“Why We Ride” is a different sort of cycling book, one that takes the cycling jones and spit-shines it so that it reflects why so many of us stick with the bike even as other elements of our lives may change. It’s a book that asks why we’re willing to get up early, to ride in the cold, the rain, even the cold rain, and somehow count that as a good time.
Within the pages are a series of essays, meditations and prose poems on what makes cycling an indispensable part of our lives, and why it is that even the briefest ride has the power to make the gloomiest day better.
Cycling isn’t just one pursuit. A love of cycling can serve as the foundation for half a dozen different hobbies. Sure, there’s the riding—let’s never forget the childlike joy that can come from a good ride. There’s the camaraderie that comes from the shared challenge of a ride. There’s also the fascination for the machine itself, a device that can be as artful as it is elegant in its simplicity. What of the myriad ways a ride can keep our heads straight? From the stress-relief of a hard ride to the contemplative quality of an easy solo ride, cycling feeds more than just cardiovascular fitness. If it was just exercise, most of us would have been gone years ago.
Most of what’s been published about cycling in book form either tells you what someone else did—biographies and surveys of the great races, or what you could do—fix-it manuals and guide books. Like a book of poetry, “Why We Ride” is a volume you won’t read just once. It’s a volume you’ll return to again and again, the sort of book you might read just before bed, one that will put the bug in your ear; as you turn out your bedside lamp you’ll be thinking, “I’m riding tomorrow; no ifs, ands or buts.”
How many books will do you that favor?
The book draws from work composed over the last six years, a period in which I produced my very best work. Much of the work has appeared previously in different publications, but if we hit our stretch goals (see below), I’ll be including some previously unpublished pieces.
I’ve wanted to bring these pieces together in book form to reflect the permanence of our love for the sport. Equipment may change, but the reasons we ride are no different today than they were when we were kids. Cycling deserves at least one volume that will stand the test of time.
UPDATE: I've received a few requests for excerpts of the book to give folks new to my work as sense of what I'll include in the book. Rather than paste them here, you can follow these links here and here to examples of the book's contents.
Who Is This Printer?
I searched for months to find a letterpress printer who was both interested in the book and capable of doing it. In a world dominated by offset printing, there aren’t many letterpress printers who still print books; most are focused on wedding invitations, business cards and the like.
I’ve spent a couple of delightful afternoons with Norman Clayton in his shop in Ojai, California. His shop occupies a building next to his home on a quiet residential street on the outskirts of town. The smell of printer’s ink fills the air and in addition to the pallets of paper, in his shop you’ll find his desk and computer (a Mac, naturally) and his two presses. Broadsides and other ephemera decorate the walls while a bookcase on one wall holds volumes he has worked on and admires.
The best way I can explain just who Norman Clayton is is to tell you he is the printer’s equivalent to a classic steel frame builder. Centered, quiet, spiritual, meticulous and artful, he’s just the person to whom I want to entrust this project.
But why take my word for it? Here’s Norman in his own words:
"I studied typography and photography at the Rhode Island School of Design, and graduated in 1990 with a suitcase full of books I designed, printed and bound by hand. The RISD type shop was the place where my appreciation for letterforms and letterpress was developed because that was where all my passions: typography, paper, printing, and book binding came together.
For 12 years, beginning in 1991, I was printer and manager of One Heart Press in the San Francisco Bay Area. The shop was named One Heart Press because of the mutual appreciation for letterpress shared by owner Michael Osborne and me. During those days, I learned how to print very well producing job work, posters and books. In 2003, he began working more closely with his mentor, Jim Wehlage. In 2005, upon his retirement, Jim sold me his shop Classic Letterpress which included Adrian Wilson's KSBAZ Heidelberg Cylinder, stone, and a portion of Adrian's library. I moved the shop to Oakland and continued to focus on high quality printing.
In 2010, I moved my family and letterpress shop to the beautiful Ojai valley in Southern California. With the move I was able to triple the size of my shop and acquire more equipment and type. I continue to work happily, with a view of the mountains, as a typographer, printer and teacher. My clients include Apple, Adobe Systems, the Book Club of California, California College of the Arts, Los Angeles Magazine, the Museum of Ventura County, and the Ojai Valley Museum."
This volume of Robert Bly's poetry is an example of Norman's work.
What Makes This Book So Special?
Well, aside from the fact that you’ll never find this sitting on the shelf next to “It’s Not About the Bike” at your local Barnes and Noble, this is a book that speaks to the dedicated cyclist, the lifer, you.
While for me the heart of this project has always been the hardcover book, I never wanted this to seem exclusive, too-hip-for-thou, which is why I’ll be offering an electronic edition and a paperback version. The point of the hardcover was to match the care I put into each of the pieces in the book with a print product of equal quality. The idea was to create a work of consistent art and quality throughout.
At the minimum funding level, the edition size for the hardcover will be 200. We’ll expand the edition size depending on the response we get, but because this will be letterpress work, we will limit the edition to a maximum of 500 copies. Only those that come with a protective slip cover will be numbered.
What Is All This Kickstarter Money Going Toward?
The joy my wife and I felt at the birth of our son Matthew (better known to RKP readers as "The Deuce") was quickly undercut when we learned that he had a potentially deadly condition. His 37-day stay in the neonatal ICU included surgery. Without being too mercenary about this, I’m hoping to make some money on these books and other items in order to pay off his sizable bills. My wife’s coverage with Kaiser wasn’t bad, but the deductible and co-pays have added up as if we’ve been at the world’s fanciest a la carte resort. This Kickstarter campaign is meant to do nothing so much as prevent us from entering the poor house just for bringing this little guy into the world.
But long before I can think about spending any profit, I’ll need to deliver what will hopefully be a truckload of books, T-shirts, broadsides and more.
The single biggest chunk of what I take in from this Kickstarter campaign (provided it funds) will go to Norman Clayton of Classic Letterpress to pay for his work on the book(s), the broadside and the bookmark. Some of the money will be going to the design and production of the T-shirts. For the top-end rewards, most of that money will go to travel and accommodations.
The Stretch Goals I’ve got a base goal of $20,000 that must be achieved in order to place an order with Classic Letterpress for a run of just 200 copies of the hardcover of “Why We Ride.” That initial order will enable him to do the design work that will result in the e-edition and paperback. But once we meet that goal, the real fun starts.
As the pledge total grows, I’ll be able to add in some exciting additions to rewards.
$25,000—If we hit this mark, I’ll be able to expand “Why We Ride” in each of its various editions to include the cycling manifesto that I penned for Issue 08 of Peloton Magazine.
$30,000—Should we hit this mark, I’ll do a collection of the posts that make up the “Enter the Deuce” series. Those who purchased the e-edition will receive it electronically. Those who purchased the paperback edition will receive it in paperback form, while those who purchased the letterpress edition will receive a letterpress, perfect-bound version.
$32,500—I’ll add another T-shirt to any reward that included the “Chaos” T-shirt.
$35,000—If we hit this stretch goal, I’ll expand “Enter the Deuce” with additional, previously unpublished material and we will bind the letterpress version with a hardcover.
$40,000—We'll do a limited-edition jersey, available only to our Kickstarter supporters.
Bonus Stuff Scale The formula for getting the bonus stuff that comes with us hitting our stretch goals is simple. The only way for us to hit bonus goals is if you pledge an amount greater than the reward calls for.
The math is pretty simple. If you want to see an expanded edition of “Why We Ride,” you’ll need to help us get there by pledging 25% more than the reward calls for (as $25,000 is a 25% increase over $20,000). Similarly, if you want to see us print “Enter the Deuce” in its most basic form, you’ll need to pledge 50% above your chosen reward level.
Patrick Brady—Writer, dreamer
Norman Clayton—Book design, printer, voice of reason
Joe Yule—T-shirt design, illumination
John Lewis—Editing, heavy metal feedback
Shawn Davie—Videography, laughs
Kenton Hoppas—Video editing, encouragement
The Deuce—Work ethic, inspiration
Risks and challenges
The good news here is that unless the Earth is hit by a massive asteroid that wipes out the human race, you can have a high level of confidence that you'll receive the rewards for which you've pledged your hard-earned cash.
"Why We Ride" is already composed. You needn't worry that I won't get the thing written due to an epic case of writer's block.
And what about the printing? Well Norman Clayton, the proprietor of Classic Letterpress is an established professional with a long track record of delivering high quality work on time and on budget.
The other items, such as the paperback book and the T-shirt will also be produced by established professionals. This is no amateur hour.
The most likely delays that *might* befall this project would have to do with Norman's availability due to other work (but we've set a tentative production calendar with him to avoid that) or the envelope stuffing party taking longer than anticipated due to an overwhelming response. But we've got friends we can enlist to cover that, and will serve them pizza and beer afterward.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)