What’s Your Gear? John Speare: City Biking

It’s not much of a decision for John Speare. It’s not an environmental, conscientious stand against society. He just rides his bike. He doesn’t drive much. The positive benefits it has on his health, family and community are just the cherry on top.

“It’s just fun,” he says. “There’s really no reason beyond fun. I just enjoy it and I can’t believe that nobody else wants to.” The avid bicyclist moved back to Spokane more than ten years ago and has since, shaken Spokane’s bicycling community.

The technical writer by day is somewhat of a bicycle crusader by night. Well, that is mid afternoons and early evening when the meetings take place. Speare is involved with the Bicycle Advisory Board with the City of Spokane and co-founder of the non-profit bicycle group Pedals2People. There’s probably other groups and other stuff too, he says.

More important than all his meetings and organizations is the impact he has as a cyclist that’s always on the road. “The cycling community is small enough that you know everyone,” he says. “It’s a very gossipy group of old hens. There’s the racers, roadies, bmx racers, freestylers. I love learning about all these groups and riders.”

Speare’s taken his comments and observations to the blogosphere (not to mention the ink of these pages). He started a cycling blog (cyclingspokane.blogspot.com) four years ago that has turned into one of the go-to sites for all things bike within the community and the life of this bicycle lover.

If you do enough long rides you’ve gotta have something on your brain, he says about his decision to start the blog. “Then if you start riding enough you’ll start thinking of all things bike,” he said. “The blog was just a mashing of those thoughts. It’s a good way to get your thoughts out there. I don’t know if anyone gives a crap what I’m thinking.”

The blogosphere might not be enough for Speare. One day, these bicycle thoughts tinkering around his head might actually find home in a book. His dream gig would be to gain access to The Spokesman-Review archives and research the history of Spokane.

“There is a rich history of bicycling in Spokane,” he says. “There was a time before World War II when bicycle racing was popular. Corbin Park was a cycling track, they held races from Northeast Boulevard to Manito Park. They just did it. It was a pretty American thing to do at the time.”

Until he acts on his literary aspirations, Speare will continue to support Spokane’s growing bike culture. All these discussions are necessary, he says, “We are loosing access to cheap oil; we need to start rationally thinking about ways of transporting people,” he adds. “We have a long ways to go and in some ways it feels glacial. I don’t know that cycling is the answer for everyone but it is for a lot of people.”

Here’s the alternative transportation Speare rides.

BIKE: “That’s a hard question,” he says. “I have a lot of bikes. I don’t know how many I have because the number is not static. But I would have to say my 1991 Bridgestone RB-T. It’s just a great bike, it’s putting out. It’s steel, it’s springy and it just feels right.”

TIRES: “I’m totally a tire snob,” he says, “Grand Bois Hetre tires seem to be the best.”

SADDLE: Brooks B17. “It works for me and either you have a Brooks butt or you don’t.”.

BARS: These days he likes the Nitto Noodle bar. “It’s a drop bar that’s made wide enough so I can beat them up,” he says. “I never thought I could do a drop bar but this is the bar that changed me. You can ride on the hoods for days.”

LIGHTS: Every bike that he rides at night has a generator light. A good LED generator light is something you’ll never have to think about or deal with again,” he says.

HELMET: “Some ugly turd,” he says. “I had a fancy one for a while but my wife accidentally donated it to Pedals2People. Now it’s the tester helmet at the shop.”

PUMP: Zefal frame pump. “There’s no reason to spend any time or money on CO2 cartridges.”

BIKE LOCK: Small U-Lock. He uses Sheldon’s method for locking bikes.

BIKING TEXTILES: He’s a wool person all year long. “It keeps the funk factor down a lot,” he says. “If I wear plastic I’ll stink for days.”

CYCLING SHOES: Sandals, anything really nerdy and clicky, he says.

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