Minneapolis Stories

A little over a week ago, Lucas Winzenburg—publisher, editor, and artistic director of Bunyan Velo—hosted the first BV Evening of Adventure at the Angry Catfish in Minneapolis. A crowd of nearly 200 packed the shop and eddied onto the sidewalk to listen to stories and music and to see photos of bicycle travel far and near. It was a terrific event, a smashing success, an inspiration. I was lucky to share the stage with a half dozen other speakers and to get to know a little of the vibrant Minneapolis cycling community.

Aaron Ortiz offered a hilarious recount of his trip with Lucas in the Scottish Highlands and then down to Land’s End, laughing through weather and quirky encounters all the way. Ben and Kat talked about their risk taking, even the risk of making the first forays into touring, and the inestimable repayment of doing so. Mark read his eloquent and insightful meditation on the value of working to learn something of the places you visit from the local people there. Then Amy O itemized what she learned on her first bikepacking trip, last year’s Oregon Outback. From not having her bike arrive to realizing that GU is not ideal daily ride fuel, lessons offered in Amy’s happy slapstick. And Ben Weaver talked about Astonishment, the thing that we’re all seeking as cyclists, and he’s right about that. He played three of his songs, it was the perfect close to the night.

For my part, I shared some of my thoughts on fear. While undeniable and present, it faces its own fragility. Fear is just one voice among many when you are on a high mountain pass; the insistence of fear loses its shrill edge over days and weeks of exhausting, solitary travel; your own fear is so often matched by fear in the environment of you, metaphysically, existentially, the two dissolve each other to leave just the world; and fear, especially of people and cultures not your own, poses question after question, sometimes they have answers in knowing that human beings are mostly good and mostly more like you than different.

After the event, several us rode a short way to the city’s edge and slept on the bank of the Mississippi River. We each gathered our sleeping bags around ourselves and shivered and gasped into the cold. On a day that began with sunrise coffee on Gold Medal Hill, it ended with the same orange in stories and fire.