Sore Butt? Greasy pant-leg? Bad date-on-wheels? Ask Mr. Bike
The other day, I was griping to Mr. Bike on the phone about how much crap I had hauled to work on my bike that morning. “Have you thought about getting a trailer?” he asked. “Most people find that once they start using their bikes to carry stuff, it starts to progress -- If you get to the point where you’re carrying too much stuff, then you might be reaching the threshold for a trailer.”
This is what Mr. Bike does: he gives advice – real advice – about bikes. It’s a refreshing change from all the crap out there about which ultra-expensive components and ultra-expensive accessories will best compliment the ultra-expensive bike most of us don’t have.
No, Mr. Bike’s concerns are the everyday ins and outs, the grit and grime of getting through life on a bicycle. Take this story for example: “I was in Manhattan one time,” recalls Mr. Bike, “and I saw this woman in a long white dress walking a bicycle.” He immediately wondered how the woman kept her white dress from getting chain grease all over it. “So I walk up to her, and I say ‘I’ve been looking at you in this white dress, and it’s unmarked and there’s no dirt . . . how do you do this? And she said ‘Well, I just tuck it into my belt.’ And she showed me how she wore a belt under her dress and just tucked it in so that it stayed out of the chain.”
Mr. Bike – aka Dave Glowacz – lives in Chicago. Some years back, he was tapped by a local advocacy group to write a bicycle safety manual. It was his first try at writing about bikes. He put together a 32-page pamphlet, which won an award for its design. “I learned a lot in that process,” he says, “Not just about publishing, but about bicycling. I thought, wow -- I learned so much about this, I should write a book.”
He took two years to do it. “I traveled to Toronto, D.C., San Francisco, every corner of the continent and I hooked up with people who knew about bicycling, and I said what do you know, what makes you smart about biking? And people told me amazing things!”
The resulting book, Urban Bikers’ Tricks and Tips, and his online advice column are some of the only published resources out there for the REALLY IMPORTANT questions: How do you ride naked? (Use a towel, a dark one.) How do you hit on someone while riding? (Ring a bell at them.) How the hell do you decipher tire sizes? (You don’t want to know.)
Besides writing his column, Mr. Bike works part-time as the Director of Education for the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and can be found giving talks and engaging in bike advocacy around the city. He spends a good amount of time just mulling over bike issues. “Mr. Bike’s new saying is just say no to derailleurs – I want a seven-speed internal hub,” he remarks. “I think derailleurs were foisted upon the bike-buying public by bicycle industry in the sixties.”
His latest thing, though, is trying to get non-bikers over their fear of biking. He admits it’s no easy task.
“There’s the first tier of people – who aren’t afraid of biking, who have taught themselves the skills to bike in traffic. Then there’s the second tier who can go out with critical mass maybe, with other people, and they will learn to be more comfortable. Then there’s the third people, people who will never bike in Chicago or Miami, because it’s too scary. I don’t’ disagree with that, I think they should be scared. So that’s why I work in advocacy at the same time. I used to think that as Mr. Bike I had the holy grail – just ask me, and anybody can learn to bike. But that’s not true – bicycles are too dangerous for a lot of people. Cars have really taken over in this country, and the environment needs to be changed.”