I am unsure of the reason, and even more so of the cause. As a young child, riding the bicycle meant freedom and it touched the first ideas about infinite possibilities. It truly was exhilarating.

It wasn’t until I was half way through undergrad that I reexamined my life. Between work and school, I expected to be satisfied, only to find I was still missing an emotional completeness. I am not sure what drove me to purchase a bicycle, I definitely couldn’t afford it, being a student.

Five to ten to twenty, the distance in miles continually increased. Why wasn’t there satisfaction with five? What was the purpose of cycling longer distances? It was not a instant revelation, but I somehow realized I was trying to find the initial exhilarating feeling I once had as a child. It did come.

It starts to turn into an escape, one that would seem destructive. Instead of facing personal, educational, and employment issues, I would cycle them away almost as simply as an alcoholic would with a sip.

I turned into what I would consider an excellent cyclist at the cost of losing emotion. I was deaf to anger and hate, and eventually was indifferent to rather obvious moral situations.

I then began to blame the bike, as if it had some sort of reason for drawing me toward it. I was pitiful. I left it to attract dust.

There wasn’t a defining moment when I decided to try to ride again. I just remember smiling and then pedaling. That order of actions proved to myself that I was off-base to blame situations on that escape. Regardless of the bicycle, I was alive again. The bicycle was always there, ready to listen during good and bad times; it was unconditional while I was wavering. Sorry.

—Jae Estrada; San Francisco, CA

A Little Spill

After church the other day we came back home for a few hours and then my wife, Laurie, and I decided to take a bike ride about 4 pm. We dropped Hannah and a friend off at the movie theater. We then proceeded to ride over to White Rock.

We had not been riding there in 10 years or more. We rode about 15 miles at a leisurely pace. Early on in the ride, I went a little too far ahead and Laurie gave me an earful. I slowed down to be more of a gentleman. At mile 11 Laurie took a quick left turn unexpectedly and wrecked me. My bike went down in a heap but somehow (not sure how), I put my right foot down on the pavement and skipped down the road on one foot and then ran it out so as not to face plant into the 150 degree Fahrenheit black tar paved road. 

I looked back to watch my poor bike fall and take a pretty good beating. Laurie kept going because she did not want to hear me cussing and spitting, and I “should not have been so close to her in the first place” is how she saw things anyway. In fact, she barely looked back. I think I might have seen her grinning—can’t prove it though.

A couple runners we had passed a minute before saw the whole thing happen and were trying to stir things up. One guy jogged over, stopped, and claimed he could not believe I did not go down with the bike and asked if I used to skip a lot as a kid. The other guy said, “Hey man, I’ve been put down before but not like that! What did you say to her?”

I said, “She’s my wife, knucklehead.” Then he really laughed. It was, after all, funny. I caught up with her later and encouraged  her up Flagpole Hill. That hill is steep.

—Carl Dunlap; Dallas, TX

Call for Submissions

It’s been great publishing everyone’s submissions so far, and a big thanks to all for becoming a part of the Saddle Americana project, whether as a reader or a contributor.

We’re running low on submissions these days, so we’re issuing a call for more. The summer’s here, which means we’re all out on our bikes now more than any other time of year. As we pedal, things are undoubtedly happening. Things worthy of being turned into tales. So put together your bicycle related stories, photos, artwork, or whatever else allows you to express what bikes mean to you in your life, and email them to: (Please also click on the “Submit Your Stories” page for more details.)

Feel free to submit anything, as long as it’s bicycle related, but to get your creativity flowing, here’s a little “jump start” topic: tell us what intrigues you the most about bicycles.

We look forward to reading and viewing your work, and publishing it in the near future! Thanks!

—Saddle Americana

Some of what we see

I’m constantly intrigued by just how much we see while riding our bikes. Street art—whether commissioned or not—is one of the most interesting things I see while I ride through different cities. Here’s a compilation of street art I’ve seen while on my bike. Admittedly, some of these were discovered while out on a walk, but don’t worry, since this is a bike blog, the majority were really, truly discovered while rolling around on a bicycle.

Paris, France

Paris, France

Paris, France

London, England

London, England

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Seattle, Washington

Homer, Alaska

Eugene, Oregon

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

If you’ve discovered some cool and interesting street art while pedaling your bike, go ahead and send in some photos of it, and maybe we can get together a nice collection of street art from all over the place. Seeing all this great art and incredible painting is yet another bonus for getting out and pedaling!