'The bike community tends to be a pretty active one but there isn't always a lot of stuff to gather round," says Joe Schott, longtime cyclist and Colorado Springs Education Association treasurer.
Schott recognized an opportunity in Bicycle Eclectic, a traveling exhibit of photos by Greg Siple, which originally appeared as a regular feature by the same name in Adventure Cyclist magazine — of which Schott is an avid reader. Bicycle Eclectic is as much about telling stories as it is about the photos themselves.
Since 1982, Siple, whose photography has also been published in National Geographic magazine, has been capturing images of bicycle tourists, documenting the cyclists who pass through Missoula, Montana, on their way to the Adventure Cycling Association's headquarters. The 21 portraits in this traveling exhibit showcase cyclists and the bikes they take on their long journeys, displayed alongside a caption that profiles the person(s) pictured.
Schott says, "looking at the pictures and hearing other peoples' stories — it was part of a community almost, something we shared in." He wanted to bring that sense of community to Colorado Springs, where cyclists tend to run in their own circles, barring big annual events like Starlight Spectacular or the Roll Bike Art Festival, which celebrated its 12th anniversary this year.
It felt natural for Schott to enlist the help of Kids on Bikes, whose Pedal Station will host the exhibit through December. Schott and Kids on Bikes Director Daniel Byrd go way back, and both are committed to making the cycling community more cohesive, safer and more accessible.
Schott says that when most people think of cycling, they either think of the Tour de France or mountain biking, and bicycle touring seldom comes to mind. But touring involves an element of Americana that you just don't find in other forms of cycling. "When you're out doing a week or two weeks without a car and you're going on back roads," he says, "you start running into people, and that's where the stories occur."
He hopes that sharing an exhibit that honors the human interest aspect of cycling will encourage members from the wider community, cyclists and otherwise, to come together. "When you see that there's more than just you, that you're not in isolation, there's strength in that."