Category: Observation

Herlihy Talk

David Herlihy — the author of The Lost Cyclist and Bicycle: The History — recently gave a terrific presentation on the portrayal of cycling in Puckan important turn of the 20th century humor magazine. The event was hosted by REI Soho in the sub basement of the historic building where Puck was edited and printed. Throughout, he weaved details from the history of cycling, including stories of the influence of Frank Lenz on the American popular imagination regarding the possibilities and promise of bicycle travel. Herlihy’s warm style and thoughtful responses to questions kept the audience engaged, and the images were amusing and informative.

What came through clearly is just how remarkable a cultural moment the advent of the bicycle was. The very idea of self powered mobility that was accessible regardless, to a degree, of class, gender, or race was transformative. The safety bicycle was not merely practical but also provocative and symbolic. The fact that bicycles figure so prominently in social commentary cartoons shows that this wasn’t latent or happening below awareness. Readers could readily make sense of the deep changes being portrayed by cartoons of women leaving their children with their husbands to ride around the countryside in knickers, or of a Rockefeller riding alongside a worker, or of a pastor’s flock riding past the church on a Sunday morning. Obviously, the bicycle was not the sole or even main cause of these changes, but bicycles played enough of a role to be a ready metaphor for them. Moreover, pressure to develop the bicycle played a significant role in accelerating manufacturing techniques and expertise to a level where motorcycles, automobiles, and airplanes were conceivable.


Here is not for the claustrophobic, bodies shuffling chaos very close at varying speeds according to age or browsing impulse or impatience. The streets are not closed to traffic, so taxi and bus horns punctuate […]

Gathering Gear

Picturing the destination, half remembered images seen or interpolated from descriptions in books read while comfortable on a couch long before ever imagining I’d visit there. Reading a few other people’s packing lists and past […]

Wrong Bike

Is there such a thing? Sure, if you focus on the very ends of various spectra. There are times when there is a right bike: full suspension for high speed super chunky descents, a time […]

Parks and Rides

Zion National Park

I remember half my life ago moving out West into gritscapes, furnace sunrises, impossible canyons and skies, cottonwoods. Where true myths like national parks or limitless wilderness were invented as a complement to wishful libertarian graspings, the ranches, railroad towns, mining claims, mountain enclaves. And now the glinty waterwasteful clean modern America superimposed in a dappled here and there.

I don’t live there anymore but the vital road tripping bikepacking high speed skinny tire touring hiking boots visits find their way into every future.

(Apologies for the awful pun of the title.)

Zion National Park

Mojave National Preserve

Joshua Tree National Park

Above St. George, UT (on the doucherocket)