Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is it me?

I read somewhere that men have "their time of month." Unlike women, who are at 28 days or so, men's cycles are around 46 days. You become emotional and more sensitive. I wonder if I'm in that cycle right now.

I spent the last 24 hours with Dave Peckham from VBP. He's a guy that just lives his values in a way that I respect so much that I get sort of weepy thinking about it. While he was here, we had a small dinner gathering where I met a woman whose life work is helping refugees who are fresh of the plane -- and often one or two days removed from a loved one being shot, raped, or just gone missing -- to integrate into an American life in Spokane. I got the same weepy feeling talking to her about her work.

This week, I saw the real result of tons of work by tons of people to make Bike to Work week a success. Monday morning, despite chilly wet temperature, about 300 people showed up in Riverfront Park. My mother and step-father donated their time through my mom's catering company to make 400+ muffins and scones for cyclists on Monday morning. Thinking of them staying up until 12:30 AM wrapping and labeling each treat gets me all misty.

So, as I sat down to eat a burrito at Slick Rock today, I was again impacted after reading this spot in the "Buzz Bin" of The Inlander:

You can still horn in on Bike to Work Week. Just pedal in on Friday, then go to the party at the Steam Plant Grill from 4:30-6:30 that afternoon and impress people with stories of the irate motorists and potholes that you dodged all week. Be sure to wear lots of brightly colored spandex.

I'm used to seeing this kind of broad brush stereo typing in general media. Where some media outlet, in an attempt to be witty and urbane to its mostly non-cycling audience, reinforces the swaggering, spandex-clad, iron man-uberjock stereotype of urban cyclists.

It's usually not worth a second though of my time. But maybe because it's my time of month or maybe just because I'm close to a lot of the work that has gone into this event, this particular trivialization and backhanded insult hit closer than it usually does.

Is it me? Am I becoming one of those hypersensitive advocacy humourless bike freaks? God I hope not.

If so, I would appreciate some recalibration from anyone reading this. If not, I'm interested in knowing that too.

Full Disclosure:
Since Jon Snyder, the owner/publisher of Out There magazine (Spokane print monthly magazine), was the first to comment, I should make my relationship with him clear. I must mention that I get paid to write a monthly column for Out There. For what it's worth, all income from my writing in Out There is donated to Pedals2People.


Anonymous said...

You know how I feel about this and I probably shouldn't comment but I'm going to anyway. Inlander: what gives? You have no problem accepting BTW money for ads for our events so why be snide? It's hard to imagine them publishing a cheap comment like this about First Night or Race for Cure.


13-b122 said...

I never liked the crapy inlander anyway.

John Speare said...

Taylor: I do. I think they fill an important spot in the local sphere of print news media. Specifically: I like the Herold editorials, tom tomorrow, and they generally do a pretty good job of following local/city hall issues -- an area I think the SR has credibility issues with (fair or not -- there's a perception).

Anonymous said...

I thought the High Gear article they interviewed me for and ran last week was a pretty positive promo for Bike to Work Week. One snarky/played out reference to the event in this week's Buzz Bin doesn't undo that.

Anonymous said...

Geez John you're such a bitch. Naw, not really. The Inlander does a lot of good stories and articles, but the buzz bin is just filler, nothing more. It's fluffiness to fill up a column to keep people occupied.

Anonymous said...

But it occupies them with one of the very things we are trying to erase with the whole bike to work thing.

Anonymous said...

I get your beef; I am a bike commuter, but I have never once worn spandex or highlighter colored clothing of any kind (other than that somewhat bright, but super cool, Bike to Work Spokane T-shirt!). On the other hand, I accept that there are different niches even within bike commuting that may include more "traditionally" clad cyclists and, well, the rest of us non-conformist screwballs.

Maybe the Inlander was a little too kitschy in its presentation, but I got the impression it was meant to be lighthearted and in good humor. Besides, isn't the old saying "Bad publicity is still publicity"?

Side note: I saw tons of people out riding to and from work today who did not look like regular bike commuters and they were not wearing spandex or particularly bright colors, so I think the right message is getting out.

Joel said...

I can assure you as a writer for The Inlander (and the guy who wrote that "High Gear" article) that this wasn't meant as a shot at cyclists. The guy who wrote it (not me) is an avid cyclist and triathlete who proudly parades around our office in brightly colored spandex and has been a fervent supporter of Bike to Work Week.

A broad brush, yes. But certainly not meant as a cheap shot.

Klay said...

Brightly colored spandex? What the H? Black is in, hot pink is so 1991...duhh.

John, today the SR bike cage is full! I have never seen that cage even half full. Your hard work has made a huge difference - and for the record I am looking forward to telling my bike commuting tales tonight, sans spandex mind you.

Bobo the Theater Ho said...

Inspired by Bike To Work week, I intended to ride into work (eight miles one way) every day and did so (excepting one day, which I took off from work). I was at the Monday breakfast. I made a point of riding with my kid to her school twice this week. Of course not all cyclists wear DayGlo colors.
So, John and Jon, "hypersensitive advocacy humourless bike freak" is about right.
I read and enjoy Out There. I greatly respect the work you do on behalf of cyclists and climbers, etc. "Broad brush" and "kitschy," I can handle. But I was trying to draw attention to how the week wasn't over yet and has a nice week-ending party today.
Actually, I just wore black bike shorts and a white T-shirt today ...

Anonymous said...

nicely put, Bobo.

Thanks to everybody for a great week. All I could think at Steam Plant was, "We have arrived!" What an awesome event. Thanks Gage and to everyone who contributed to the week. I think we got a lot of new riders out there and had a great time. Flying down the Bernard hill this morning I was welling up. I am not sure whether that was the wind in my face or all the bikes out on the road...

Anonymous said...

Glad you met Dave, he's a good guy, neighbor, and friend.

I have some pics of VBP happenings at my Flickr account at if you're interested. I'll be posting some more Africa-based ones soon.

There's a chance I'll be moving to Spokane this Fall, which will be a massive culture shock compared to the cycling utopia that is Moscow. Your blog and P2P will hopefully make the transition easier for me!