More than a month’s worth of bike adventures are already in the books for 2013, but we didn’t want to forget the awesomeness of last year just yet. Here are some of our favorite reader-submitted best bike stories of 2012.
I’ve been growing as a cyclist over the past five years, and also growing as an independent designer and illustrator here in Oakland, CA. This past year has been an absolute blessing as I’ve found myself at the intersection of both passions, getting to create bike-related art for businesses, non-profits, and myself. It started with my fourth year designing a poster for ARTCRANK SFO, which lead to commissioned work for Interbike in Las Vegas, giving way to an opportunity to collaborate with Specialized. I’m currently working on art for the Bay Area’s Bike To Work Day 2013 (and trying to grind out some winter mileage out on the road).
Amanda Willis | @awillis
I’m a busy, single career gal. But, this past summer I figured out a new, more convenient way of meeting potential dates.
I raced home after work to get a nice ride in before the sun went down. I was rerouted through my St. Paul neighborhood due to construction. Not being on my normal course, I had to was trying to manuver my way through the rush hour traffic when I accidentally lost my balance and sideswiped a stopped car.
Me: “Oh, s@$%.”
Driver, rolling down his window: “Are you ok?”
Me: “Yes, sorry about that, let me just fix your mirror for you.”
Driver: “Hey, you want to grab a drink?”
I panicked and kept pedaling. It could have been kismet, we’ll never know.
Ben McCoy | @btbenmccoy
My best bike story of 2012 is the combination of two back-to-back Minnesotan weekends in June. The first weekend was the Urban Assault Ride (UAR) followed by the Westside Dirty Benjamin the next. And the reason these events were so much fun is my good friend, Mr. Adam Turman.
Adam and I have been riding together for a couple of years now. Our rides are generally longer, more casual “multi-surface” expeditions – often accompanied by a group of friends we call THE GENTS. Well, in 2011 we decided to try our hand at an actual “race,” entered the UAR, and subsequently placed 7th. So in 2012 we felt an obligation to try and do better. Unfortunately, due to a miscue, we finished 30th. We were a little disappointed, but didn’t lament our misfortune because we had a really good time. Plus, we had to now focus our attention exclusively on the Dirty B.
The Westside Dirty Benjamin was a double-first for both of us. It was our first century, as well as our first gravel race. But we had a game plan and did a good job training for it; so come race day, it was just a matter of execution. And after 100+ miles of making tiny circles, rallying one another, and meeting new people along the way, we crossed the finish and basked in the glow of our shared accomplishment.
We didn’t do anything “epic” or come home with any hardware, but those two weekends in June made my summer because I got to share the experience with one of my favorite people.
Lara Lebeiko | @bicyclehabitat
My most memorable ride of the year…was both an adventure and a disaster. But when a pro athlete asks you to go for a ride, you don’t turn down the invite. You just shouldn’t suggest going up the mountain again after having a successful first run. The rider? Rebecca Rusch, world champion endurance racer. Me? A New Yorker at 8,000ft+ elevation. I survived. And it makes for a great story. But it’s safe to say that 150 stitches later; the only thing I can beat Rebecca at is storytelling.
Dmitry Gudkov | @gudphoto
On a visit to London last April I was riding a Boris Bike (bike share bike) over the Westminster Bridge when I saw something fly off the double-decker tour bus in front of me and land in my path. It was a hat that up until a few seconds earlier had sat atop the head of a photo-snapping tourist on the open-air upper level of the bus. I saw the man clutch his now-bare head and look back with resignation as the bus continued to speed across the bridge.
Not having anywhere in particular to go, I decided to try and do a good deed. I grabbed the hat, jumped on my heavy, 3-speed rental, and gave chase. The tourist, resigned to his hatless existence, was still on the upper deck taking photos when I pedaled up behind the bus and started waving his hat up at him. I must have looked like a manic, overfriendly cyclist since he waved back cautiously. Then he saw what was in my hand, and comprehension dawned. He ran to the front of the bus and down the stairs to alert the driver that he was expecting a delivery. I kept riding behind the bus for a while until I caught up at a red light on Parliament Square and managed to pass the item through the window to the driver. The light turned green, and they were off.
Brittney Burkholder | @brit_burkholder
Somehow, by accident, 2012 was my year of the bicycle. It started when a need for a new bicycle and a little cash presented themselves simultaneously, in March… Nine months, six cities, and thousands of miles later, I don’t remember life before my flashy little fixed-gear Cinelli. On a whim, I moved, with my bicycle, from Toronto to New York City. On a whim, I flew, with my bicycle, from New York City to Portland. And on a whim, I rode my bike from Portland to the Mexican border. In the last nine months, I’ve become a bike messenger, and a bike mechanic. I’ve fallen in love almost exclusively with boys on bicycles. I’ve locked my bike up with countless new friends and old friends. I’ve watched Line of Sight and Premium Rush, and then left the cinema to wreak havoc on New York City with all the crazy cats I just watched on the screen. I’ve crashed into cars and jaywalking pedestrians and spent three days in the hospital after removing a mirror with my kidney. I’ve discovered a new level of joy in simplicity and self-sufficiency. I’ve most definitely spent more time with my bike than with any one person. If tearing down 7th Ave amongst a sea of taxis is the closest I’ll ever be to flying, that’s close enough.
Jordan Schaffel | @jordanschaffel
I rode the Austin LIVESTRONG century this year, and it was a new route. At the 47-mile mark, a huge hill loomed in the distance. Since I’m a terrible climber, I kept telling myself there was no way they were going to stick that big hill in the middle of a 100-miler. To my horror, “16%” was brightly painted on the road at the foot of the beast. While about half of the riders or more were walking up the hill, this 200-pounder, for a reason I’m still unsure, was determined to make it to the top without stopping. I saw a few riders using the switchback technique, so I gave that a try. Lo and behold, I got up that hill that locals call “The Man Maker.” At the 60-mile mark, I discovered I had new muscles that I hadn’t used before. The insides of my legs between the quads and the hamstrings had never been used (or abused) like they had been on that hill, so the last 40 miles were an amazing combination of cramping and easy spinning to complete my first 100-miler. But the memory of ascending that steep hill on my first century will always be a fantastic reminder from 2012!
Stephen Arthur | @cyclenyc
I was struck in the face with a brick by some kids who ambushed me from a Navy Street overpass in Brooklyn on 8/12/2011 while cycling home from work. I sustained serious injuries even though I was riding with a helmet and glasses in a bike lane in broad daylight.
After a few months, I overcame my injuries enough to get back on my bike in January of 2012. Not only that, I was also able to lobby NYC DOT to extend protective fencing on the overpass to protect all road users, and testify in front of the New York City Council about my experience on 2/28/2012.
I have since learned that golf balls, basketballs, rocks, car batteries, apples, ice balls, and oranges have been thrown at passing cyclists from that spot.
The NYC DOT really needs to go further and completely redesign Navy Street to make it more friendly for everyone! While the fences are an improvement, it’s still a very poor and alienating road design!
In the meantime, I was recently contacted by Manhattan Borough President, about the lack of cameras on that NYCHA properties, as a teenager was just murdered in his district, and no cameras to deter violent crime are available there either!
James Greig | @CycleLoveHQ
When I started selling CycleLove t-shirts, I made myself a quiet promise: to deliver my first order in person by bike. It seemed like a simple way of celebrating this small but important milestone in my new venture. As I’m based in London, I figured my first customer wouldn’t be too far away. So you can imagine my mixed emotions when the first order came from Peterborough, over a hundred miles away. I did the ride solo, without any training or special kit, because I wanted to make the journey as a human on a bike, not a “cyclist”.
Ask anyone from Birmingham about canals and they will invariably (and proudly) inform you that Birmingham has more canals than Venice. The towpaths, which lie under the city streets, are accessible via a series of walkways, bridges and stairs.
Largely unused by the general public, these paths are ideal for leisure cyclists and urban commuters alike.
Exploring the vast expanse of these waterways on a bike offers a fresh perspective of the United Kingdom’s second city. There’s something quite special about ducking onto a canal towpath away from the hustle and bustle of the streets above. Navigating the ever-changing terrain under your knobby tyres is an exhilarating experience.
Even in the city centre, you can find relative isolation, away from the noise, the crowds and the crawling traffic. The canals offer a sense of tranquility one wouldn’t expect in an urban area. Oftentimes, you’re more likely to encounter geese than humans.
Cycling along the towpaths offers an unparalleled and unique perspective into Birmingham’s industrial past – it may not always provide the quickest route but it’s an infinitely more interesting experience.
Adam Turman | @AdamTurman
I’ve owned a couple of mountain bikes in the past, a Schwinn Moab Disc from the late ’90s that I broke the headtube on, and a GT Tequesta from the early ’90s that I was still riding with an ancient Judy XC fork and bungee cords holding some housing on the bike. Totally ghetto. I also have a Surly Pugsley, which was the bicycle of choice to restart my MTB’ing adventures with my pals Ben McCoy, Andy Gruhn and Phil Velo.
Last summer, we went out to Lebanon Hills, a favorite local spot, for some MTB fun. I took the first lap on my Pugs to get used to how the trails worked with a fat bike and get my MTB skills back in order a bit.
My buddy Phil brought along his wife’s bike for me to “try” out. A Salsa Mamasita that was super dialed in. On the second lap on the Mamasita it hit me just how far the technology of bikes has come in the last 10+ years, compared to what I was used to on my old bikes. Flying up and down hills, hard carving corners, and filling your lungs with air and gasping for more… so much fun– especially the beers at the end.
This past year I got the opportunity to work with the great guys and gals of Salsa Cycles, and loved their bikes so much, I decided to get one. An El Mariachi 2. I don’t really have one favorite mountain biking story of 2012, but rather I have many, because each time I went out last fall was a total blast. Riding with new friends and old, enjoying good times, that’s what it’s all about.
Katy Olson | @Katy_O
I rode five centuries this year. Each was different but taught me something important. The first was in March on a super warm Minnesotan day. A friend joined me ½ way through and we had fun celebrating the warmth. The second was the Almanzo 100, where I confirmed that if you drink tons of water and eat every 20 miles you’ll be OK even through high winds, brutal temps and climbs. The third was during the Powderhorn 24 in Minneapolis, where I raced solo and made it 178 miles. There I learned that I can do super long rides if my mind is in the right place. My fourth was the Gentleman’s Ride – a team redux of the Almanzo. I learned how a good, long, challenging ride can be a meditation journey, a way to inner peace. The final century of 2012 was the Inspiration 100. I learned that if you ride your best and have fun, the results might surprise you. So get out, see your friends, drink lots of water, ride no matter how you feel and your bike will take you to great places; maybe even the podium!
Bonus Jenn Extended Dance Mix #1: Jenn Levo
One of the best things about racing cyclocross is that generally you’re allowed to dress in whatever clothing you’d like. If your outfit doesn’t seem practical for racing, all the better! This is especially true for Oregon’s massive Cross Crusade on Halloween Weekend. My team, Ironclad Performance Wear, decided to dress and race as the most inefficient thing we could think of… CARS!
I had planned to “drive” a silver Subaru Forester (quite ubiquitous in the cyclocross parking lots of the Northwest), which was to be held by bike tube “suspenders” on my shoulders. I put a lot of time into designing the look of the car, but I didn’t spend nearly enough time thinking of how I could ride, let alone “race” my bike while wearing the car costume.
With my teammates dressed as a Honda, a taxi cab and a US Postal Service delivery truck, I self-selected to start the race in the back. I knew my race was going to be difficult, so I didn’t want to take anyone else out as I crashed and burned. A quarter of the way through the first lap I thought I was beginning to get the hang of controlling my car costume, and that’s when I saw it ahead of me…the flyover.
Typically in a cross race, the flyover is a big source of excitement… and it looked like I wasn’t going to disappoint any of Bend, Oregon’s beer garden cross-loving enthusiasts. On a single speed, one needs a fair amount of momentum to get up the steep pitch. While riding my bike as slowly as possible to avoid running over my costume, I definitely didn’t have this much-needed momentum. All of the other racers were well ahead, so the spectators had only me to focus on, as I clumsily dismounted and attempted to climb the steep ramp.
I couldn’t manage to climb the ramp until a rather well-hydrated spectator screamed, “You’re a Subaru! Use your ALL WHEEL DRIVE!!!” Fueled by his encouragement, I eventually crawled my way to the top of the ramp. Once on top, I re-adjusted my costume and remounted my bike, gently riding it to the edge of the down-ramp, the crowd looking on eagerly. As my bike reached the edge of the ramp and started its downward plunge, my car costume dipped forward considerably – allowing for my front wheel to not only “touch” the costume, but to “run over” it. Being tugged forward by my costume, I envisioned the plywood splinters that would soon be in my face. The crowd must have seen the look on my face and realized this potential train wreck, too, as they all reached for their cameras to capture my epic costume failure.
The next few seconds seemed to last forever. Just as expected, my front wheel rolled over my costume. However, instead of flying over my handlebars, my cardboard Subaru tore off, and I was spared the worst of the damage.
While the rest of the race continued on rather uneventfully, I felt a little naked
without my costume. So, I made a point right after the race to retrieve my Subaru from the hillside. However, on my way to the hill, I noticed a small child hop on his bicycle and pedal over to my beleaguered costume. He picked it up, placed it on his shoulders, lumbered over to his bicycle, and hopped on with the same labor and enthusiasm I had shown, pedaling off to a group of his friends. I stood there, a little taken aback some kid had just snatched my costume from right in front of me, but I figured he and his friends were going to get more use out of it than I had in my five minutes of racing. So, I watched him for a little bit and when I felt my costume was in good hands, I headed off towards my home in my real, fully functional all-wheel drive Subaru.
Bonus Jenn Extended Dance Mix #2: Jenn Gallup
So, last summer an old friend of my boyfriend’s, who has become quite a dear friend to me as well, was in town from Chicago. He rides bikes, and when his company sends him here for business meetings, he brings his bike with for the sole purpose of riding around Minneapolis (because it’s fucking awesome.) Anyway, we rode around and zipped through parks, and rode down surprise stairs, and ripped around the dark streets of our fair city for a while and decided to make our destination one that met three criteria: 1. Serves beer and whiskey. 2. Pinball 3. Good jukebox. So, naturally, we went to Grumpy’s downtown.
After a few beers and some celebratory dancing inspired by my resounding pinball victories, I glanced at the time, cussed at its lateness, said my goodbyes, and headed home. They left, off to ride to St. Paul in the middle of the night to do whatever there is to do in St. Paul in the middle of the night. I crossed the Stone Arch into Northeast and made my way, swiftly because I’m fast, to 4th street. As I approached the intersection of 4th street and 6th Ave. NE, I saw a man dressed in a plain ball cap, linen pants, and matching silk shirt monochromatically themed in ivory.
I slowed down, because it’s 2am on a Monday night, mere blocks from my place, and I wanted to see if this guy needed help or was up to something nefarious. Well, before I could really assess what was going on, he spotted me and started waving his arms and walking out into the street to flag me down. I stopped and asked him if he needed my help with something. He pitched forward, losing his balance, regained his composure into a more manageable sway, and started thanking me for stopping in heavily slurred Spanish.
I asked him again, “Do you need help?”
“SI! SI,” he exclaimed. He was swaying as if his hips were attached by rubber bands and his only game plan in the matter of remaining upright was to occasionally pitch his head forward and gesticulate wildly but silently, seeming to emphasize some radical opinion that didn’t quite make it to the “saying it out loud” stage of communication. In other words, he was wasted.
Finally, he was able to make words, but I couldn’t understand him. Not because I don’t understand Spanish, but because the words were destroyed by his drunkenness. Then, a light (albeit, a dim one) went off in his eyes and he reached into his pocket for his wallet. I sigh, and thought, “Huh, I wonder if he thinks I’m a hooker.” Well, no, he just pulled out a small piece of paper with a name and an address on it. The address was about four blocks away. I say, “Do you need to go here?” He nodded emphatically, almost losing the battle with his unwieldy hips. I hopped off my bike, and said, “OKAY, let’s go,” and motioned for him to follow me. Walking my bike briskly on the sidewalk a few paces in front of him, I heckled and teased him to walk faster. We got to the address and I said, giggling, “There you go, princess, safe and sound,” and watched him stumble up to the steps and make his way inside. Suddenly, I heard rustling in a bush about 10 or 15 ft away and out of this bush hopped Scott Seekins dressed all in white. Grasping a sketchbook, he toddled away down the sidewalk on his pointy shoes, ducked into an alley, and with his trademarked air of decorum, disappeared into the night.