wishes. What do you ask for?
Greer: Build a modest network of protected bike lanes in the downtown area. Make riding a bike on the roadways a requirement to get a driver’s license. Reduce people’s fear of riding on the roadways.
Prins: You founded the Facebook group GASUP (Get Around Spokane Using Pedals) a few years ago, and it’s become an awesome community for bicyclists of all stripes. What’s it about?
Greer: Initially, that was a 30 Days of Biking page in April 2014. April ended and I morphed it into a Bike to Work page for May. Once May ended I renamed the page GASUP and have tried to make something that would hopefully contribute to the cycling community. GASUP is all about sharing your rides, advocacy, commuting, racing, etc.
Prins: What’s your next big adventure? How can your readers keep in touch with you?
Greer: Bikes are for doing epic shit, right? My next adventure is riding the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Loop. It’s 525 miles of wilderness at altitude with about 50 hot springs scattered along the route. As for people keeping in touch with me, that happens quite naturally because I cross paths with so many people while I’m out riding. I’m probably most visible during cyclocross season in the fall. I’m the guy riding the neon pink or neon yellow bike, depending on the race, dressed in black, sporting a pink and yellow tie and pink and yellow socks, and stopping for every beer hand up. That last part is an easy way to meet me. //
Erika Prins takes over the Everyday Cyclist column this month. She bicycles as her primary mode of transportation. Read more of her writing at www.erikaprins.com.