Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 30th, 2010 at 2:20 pm
It was big news on the bikey interwebs yesterday when the man behind the most popular bike blog in the world BikesnobNYC revealed his identity. Eben Weiss is the Bike Snob and his coming out day was a pretty big deal.
In addition to his uber-popular blog, Weiss is a regular contributor to Bicycling Magazine and now he's got a new book to promote (hence the big reveal). He'll be in Portland this June to promote it (details below) so I thought it'd be fun to ask him a few questions. Read the Q & A below for his feelings on bike advocacy, the Portland bike scene, and how he is (or isn't) selling out bike culture to make a buck.
due out in May.
You've mocked Portland in the past, now you want to come here to sell your book? Isn't that a bit hypocritical?
It's extremely hypocritical, but then again I mock everything, including my hometown. Sometimes my mocking is motivated by jealousy, and the Portland mocking is one of those cases. (Though you people do get pretty silly.)
Chances are there will be some sort of themed and/or costume-encouraged ride when you're here in June. Would you show up to something like that?
Absolutely yes, but absolutely not in costume.
You've been to Portland before and it's obviously a much nicer place to bike around than NYC. So, have you ever thought of moving here?
"Sometimes my mocking is motivated by jealousy, and the Portland mocking is one of those cases. (Though you people do get pretty silly.)"
-- Eben Weiss
I recently paid my first real visit to Portland (meaning longer than a single day), which you'll be able to read about in the May issue of "Outside" magazine which hits stands on April 27th (he plugged gratuitously). It really is a great place to ride, and I was also lucky to ride with some great people and participate in an Ironic World Championship. You even met with me even though I was a complete stranger, which goes to show how friendly you all are. Sometimes, when I visit other cities, I think to myself, "I'm an idiot to live where I live," and Portland is one of those cities. Still, by the end of my visit I started getting homesick. I've never lived anyplace else and I don't know what would happen if I tried. The pleasantness of Portland might eat me alive.
Did your editor encourage you to tone down your snarky critiques in order to appeal to a wider audience?
Not at all. Chronicle also made the book look great, which should come as a relief after looking at my cheesy blog. (I did manage sneak in some of my lousy photos, though.)
With this book and the promotion around it, are you worried that some of your fans will think you're selling out bike culture to make a buck or two?
It's not like I did a bunch of market research and picked cycling after ruling out skiing, kayaking, and windsurfing. I would hope people realize that I genuinely love cycling, which is why I write about it. I also love writing, which is why I work hard to maintain a blog that people can read for free. On top of that, I'm very proud of my book, and so I'm proud to promote it. As far as "selling out" goes, if by that you're asking if I'll continue to write the best free blog that I can, then the answer is "yes." I'm extremely lucky the blog has opened other opportunities for me too. Really, everyone wins.
How would you define the Bike Snob's contribution to bike advocacy? Or, do you feel there even is one? Do you think about advocacy at all when you write or do you think of yourself more as a literary comedian/humorist?
I'm definitely a cycling advocate in that I love it, it makes my life better, and I want it to be accessible to others so they can experience this too. That's why I especially like making fun of "cool" cycling and the sorts of things a new cyclist might find intimidating and off-putting. Obviously I want to entertain and I'm smart enough to leave the real advocacy to the pros, but I like to think I help encourage a "Get on your bike!" attitude. That's important to me.
According to stories I've read, you're buddies with Lance. Any thoughts of starting a Bike Snob Foundation to raise money for a cause?
Every day, millions of housepets are forced to wear stupid sweaters and other forms of clothing that they don't need because they were born with fur. Expect me to start flogging "Support Naked Pets!" awareness anklets in the not-too-distant future.
Bike Snob: Systematically and Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling goes on sale April 26th, but you can pre-order it now at Powells.com (and you support BikePortland in the process!).
Stay tuned for more details on Weiss's visit to Portland in June. The basic details are below.
Bike Snob book signing/event
June 20th, 7:30 pm
Powell's Books in Downtown Portland