THERE'S NO SHAME in admitting that I'm an avid reader of Bike Snob's popular, inside-jokey, long-winded, and sneering NYC-based blog (bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com). But the Snob himself remained in the closet for years; he only unveiled his true identity just before embarking on a tour for his genuine dead-tree book, Bike Snob: Systematically and Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling. Maybe it's having to put his actual name (Eben Weiss, BTW) on his work, or maybe it's the heart-melting arrival of his new baby, but the book tosses most of the blog's hipster-crushing snobbery in favor of a sincere tone, grounding it in a love of cycling rather than a ridiculing of those who bike ridiculously. It's a good choice—I doubt I could have made it through 222 Blogspot pages, but I ate the book up. It's a solid, hilarious, insightful primer for all who want cycling to be more accessible and everyday and who roll their eyes at the intimidatingly Spandexed and fixed geared.
MERCURY: How did you approach writing the book differently than the blog?
EBEN WEISS: It's a quieter, more contemplative process, which is why the tone of it is different. And I'm also thinking less about highly specific things than I am about why I like to ride and what I'd like to share with people and about saying something that's not going to be stale in a week.
Your book is really actually very sweet and sincere. In the middle you talk about learning to ride a bike and you describe the bike as being your bliss and it's not snide or snobby at all.
A book's more personal. It's more personal to write and it's more personal to read. Someone is sitting down with a book. It's just you and the book. Whereas on the blog, it's a group enterprise because although I'm writing it, there are people in the comments and posting links and videos. It's a group thing—it's dynamic. It's okay to be yourself a little more in the book. The blog has its tone, it's its own thing. It's me but it's not me.
Do you evangelize to your friends in New York who don't ride bikes?
No, no! The person I had in mind when I wrote the book wasn't someone who was just not interested in riding a bike. There's always going to be people who will just not ride no matter what and that's okay.
You know you're coming to Portland during Pedalpalooza, a big bike-fun festival where anyone can lead a bike ride. Which ride are you going to lead?
I dunno if I'm cut out to lead a ride. I saw someone on a Portland fixed gear forum say there should be a 2008 theme ride for me because that's the last time my blog was worth anything. So maybe I'll do that, I'll lead the "2008 Bike Snob Is Over" ride.
Don't tell me you're taking your cues from online fixed gear forums.
Come on! That's the pulse! Fixed gear forums are the lifeblood of bike culture, right?
I hope not.
Yeah. Well, I'll have to look at that schedule, I'm only there for that one day, because I've got the baby coming. And then, on that same forum someone said he would kick me in the nuts if he saw me, so I dunno, I might not survive coming back to Portland.Click here for a complete transcript of the Mercury's interview with Eben Weiss.