Bikes + Punk Rock = Freedom.
I was raised on a steady diet of bicycles and punk rock. Bicycles gave me the freedom to explore outside my neighborhood. Music, and especially punk music, gave expression to the angst that a kid growing up in Reagan-era America tended to feel. By my youthful definition, punk meant anything loud, abrasive, and unlikely to be heard on the radio. Around the age of 12, I witnessed art-punk pioneers Devo performing on Saturday Night Live. At about the same time, a kid named Mark Halliwell moved to town from Liverpool. Halliwell brought with him his collection of Sex Pistols records and raced at the local BMX track. I knew right at that moment, that punk music, combined with bicycles, would always be a part of my life.
Now in America, if you ride a bicycle beyond the age of 14, you are considered an anomaly at best, a freak by most. But at an age when most American youths were worrying about their acne, and itching to get their driver's permits, I continued to race my BMX, and search out the subversive punk bands that I read about in Action Now magazine at the local library. X, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, The Clash, Flipper, The Damned, Gang of Four.
When I got to college, it became obvious that the status quo was all about chasing the carrot; getting a university degree in order to make enough money to live the "American Dream." The message seemed to be, "Sorry son, but play time is over. Put away the bicycle, put away the punk rock records. You've got work to do." Bollocks to that, I said. I live in Minneapolis. Bands tour through here all the time. I've got access to live music seven nights a week. And what better way to get to the venue than on my bike? I can enjoy that 4th, 5th, 6th drink, get my punk rock on, and not worry about driving home drunk after the show. Plus, in the cold Minneapolis winters you can stash your jacket, hat, and gloves in the messenger bag, check it at the coat check, and not have to sweat through the band's set with your parka on. Unless you want to see a show at the 400 Bar on the West Bank. Those motherfuckers have some posturing rock star attitude, and don't allow messenger bags or backpacks of any kind, and yet don't offer a coat check. Apparently they expect you to drive a car. But what would you expect from a bar that charges $4 for a pint of shit domestic beer? Fuck 'em.
Oh, and I did finish my degree; English Literature. Still, I never left the bike industry and being a hack bike journo let's me put that degree to use. Sort of. But I'll never quit riding, never quit rocking. Pass me a pint!