FIVE THINGS is a feature on the Banjo Brothers Blog. It’s a short interview about life and bicycles with a notable person. This week's notable person is cyclist Eben Weis.
One of the most interesting cycling personalities to emerge in the past decade, Weiss was made famous (or infamous) by his moniker and blog of the same name, "Bike Snob NYC", where he writes funny, insightful and sometimes lacerating commentary about cycling.
The once anonymous blogger revealed his identity in 2010 and parlayed his notoriety, insight into cycling culture, and writing talents into something bigger— a sustainable writing career.
Weis has published four books under the Bike Snob banner, the most recent, The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual: The Universal Guide to Bikes, Riding, and Everything for Beginner and Seasoned Cyclists was published in 2016.
While most of the Snob's work tilts toward satire and humor, he's no less engaging when advocating for cyclists. His op-ed, "Don't make bicyclists more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them," in the Washington Post in 2015 and column for Outside Magazine in August of 2018, "Drivers should be held to a higher standard" are examples of Weiss using his talents and well-earned bully pulpit to defend cyclists' rights.
We hope you enjoy this week's Banjo Brothers Five Things.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU RIDING?
BS: Lately my favorite bike has been a Jones Plus SWB Complete that Jeff Jones sent me for testing this past summer. It's his first out-of-the-box bike and it's just one of those bikes you can ride all day--I mean I don't actually have the time to ride all day, but if I did that would be the bike I'd go for most of the time. You can set out with no destination in mind and wing it, and whatever you end up deciding it's got you covered, from pavement to singletrack. My only complaint is all the mounts and braze-ons depress me because I'll never have time to do a long enough ride to use any of them. Well, that and it's been an extremely wet fall, plus I keep spraining body parts due to my midlife crisis skateboarding attempts, so I haven't been able to do much dirt riding lately.
BANJO BROS: WHERE ARE YOU RIDING?
BS: Since my office is the couch I'm able to ride during the week, which is fantastic, but since I'm a father it's rare I have more than a couple hours at a time, so my rides tend to be pretty short these days. But I'll take short-and-frequent over long-but-occasional any day. Also, back in 2012, I moved from Brooklyn to the northwest Bronx, which means it's now much easier for me to get to the roads and mountain bike trails north of the city as well as the popular roadie routes on the other side of the George Washington Bridge. From where I live I can piece together a nice satisfying mixed-terrain ride without having to drive anywhere and without having to be gone all day, which is pretty luxurious for New York City and still feels like a novelty to me even though I've been living in the Bronx over six years now. (There's a dirt trail that runs north of the city called the Old Croton Aqueduct and you can use it as sort of a spine for rambling dirt rides as it runs past a number of mountain bike spots.) I also do enjoy riding in the city itself, and I have a real soft spot for Central Park, even though it can be really crowded with tourists and triathletes who think hammering in the aero bars on a summer afternoon is a good idea. For all its problems I love this city and it feels good to be in the middle of it on a bike, especially in the middle of the day when everyone else is working.
"For all its problems, I love this city and it feels good to be in the middle of it on a bike, especially in the middle of the day when everyone else is working."
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO, READING OR WATCHING?
BS: It's hard to read for pleasure when you're cranking out BS-er, quality content all the time like I am. The last book I read all the way through was MANHATTAN BEACH by Jennifer Egan, which I'd highly recommend--especially if you're interested in New York City history, which I find endlessly fascinating. I go through phases where I really binge on that stuff, which you can do really easily now thanks to the New York Public Library's digital archives, the New York Times's archives, the city's digital archives, and that sort of thing. It also ties into cycling for me because one of the things I love about riding is that you're really in touch with the streetscape and you can see a lot of connections to the past if you know what you're looking at. Not to be totally corny but the city can really speak to you; no matter where you live I think you're really lucky if you can get in touch with that sense of history, it just makes day to day life richer and more interesting. And then on top of that pretty much all my family history is in New York City so there are always personal narrative threads to follow. It's like time travel in a way, and I find it totally addicting.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU COOKING, EATING/DRINKING?
BS: I cook dinner for the family every night, not because I'm good at it, but because I'm the one who's home. Basically, I just sear some sort of meat in a skillet, or put some salmon or chicken in the oven, plus make some stuff of the children's menu for the kids. I do enjoy that cooking is kind of meditative and contemplative, and it's also an opportunity to listen to music and have a drink in relative privacy while the kids beat the crap out of each other in the living room. As for drinking, beer is a year-round staple, but in warm weather, I drink Dark & Stormys and in cold weather, I drink Scotch. I know all the bikey people seem to like bourbon but what can I say, I prefer Scotch, or else Irish whiskey. I'm not even remotely a whiskey Fred or anything like that so I'm not going to start talking about flavor notes or mouthfeel or any of that stuff, sorry. I buy whatever single malt they have that costs less than a decent road tire.
BANJO BROS: WHAT'S STUCK IN YOUR CRAW?
BS: For 11 years now I've been writing almost exclusively about what annoys me, so I'm sort of annoyed you'd even ask me the question. I will say though that now that I'm racing again after being away for a few years I see how roadie fashion has changed and it's kind of irritating. I mean roadie fashion was always irritating, but this whole post-Rapha thing with the neck gaiters and the patterns and accent stripes is excessively twee. Then a few degrees from that is the post-ironic look, with the really loud kit with lots of colors and patterns, so you basically look like a Vision skateboard deck circa 1986. And on the other end of the spectrum, there's the whole ventless-helmet-and-aero-road-
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MORE ABOUT THE FIVE THINGS INTERVIEWS FROM BANJO BROTHERS
A big Banjo Brothers thank you to Bike Snob for participating in this week's edition of Five Things. These short interviews about life and bicycles will appear every Friday 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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