Where to get RIDE 2
Intro: Eric Neuenfeldt’s “Polo”
I don’t have many hard-and-fast rules about RIDE stories, but one thing I’m sure of is that a little bike talk doesn’t hurt anything, even if the reader doesn’t know what all of it means. The point-of-view character in “Polo” is a bike mechanic and bike polo player.
The bike is the ultimate all-arounder—twenty-six-inch wheels, lugged frame and fork that accommodate fat mountain bike tires, old-school Mafac cantilevers, moustache bars with bar-con shifters.
Depending on how you count, that’s nine bike terms in one sentence. But it comes after this—
The XO-1 is his only functional bike and he needs it to ride to work at the shop the next day. That and the bike was gifted to him by his mentor-mechanic, Rick.
And it comes before this:
Rick and Chase took long rides up in the Oakland hills after work, stopping periodically for Rick’s smoke breaks. But Rick smoked rollies for the better part of twenty years and had started coughing up blood on their evening rides. Six months later he was dead and his sister brought Chase the bike with a short note from him: “Shut up and ride.”
It’s a special bike, given to the point-of-view bike mechanic by another bike mechanic who was important to him. You have to have the bike terms. You can’t not have them. Without the lugged frame and the cantilevers and bar-cons, it’s less true.
While I was waiting for story submissions for this edition of RIDE, I was also reading Tim Krabbé’s The Rider again. A classic of bike literature that deserves the title, it never worries whether the reader knows what a col is, or a bidon, or exactly what Fourteen-fifteen-seventeen-eighteen-nineteen-twenty means in response to “What gears you using?” You can’t write about that world without using those terms—but more critically (and less obviously): in a story that’s a story, that has context and structure and characters who love certain things and hate others, not knowing the precise terms won’t slow anybody down. This is a guy who misses his mentor, and he’s thinking about his bike the way that guy would. Any reader can gloss the jargon without slowing down in her comprehension of the part that matters to the story.
But it’s also nice to know what unfamiliar words mean, so there’s a “Bike Terms You’ll Encounter in the Stories” glossary at the beginning of the book. Inside knowledge is a pleasure, too.
Kent Peterson (“Made With Extra Love”)
asks three questions of
Eric Neuenfeldt (“Polo”)
Kent:You’ve got a day to show someone around your part of the world by bicycle. Where do you go riding and what do you show them?
Eric: I just moved to the Sierras in Northern California for a new job, so I haven’t explored too much. I would probably ask the person if they would like to explore some singletrack in the mountains.
Kent: You can add one more bike to whatever fleet of bikes you have now. What do you get?
Eric: In my story in RIDE, the narrator rides a 1993 Bridgestone XO-1, which is a bike I’ve always wanted. I’ve never been able to find one in my size. I think it’s the ideal all purpose bike—clearance for wider tires, cantilever brakes, moustache bars. I love the orange paint with cream panels. The XO-1 seems like every bike I’ve owned rolled into one. Rivendell makes the Atlantis, which is pretty close to the XO-1, so that’s probably what I would get.
Kent: Pick a movie or a book and explain how it would be so much better when you rework the plot to include bicycles.
Kent: I can’t really think of one, but I would really like to see a TV show set in a bike shop. Maybe a future season of Breaking Bad can be set in a bike shop. Instead of a commercial laundromat, they could use a bike shop as a cover. I would like to see Walter White adjusting the derailleur on a Pinarello as Jesse struggles with a flat repair on a dumpster-picked Huffy.
Here are the places where you can buy RIDE2, and here are Eric’s three questions for Barb Goffman:
- Do you have a favorite bike?
- In your story in RIDE your narrator notes that her bike ride slows things down and allows her to observe her surroundings. Do you think bikes have other advantages in fiction?
- Are you planning to use bikes in future stories?
Answers in about a week!
The RIDE “Three Questions” Game
- In story order, each RIDE 2 author asks the next RIDE 2 author three questions about anything, bikey or not.
- The answers go on the the answerer’s blog, and I mirror them here on the RIDE blog.
- I take the opportunity to say something about that author’s story.
Where to get RIDE 2