My friends have heard me talk about starting a biking blog for a year now, but I’ve unknowingly been preparing for this endeavor from the time I was six, when Grandpa Jim bought me my first bike, a red, one-speed Schwinn. Since then, I’ve:
sixseven bikes (and still have threefour, if you count the one in the attic)
- commuted year-round by bike between Arlington, Virginia and Washington DC for most of five years, and still commute by bike from time to time here in Seattle
- ridden RAGBRAI and bike-camped from Washington DC to New York City
- maintained my own bike, including stripping it down to bare frame, disassembling the components, and putting everything back together again
- built my own wheels
- ridden while wearing cotton, Lycra, and wool, sometimes all at the same time
- ridden in steamy Iowa heat and subzero cold, pelting rain and the occasional snowstorm
- travelled with a bike in cars and on city buses, planes, Amtrak trains, Portland’s MAX light rail, the Bay Area’s BART, Chicago’s L, New York City’s MTA, the Vancouver, BC SkyTrain, the Cape May–Lewes ferry, Washington State ferries, British Columbia ferries, and the Victoria Clipper
- led rides for the Cascade Bicycle Club for 20 years and counting, and written the club’s Ride Leader Guidelines
- become a League of American Bicyclists League Cycling Instructor and taught classes in city riding for Cascade’s education wing
- researched and bought all manner of stuff to make riding more convenient, comfortable, safe, and/or fun
Mostly I didn’t think of this as unusual. I hang out with bikers, after all, and I spend a lot less time and money on bikes than some of my friends do. However, the accumulating body of climate-change research and a couple of months in China got me to start driving less—a lot less—and Chris Balish’s How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life convinced me to sell my midlife-crisis car, a red, five-speed Toyota Matrix. Yes, I’ve become an enviro-kook.
Not surprisingly, a bike is now much more important to me as everyday transportation, and I’ve trolled innumerable biking websites and blogs in search of, among other things, brighter lights, better ways to carry stuff, and validation that I’m not a complete nutter. In the process, I realized that information for regular folks who want to ride but haven’t spent a lifetime biking is scattered all over the Internet, accessible only to the cognoscenti, lacking in perspective, often incomplete, and, at times, contradictory. Call me presumptuous, but I imagine that I can provide an antidote, or at least an annotated index, to this morass.
I have several years’ worth of ideas for topics to cover, but I need your help in setting priorities. Please tell me what you want me to write about by emailing me at scott ~at~ practicalbiking.org, and when I’ve written something that you can augment or correct, please feel free to comment.
Welcome to Practical Biking.