FIVE THINGS is a feature on the Banjo Brothers Blog. These short interviews explore life and bicycles with notable people. Since 2007 Chris Skogen has been producing barrier-free cycling events in the state of Minnesota.
The most famous of his events, the Almanzo 100, is often referred to as the "granddaddy" of them all for its pole position in the explosion of gravel road bicycle ride around the country. While other events have diverged from Skogen's "always free" business model, Skogen continues to shake up the paradigm in his crusade to simply get more people on bikes.
In the very beginning, it was just a ride with friends, twelve to be exact. The event grew organically from dozens of riders to hundreds and into the thousands of cyclists of all types on all different kinds of bikes. The beauty of the Almanzo has always been the way it sucked people in. And not just the sort of people you'd expect. The fit guys on fast bikes came. But so did a carnival of other enthusiasts many who never considered taking on such an epic physical challenge, let alone on a bike.
The early years in Spring Valley featured carefully curated rider packets, thousands of them, assembled by hand in an act equal parts defiance and love. Handshakes and happy birthdays, then handing off the event to the village of Spring Valley and taking it back in 2019 it's been a wild ride, for Skogen. The Almanzo has since moved from Spring Valley, MN to Northfield, MN, and Skogen from Rochester to New York and now to Minneapolis.
We hope you enjoy this week's Five Things.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU RIDING?
CS: Currently there are a couple of bikes that see more action than others. The first is my Bianchi San Jose that I have absolutely adored since I bought it new in 2006. The second is an Esker Hayduke that is new this spring. One is for the road, one is for the dirt. Both are set up as single speeds because I don’t care if riding one makes me cool
BANJO BROS: WHERE ARE YOU RIDING?
CS: I currently ride wherever I can whenever I can. Life has me pulled in a couple of different directions, so I commute when I can and ride dirt in the other spaces. Mostly I tend to be a bit of a hermit.
One is for the road, one is for the dirt. Both are set up as single speeds because I don’t care if riding one makes me cool
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO, READING OR WATCHING?
CS:: I’ve been really into the latest album from The National; It’s really good all the way through. Beyond that, I’ll usually try and find some Bruce Springsteen or some old-timey country music to soothe my soul. I don’t watch much of anything and the last book I cracked open is called Walking It Off. It’s a good one and everybody should check it out.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU COOKING, EATING/DRINKING?
CS: The last meal I had was sushi rice. My stomach has been bothering me lately. When that’s not the case, I’ve been known to get a burrito from Taco Cat for lunch since I’m right behind the Global Market five or six days a week. I don’t cook much these days, but I working on the kitchen in my van so there will be a feast at some point. Drinks are water and coffee and a soda once in a while.
BANJO BROS: WHAT'S STUCK IN YOUR CRAW?
CS: A--hole, privileged cyclists are stuck in my craw. Specifically, the kind that is primed to bitch and piss and moan about anything that might not be to their individual liking. The kind that lingers around on the internet just waiting to chime in on any social media post that may exist threaten their false sense of security. The kind that has no problem calling somebody out to the digital carpet, dragging their work through the mud and then never following through on an invitation to meet in person to discuss whatever it might have been that was bothering them so much. To be clear, I haven’t spent the better part of my adult life working my ass off to get more people of all sizes, shapes, and varieties on bikes just to be met in some corner of the internet by a handful of entitled white men who seem to think their opinion is the best one...
I know that there will never ever be a shortage of these kinds of folks. Instead of venting about how much they sand they can pound, I should best get to work on how I intend to live with them in some kind of harmony...and while I’m at it, I’ll keep trying to ruin cycling at http://howtoruincycling.com
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MORE ABOUT THE FIVE THINGS INTERVIEWS FROM BANJO BROTHERS
A big Banjo Brothers thank you to Chris Skogen for participating in this week's edition of Five Things. These short interviews about life and bicycles will appear Fridays on the Banjo Brothers Blog. If you liked this FIVE THINGS from Banjo Brothers you should check our full series of past five things interviews.
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