The Skid Stops Here: Tyler Bloomquist and the BFC

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Recently, in an article in Cycling Utah, Mayoral Elect Ralph Becker was quoted saying, "Salt Lake City should become an urban cycling Mecca." Like Becker, Tyler Bloomquist, 26, also believes in the Salt Lake City cycling community and has been sparking the cycling fires of others in downtown SLC for over a year now. One thing he's done for SLC is start a bicycle crew called the BFC. BFC is a made-up acronym that doesn't officially stand for anything, although it's members do have their own personal definitions. Overall, BFC is just a group of locals who ride fixed gear bicycles and hold events to encourage others to get excited about cycling.

Photo: Ryan McCalmon

Bloomquist's favorite thing about cycling in Salt Lake is that downtown is relatively flat. Flatter terrain is important to him because the BFC and Bloomquist sport a different kind of road bicycle—a fixed gear bicycle. Fixed gear or "fixie" cycling often blends commuting with lifestyle and art.

Just as a quick note for those of you who aren't familiar with fixed gear cycling and why flat terrain is important: Fixed gear bikes only have one gear and, in a nutshell, it is "fixed" to the back wheel of the bicycle. This means the rider cannot just coast without pedaling. In order to keep moving forward, the rider is always pedaling, their legs moving according to their speed. For this reason, riding down huge hills can be difficult. A human being can only pedal their legs so fast! In order to stop, the rider must forcibly push the pedals backward to a standstill or just slow their pedaling. This force causes the bike's back tire to skid, thus resulting in the infamous fixed gear skid stop. These types of stops are used by many fixie riders instead of the bulky front and rear breaks that other types of bicycles typically have. No, it is not the same as the bike you used to ride as a little kid where, to break, you just pedaled backwards until the break catches. If you pedal backwards on a fixed gear bicycle, you GO backwards. Bloomquist is working to advance Salt Lake City's fixed gear community by destroying the "animosity" and the "holier than thou" vibes he got from other cyclists when he first started riding. Deciding that he'd never be that guy, he explains, "Everybody starts somewhere."

He started his crew, the BFC, because he wanted to start an official community of fixed gear kids in Salt Lake City. "I would look at all of the other things going on in San Francisco and Seattle and I was getting inspired by those, but I thought, 'why can't I do something like that here'?". They often ride together downtown just to have fun as well as to promote the fixed gear lifestyle. In many cases, BFC members can be identified by their fixed gear bicycles, sometimes adorned with stickers spelling out BFC. They also have crew t-shirts and other DIY paraphernalia. Bloomquist and the BFC are working to make the cycling community more integrated by hosting events in the city as well as making themselves present at other SLC cycling events and organizations. Each member contributes to the scene in a different way, ranging from being involved at the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, to creating graphics and advertisements for other cycling events around Salt Lake. One of the events hosted by the BFC and adored by many local fixed gear cyclists is the Sunday Sprints. Usually happening the second Sunday of each month at 5p.m., the sprints event consists of people getting together, messing around, doing tricks, and racing each other for fun, money and prizes. The event is meant to be a catalyst for meeting new cyclists. The large groups of people who attend prove that their goal has been met. Bloomquist and the BFC always have an open invitation to new cyclists and they seem to enjoy teaching newbies what they know. Sunday Sprints is not only for fixed gear riders. Anyone interested in cycling can come out and join in on the festivities.

Bloomquist 's least favorite thing about being a cyclist in Salt Lake is people's lack of awareness on the roads. "I do get sick of being called faggot and hippie and all sorts of shit for no reason just 'cuz I'm riding my bike". He's quick to explain that people have misjudged him for being poor or a scumbag just because he is commuting on a bicycle instead of in a car. Tyler tries to get drivers to put themselves in his situation. "What if I were in the truck and you were on the bike? You'd wonder why I'm trying to hit you, right?" News flash everyone: It is ILLEGAL to ride bicycles on most sidewalks. Cyclists riding on the roads are merely following the law.

After thinking for a second about what advice he'd give to new cyclists, he urges new fixed gear riders to keep at least a front break on the bicycle until they feel more comfortable with skidding. For cycling in general, he warns to be aware of the city. "The more you ride, the more you understand the city and just have fun." These are sound bits of SLC advice for anyone venturing outside their front door with any vehicle fueled by a good lunch. What's Tyler up to right now? He's riding rain or shine, providing a welcoming hand to new cyclists, and going back to school in January to become an elementary school teacher. He smiles as his crew rides around on the pavement behind him. What good advice. Just have fun...that's how it all started, isn't it?

Keep an eye out for the BFC and possibly an upcoming video. For more info on the BFC and the Sunday Sprints check out: just show up for Sunday Sprints.