When I was in third grade, I had three career paths in mind for my future: to be a writer like Barbara Park, to be a ballerina so I could wear tutus all day or to be a dinosaur-hunting version of Indiana Jones. This column is no Skinnybones or Kid in the Red Jacket, but I squirt soy milk out of my nose at least once every couple of months thinking about my jokes. I also volunteered at the old Natural History Museum for a little while scraping dirt off dinosaur bones, and I bet you wouldn’t know from looking at me that I swap my pants for a fluffy pink skirt every night when I’m home alone. So, I’d say I’ve fulfilled all of my childhood dreams in some form or another (though it turns out that all the guys who look like Disney princes are assholes). Of course, unless I wanted to stay in a perpetual state of “undeclared,” or spend my 20s racking up a variety of useless undergrad degrees, I had to pick one direction to really focus on, so being an astute (and socially anxious) 8-year-old, I picked writing. In order to become a good writer, in most professionals’ opinions, you have to be a good reader––and reading every single Goosebumps book doesn’t count. I read A LOT as a kid. Probably half of my friends at that age were bribed by my mother to get me outside to play, ‘cause if I had it my way, I’d stay inside and read (and snack #fbg4lyfe) all day.
The thing about … well, anything … is that once people start telling you that you’ve been doing it wrong, that you have to do it their way and you HAVE to do it or you’re not gonna pass, you don’t really want to do it anymore. I stopped reading for fun about a year into my English bachelor’s. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I started biking that I felt OK enough with reading in my free time to drop the TV remote and run my eyes through a couple of paragraphs here and there. It all began with the Bike Snob NYC blog. I was working as the door girl at Brewvies––which essentially meant I’d stare down my nose at kids my age and demand to see their IDs in between writing college papers––and picked up on reading the latest Bike Snob post during my shift. He was the main influence of this column, obviously, though I only chose “Beautiful Godzilla” as the title because “Feminist Bicycle Rants” was already taken by some anarchists in Brooklyn. At the time, the man behind the snarky, lighthearted posts was a mystery to all, but he became my top “celebrity” to run into one day, followed closely behind by Tina Fey and the blonde district attorney in Law and Order: SVU. Fortunately for both parts of my fantasy, Bike Snob wrote one of the most forthright and comprehensive guides to cycling, a self-titled book that combines the wit and cynicism of his blog (and all the best references and inside jokes) with a really down-to-earth approach on bikes and bicycling. As a result of this piece of literature, the identity of Bike Snob was released (How else was he going to tour and sign autographs?) and Eben Weiss was uncovered as the man behind the curtain. This will make it so much easier to stalk him.
Bike Snob still writes a daily blog post, and though I don’t follow it as religiously as I did a few years ago, it still holds up. He has also since written another book, The Enlightened Cyclist, which delves into more of the philosophy and spirituality of cycling. You’d think he’d juiced cycling culture completely dry at this point––I definitely struggle to find content, and I only have to write this once a month––but it’s fresh and funny as ever. Even if you’re not THAT into bikes, and some of the references go over your head, I definitely recommend checking it out at bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com (You know it’s gonna be good ‘cause he hasn’t even bothered to purchase a domain). I’ve read a handful of bike books since then, and though they’re informative, they’re pretty lackluster when compared to Bike Snob. I suggest buying both books, whether you’re thinking about purchasing a bike, or have been hustling on two wheels all your life. You can order both over at chroniclebooks.com/bikesnob. The weather should be nice enough by now that you can fill a backpack full of snacks and books, and ride your bike to the park to camp out for an afternoon. I’m looking to start a new chapter of the Pagemasterz book club, so hit me up if you want