Ask Stevil

Every month or so, we collect the questions submitted to our friend Stevil and present them to him for his oracular pronouncements. And pronounce he does. Wisdom. Quippery. Quixotic musings. It’s all here. Enjoy.

If you could own only one bike, what would you pick? Do you already own it? Does it even exist?

In the Nick Hornby book ‘High Fidelity’, protagonist Rob Flemming adores making lists. (For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve only seen the movie, so I don’t know if the list thing is true to the original story). Likewise, I adore making lists as well. Top ten most favorite artists? Top ten best records? Very most favorite bikes? Top five preferred locations in which to find a suitcase full of money? I’ve done all of them, but the bikes one is probably among my favorites. In my meandering journeys across various landscapes over the years, the bike I think I’ve always landed on is a Hunter cyclocross bike he built for me back in the early 2000s. I don’t know what it is about it exactly, but I’ve never had a bike that when I get on it feels like I’m sliding into a cockpit. It’s a perfect ‘cross bike, a perfect mountain bike, a perfect town bike, and a perfect road bike. It’s delivered me to my greatest joys and carried me from my darkest depths. I’ve wrecked it so many times Rick has said that going forward, he will refuse to fix it for me, but rather would opt to build me a new one. A few years ago Robert Ives built me a Blue Collar gravel bike (it’s basically a fat tired cross bike, but now we’re just splitting hairs) which was one of the bikes I carried with me to my new life on the North Pole. Similarly to my Hunter, it’s my go-to for all of my biggest adventures, and as my body continues to transition to dust, will forever be the first one I reach for when heading out the door.

I have a hard time pushing myself to ride through the winter. What advice would you give to someone who really wanted to keep riding, but also hates to be cold and wet?

Man, same same. I honestly have no idea. Last winter being my first year in the coldest, wettest place I’ve ever lived, my primary motivator was the encouragement of friends. Left to my own devices, I’d likely spend all winter under a blanket, but being pushed to leave my house by my gang was integral. Another thing that I quite enjoyed last winter was diversifying my physical activities by going to Barre class. When the sun rises at 8:00 in the morning, and sets about fifteen minutes later, going out and riding in the cold cold and dark dark is not exactly at the top of my list of fun things. On the plus side, Barre has tested me both physically, and socially, and has especially challenged my own spatial awareness. In the negative column, the music is terrible, and I essentially spend each hour of class being the personification of a turd in a punchbowl. I don’t really know what the answer is. Find new ways to use your body or invest in all the most expensive foul weather gear and see if you can’t find a way to enjoy the chilly suffering.

What was more exciting, the first time you rode a bike or the first time you rode a skateboard, and why?

While first learning about skateboarding, the subculture, and identifying myself as a part of it all was wildly exciting, I’d likely say it was learning to ride a bike for the simple fact that it opened up an entirely new reality of independence. No longer was I just confined to my little realm that barely extended beyond the end of my driveway. I now had the freedom to intimately explore the world with my only limitations being physical ability. And that was a secondarily exciting aspect to it all, feeling myself getting stronger in real time. What’s more, even now I still sincerely love them both for the exact same reasons which if anything, tells me that way back when, I had pretty good taste when it came to picking hobbies.

Mr. Stevil Kinevil appears on The Cycling Independent due to the beneficence of our friends at Shimano North America, and because he’s a real good dude.

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