Answers From A Bottle

Hey Stevil.

How does one find their place in the cycling world as a weirdo and a misfit? Asking for a friend.

Also, what does Joe Parkin’s hair smell like?


Joe Parkin has good hair. And it smells nice.

Hi Donal,

I’m not really sure there’s a standard operating procedure on how one finds themselves in the corner with the other marbles. Just like life in general, said corner often times a place that finds you. If you’re having trouble finding other like-minded derelicts, stick to your guns, and keep doing the thing that you love. I find it certainly becomes harder with age, because as we get older, other dirts have less time to act a fool, and thereby are harder to unearth. Eventually however, as nature dictates, like attracts like, and before you know it, you’ll eventually find your own gaggle of nine balls.

As far as Joe’s hair goes, it’s been a while since I smelled it (see: been intoxicated by it), but if I remember correctly it’s a cross between shampoo, expensive leather-bound books and Heaven.

Dear Stevil,

As the old adage goes, the road takes and the road gives (or trail as it often is). That said, I’ve found some pretty random road treasures throughout my riding days. In years past a friend and I concocted a contest where we would each fill a box with road finds for a year and then compare finds and declare a “road find winner.” Basically, it amounted to who had the best and/or most random/disgusting items. Unfortunately, he won by default because my wife made me “throw that disgusting box of crap away” about midway through the contest. I also had a friend who would collect road treasures and try to sell them on eBay but that’s a story for another time.

My question, you are a traveling man, tell us about your road treasure finds: best, worst, most random? What did you keep?

Happy hunting!



Years ago I drew an ad for the Missing Link co-op in Berkeley, and in it, compiled a visual list of all of the things I’ve found in my years of riding a bike. As anyone who’s spent their life traveling along the side of the road, or wooded trails can testify, all of the world’s detritus winds up there. Like most people, I’ve certainly found my share of various jettisoned tools, pornography, photographs, books, dildos, money, and etcetera. I’ve also found a number of purses, wallets, briefcases, cell phones, and so forth, all of which without exception I’ve been able to get back into the hands of their rightful owners. One time I found a huge chrome Stanly thermos on a frontage road, which I chucked into the ivy, where the reflective body perfectly camouflaged it until I was able to come back to pick it up. Another time while on a road ride I found a dark blue knitted sweater folded neatly upon the curb. On it was depicted a mohair kitten sitting in some white and yellow daisies, complete with a bell on his collar which I later presented to my cousin, on the condition that he wear to his musical performance that evening. The truly attentive among us might remember it featured prominently in a Santa Cruz Bicycles ad I did for the company back in 2008.

Certainly the most challenging thing I’ve come across was the body of a man named John Michael DaVega moments after he committed suicide. Eventually, after years of struggle and strife with my experience, I was finally able to have contact with people who knew him, allowing me some level of closure to the hurt and questions I held onto for so long after happening upon him.

Finally, and at the risk of sounding trite, perhaps the best thing I’ve found over my decades behind bars is a career invented from nothing, and a community of the kindest, and most sincere friends a human could ever hope for.

Hi Stevil,

I’d like to pose this question to you: If you knew at the beginning of 2020 what 2021 would be like right now, what would you have done differently?




Firstly, please allow me to offer you a very warm welcome to what up until this point has been a squarely testosterone dominated round table. Thank you very much for pulling up a chair. Having said that, I’ll get to your question, which has stuck like an arrow into the folds of my otherwise smooth brain. Besides my regular bouts of food envy in wanting what everyone else at the table ordered more than what I did, I’m not one for regret or really to any degree, generally ever wishing I’d done things differently. The last couple of years have been the most emotionally charged, and heart wrenching I’ve ever known, or as I’ve said frequently, ‘the last two years have been the longest decade of my life’. You only stop learning when you die, and even that I’m not totally sure of. I’m equipped with an entirely different set of tools than I was at the beginning of 2020, and I wouldn’t have gained any of them without the journey that followed. To say I hated the process, (like, really, really hated it) would be an understatement for the ages, but as close as it came, it didn’t take me out, and I think I’m wiser for the experience. One thing that I’ve taken away from the last couple of years is a deep desire to be able to look back twelve or so months and be proud of myself. I’ve made huge steps in these travels, and as absolutely beaten as I am, I’m not broken, so it’s my sincere hope that the trend can continue.

For ‘right now us’ to be proud of the resilience, and the strength that’s grown and developed since we were ‘twelve months ago us’ is an indescribably powerful thing, that I hope we all can foster, nurture, and never lose grasp of.

Want the life answers you really need, right here on this page? Send an email to: stevil [at] cycling independent [dot] com. You’ll be better for it, we promise.

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