John Watson, aka Prolly, has documented everything from epic alleycats and up-and-coming fixed gear free style riders, to the latest in urban cycling trends (and even a death metal album or two) since 2006, wrenching it all together on his blog: Prolly Is Not Probably. Starting out as the voice for New York City's fixed freestyle culture, Prolly has pedaled into a successful career on the blogosphere over the past five years, traveling around the globe from San Francisco to Australia, providing us with a taste of what those greasy bike meccas have to offer. I met up with the "#fixiefamous" cycle god himself where he now resides in Austin, Tejas, to juice his brain on various subjects.
SLUG: Why did you start Prolly?
Prolly: I rode mountain and road bikes in college and sold them when I moved to New York 'cause no one has nice bikes there, and got a piece of shit single speed fixed conversion. Eventually, I started finding out about alleycat races and going to alleycats and parties and events and art shows. The Internet at that point was something that was growing, and I wanted to have a way to compile everything that I was doing and everything I was interested in. It grew from there. I think once the fixed freestyle scene started getting bigger and track bikes in general, I was the voice in New York City for that. If you're doing something you love, people will notice, and if people want to support it, they'll ask.
SLUG: Why "Prolly Is Not Probably"?
Prolly: I was friends with a group of guys in architecture school … they were kind of the surfer, punk/metal heads. They started saying this thing to the super quasi intellectual students who, every time a professor asked a question, would go off into these really pretentious answers, so my friends would just go "yeah, prolly" and it started to piss them off. Eventually it just turned into, "Oh I need a ride … Who's going? John's going. Which John? John Prolly." Now I look back and I'm like, fuck, I wish I had a better nickname and I wish I'd named the site something else, because it's not very conducive to search engine optimization to have your blog not say "spinning cranks" or something like that, but I think it's also its own identity.
SLUG: You post a lot of content, how do you pick what to include?
Prolly: It's tough. It's easier now that I just migrated to Wordpress so I can look at in-post analytics. With that kind of break down I'm turning it more into a science about what I should post. Whenever I leave the house or whenever I'm done posting for the day, I think, "What's someone going to think if they go to the site for the first time?" I always want the presentation to be nice and I don't want to have some shit up there that I'm not proud of. It's a curated collection of cultural influences and that's what I want it to read like.
SLUG: How have you evolved as a cyclist in the past five years?
Prolly: As a kid I had a Mongoose BMX and a beach cruiser and we used to ride our bikes to the skatepark. New York was weird because I really hated the subway, I hated taking trains so it became something out of transportation. Then the whole fixed freestyle thing started happening and I was really into it 'cause I grew up skateboarding and surfing, and it was fun to apply this new bike handling to the streets and go and ride. At the time, I wasn't really into [road bikes] 'cause New York's not a good road cycling city. I was still going out on the road bike, but it wasn't for fitness or adventure, it was just to get out of the city. Then I moved [to Austin] and brought my road bike and thought, fuck, this is awesome, but it was really hard to ride here on an old trick racing bike, the gearing wasn't right and the climbing was something that I hadn't really experienced before. I'm riding more and more, I'm getting more fit and adjusting to the hills. I still ride fixed freestyle, I still ride BMX, ride my road bike, I still take my track bike out on rides. I feel like when you live in a major city sometimes, you get fixated on one kind of bike and your whole life revolves around that. I try to mix it up partially because it gets kind of boring here if you don't keep yourself preoccupied.