I had this idea for promoting RIDE 2: MORE SHORT
FICTION ABOUT BICYCLES without being totally obnoxious.
- 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.
Hopefully fun for both us and you. After everybody said they were in for the question game, it also occurred to me that I could add a little comment of my own about each story. I didn’t do it in the book itself because I hate when editors introduce stories—who cares about the editor? shut up and get out of the way!—but it doesn’t bother me here at the blog.
SJ Rozan‘s “Escape Velocity” is the first story, so the first questions are from her, aimed at Kent Peterson. Coincidentally, they’re probably the best-known fiction writer and best-known bike blogger in the book. (SJ has won every crime fiction award there is, and remains one of the coolest people I know despite it; and I don’t know many hits Kent gets, but it seems like everybody who owns more than one bike knows him.) I first read Kent’s fiction when he sent me a story called “Bob’s Bike Shop” for consideration in the first RIDE (which I didn’t know wasn’t going to be the only RIDE). I liked it, I bought it, I looked at his blog and found out he was a randonneur and a popular bike blogger. As of this moment, he’s helping to make my decision about what bike to buy more complicated, and I might get these pedals he likes for my folder. I chose “Made With Extra Love,” Kent’s story in RIDE 2, for a few reasons. One was simply that I enjoy his writing, but I also appreciated the older protagonist and the way the bike is just part of her life. I’ll buy a racing story when somebody submits one that works for me, but a woman riding over to her husband’s grave site to tend a little garden is a more interesting setup to me than who’s in the lead on lap three.
Well, I say that now. Watch, after I post the call for submissions for RIDE 3, somebody will knock me out with exactly that story.
Here are SJ’s questions and Kent’s answers:
SJ: When did you get your first bike and how did you feel about it?
Kent: Not counting my trike, which I got when I was three and used to try and escape and follow my older
sister to school, my first bike was blue hand-me-down that used to be my sister’s. I got it when she got a new bike. It was a kind of bike you don’t see anymore, with a top tube that could bolt in lower position to make it a step-thru or a higher position to make it a “boy’s” bike. I still thought it was girly and avoided it until I was about six years old. My dad won me over to the bike by adding these super cool Tiger hand grips to it. Esso was using those to promote their “Tiger in your Tank” slogan. I thought they were “Gr-r-reat!” ’cause they looked just like Tony the Tiger.
SJ: What’s the weirdest thing that ever happened to you on a ride?
Kent: This is a toss-up, so I’m going to list two things. The first was in 1982 when I was biking from Minnesota to California. I had a series of flats, which turned out to be caused by slightly long spokes and a flimsy rim strip. On my final flat (it had to be my final flat, I was out of patches), in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, I figured out the problem. And as I looked down at the side of the road, there was a nearly used up roll of duct tape. There were no towns for miles, no reason for that duct tape to be there, but there it was. There was just enough tape for me to make a thick rim strip and ride the many miles to the next town where I bought a new patch kit.
The second weird thing happened in 2003 when I was racing from San Francisco to Portland in the Raid Californie-Oregon. I was riding at dusk, in northern California among the redwoods. It was just getting dark and the bugs were coming out and bats were swooping after them. It was astoundingly beautiful and just as I was thinking how amazing it is that the bats don’t smash into anything, a bat, intent on dive bombing a bug, slams into my left hand and brake lever. I felt the bat convulse and die right on my hand.
SJ: What’s your indoor sport?
Kent: When Christine, my wife, read this question she said “You don’t have an indoor sport.” “Yeah,” I replied, “the only answer I can come up with for this one is Twitter.” So that’s what I’m going with.
Kent’s three questions for Eric Neuenfeldt:
- 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?
- You can add one more bike to whatever fleet of bikes you have now. What do you get?
- Pick a movie or a book and explain how it would be so much better when you rework the plot to include bicycles.