FIVE THINGS is a weekly 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 Jon Dicus.
Bike racer, bikepacker, dedicated, dare we say (quasi) religious year-round bike commuter, Dicus got after it early, tearing apart Schwinn Stingrays with his bothers. The brothers converted them to BMX bikes, rode them hard and put them away wet. Life was good.
He skateboarded competitively from age 10-15 (old school, pre-Olie era). And started riding his bike to school in 3rd grade In 1983, at age 17, he spent a month bike touring in northern France with the Concordia Language Villages, which are based in Bemidji, Minnesota. In his words it was the "Coolest thing I had ever done and my first time out of the country. I even got my ear pierced. Thankfully, tattoos were not yet de rigeur."
He vagabonded in Latin America as a clueless college graduate. The experience was his "honorary master’s degree in Spanish" and it helped him land in the teaching profession, where he's been for the past twenty-five years. To that Dicus says, "Summers off and the daily bike commute to work are 30% of my job satisfaction I don’t ride trails in winter because cross country skiing rules."
We hope you enjoy this week's Banjo Brothers Five Things.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU RIDING?
JD: My all-season city/commuter bike is a 1993 Specialized Stumpjumper, set up 1x7 with Velo Orange bars and Porteur rack. I also just finished building a 27.5+ bike on a Surly Karate Monkey frame for bikepacking and trail riding. My full suspension rig is a 27.5 Giant Anthem. As we are entering gravel season, I am riding my Jamis Renegade a lot, and my road miles are done on a 2003 Lemond Buenos Aires. Most of my bikes are steel and most were purchased used. My wife and kids have their fleet of bikes, and years of guerrilla wrenching and buying used bikes has taught me that the right tools matter.
As long as my body lets me, I’ll be chasing that combination of single track, mountains, and self-supported camping.
BANJO BROS: WHERE ARE YOU RIDING?
JD: Commuting to work, the library, music clubs, the beach; wherever. Long road rides from my house. Some gravel rides like the Almanzo and Dirty Benjamin. The Chequamegon 100. An annual dads and daughters bike camping weekend. And, of course, our fine urban mountain biking trails, especially Theodore Wirth and Lebanon Hills. Minneapolis is a great biking city. I’ve done several traditional, long-distance tours, but a few years back I checked out bikepacking and got hooked (Baja, Arizona, Colorado). As long as my body lets me, I’ll be chasing that combination of single track, mountains, and self-supported camping.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO, READING OR WATCHING?
JD: Regional jazz groups: Hamid Drake, Natural Information Society, Cory Healy’s Beautiful Sunshine Band. Minneapolis has a good jazz scene. Our community radio station, KFAI, has great programs: Encuentro, Century Song, Latino Alt Rock, and International Jazz Conspiracy (stream program archives online!). And, I am always listening to Latin American music, new and old: Natalia Lafourcade, Bomba Estéreo, Mojarra Eléctrica, Simón Díaz. Oh, I am learning to identify bird songs, too, so I can ride through the city and know what’s around me.
I like science writing. I recently finished Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True, and Robin Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. Learning about the natural world is my version of going to church. I read the Sunday New York Times and, my family has subscribed to the New Yorker for 3 generations. Don’t I sound like an elitist snob!? Occasionally, I calm down enough to risk reading fiction and poetry.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU COOKING EATING/DRINKING?
JD: Well, my wife is a chef and I got away with not cooking dinner for a lot of years. Now, as a nutrition educator, she works several evenings a week, which means I have to step up and cook for me and the kids. So, from our massive collection of cookbooks, I am using Mark Bittmans’ How to Cook Everything, and the sauces chapter of my wife’s book, Cooking up the Good Life, of course. No matter what, if you live in my house, you are eating fresh and local (wife’s rules). As for beer, IPA (duh): Sixpoint Resin, Evil Twin Molotov, Surly, Founders All Day, etc. If it’s wine, Malbec (we lived in Mendoza, Argentina for a year) or Vino Verde.
BANJO BROS: WHAT'S STUCK IN YOUR CRAW?
JD: I have always liked dystopian films (THX1138, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, Clockwork Orange, Mad Max, Blade Runner, etc.), or classic books like 1984 and Brave New World, and even YA fiction like Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials or The Hunger Games. Five decades of living has taught me that humans didn’t evolve with the capacity to respond meaningfully to the speed of change that we’re seeing in the Anthropocene. I feel like I’m watching the beginning of the end, with the slow but inevitable decline of my country, and of the environment. It’s surreal and sad. My wife is a changemaker and more of an optimist than I. She recently returned from a food conference and told me about all these cool things that are going on around the country. I love that, cuz I need to be reminded that I actually do believe in the goodness of people. But what’s in my craw is the line from the childhood cartoon, The Adventures of Gulliver, where Glum would always say, “We’re doomed. We’ll never make it.”
MORE ABOUT THE FIVE THINGS INTERVIEWS FROM BANJO BROTHERS
A big Banjo Brothers thank you to Jon Dicus for participating in this week's edition of Banjo Brothers' 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 our full series of past five things interviews.
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