Introducing new columnist John Rezell, Johnnie Raz if you’re friends. Raz has a background and a history, but as you’ll read. It’s not at all what you think.
So this is what you should know about me and bikes if you’re gonna read my drivel.
The main reason I ride my fat 2.35-inch knobbies on the road is to have the ability dive into a ditch when I hear a logging truck looming then zooming too close.
Reason 1A is the added friction those tires offer. Do you know how much more time I’d have to spend riding on 700×23 to get the same workout? I love riding. I ride about 10-15 hours a week. But I have my limits …
On my weekend rides I carry a 6-inch blade on my belt and a big bottle of pepper spray ever vigilant on the lookout for cougars that roam the logging roads I ply in Oregon’s Coastal Range. I call them my False Sense of Security. I also lug a backpack filled with survival items that weighs more than most road bikes. I like to be prepared.
Oh, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
My favorite bike is my ’96 Cannondale U.S. Olympic Team mountain bike replica that I bought off Craigslist for $150, although I do have an Ibis Mojo that I bought used — the only time I’ve dropped more than a grand ($1400) on a bike.
I generally descend the simplest gravel or dirt hill around 5 mph. I tell anyone riding with me it’s because I don’t want to exhaust my Golden Lab Summer (or previously my Black Lab Ridgely) when in reality I have no bike-handling skills and enjoy slow-motion crashes much more than fast-violent ones. Crashing always seems inevitable.
Finally, I’m pretty good at filling my tires with air and occasionally lubing my chain, but never let me touch any cables or moving parts. Ever hear the phrase “it only makes matters worse?” That’s what I do. Bike shops love me.
Yep, you’d never guess at one time I was editor of VeloNews.
That’s a fact that I try never to bring up around anyone on a bicycle, or in a bike shop, or any time cycling happens to pop up in conversation. I’m not ashamed of my past. I’m proud of the work I did at VeloNews. It’s just that, well, a lot of baggage comes along when someone hears that.
That’s sorta why I bought the Mojo, although I’ve been lusting for that bike since Scot Nicol wrote for us at VeloNews back in the day. Seriously, it’s the only bike I’ve ever lusted over. Well, that and a Hakkalugi.
Anyways, I bought the Mojo when I became editor of an outdoors magazine because I would be going to ski resorts on cycling adventures, and I wanted at least to look like I think they would expect a former editor of a bike magazine to look.
Typically at those places my reputation — as a writer not a rider — preceded me. When I would plead for pity when planning routes, my guides figured I was sandbagging. Until we stared riding …
So you can see that I’m not your typical cyclist. I’m just a dude who rides bikes.
I know, you’re wondering what the difference is.
I always wondered that, too.
When I was marketing director for Bike Friday, if I would use the word cyclists, customers would say, “No, I’m not a cyclist, I just ride my bike.”
These are folks who would pack their Fridays into suitcases and fly to Europe or Asia or Australia to tour for months on end, or mothers who tote their kids to school each morning on cargo bikes, go shopping, then pick the kids up and pack 50 pounds of camping gear for the weekend, or year-round commuters who brave rain, sleet and snow just like the mailman used to.
Fact is, lots of different folks ride bikes and even some of us get caught up in the stereotype that defines a cyclist as someone who rides a road bike and wears Lycra. So this is what you can expect from my column. Confessions of a bike rider who doesn’t fit the image that most people have about people who ride bikes. I’ll share my favorite rides, most of them scattered across the Pacific Northwest. Some are cycling classics, some hidden gems and some are just rides that only bike lovers would appreciate.
I’ll share my good days and bad days. I’ll share mishaps that would never befall an aforementioned cyclist because, well, like I said, I just don’t know any better. And I’ll share anything else that pops into my mind when I’m out rolling through the vineyards and forests of Oregon. No matter where you fall under the rainbow of individuals who ride their bikes, I hope you’ll enjoy when I share my love for riding and writing.
Time to ride.