For my birthday this year, I got a bike. It’s been a solid decade since I biked with any regularity, but my boyfriend recently got a bike and had started riding on some of the many wonderful bike trails in the St. Louis area. I figured, sure, riding bikes might be a fun thing we could do together on the weekends. I was not expecting to love it as much as I do. Now, after three months of exploring the bike trails around the city, I’m (almost) ready to attempt a multi-day trek from Missouri’s Capital (Jefferson City) back to St. Louis along the Katy trail. It’s only 104 miles. NBD. (Who am I kidding, it’s a huge deal for me).
As with most new hobbies in my life, I’ve gone a bit overboard — not by purchasing all kinds of awesome high tech bike gear, but by seeking out and rereading comics and stories that feature people who bike. Here are my five favorite comics about biking:
You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis
Eleanor Davis is one of my favorite comics creators working today. (My blog post sign-off “Find the stories that make you stronger” comes from her book How to be Happy). In You & A Bike & A Road, Davis tracks her bike journey from her parents’ house in Tucson, AZ to her home in Athens, GA. It’s a poignant diary comic that covers everything from the frustration of biking into a headwind, to using biking as a means of coping with depression. More than anything else, reading this comic is the thing that makes me feel like I actually *can* bike across half of Missouri.
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Chris Chiang
I’ve extolled the greatness of Paper Girls before on Dumbbells and Dragons, so I’ll keep this short. NPR’s Glen Weldon placed Paper Girls in the “kids on bikes” genre along with Stranger Things and Super 8, and he’s absolutely right. While my current bike riding doesn’t much resemble that of the paper delivery girls in Paper Girls, this comic sure does bring up memories of riding around my neighborhood with friends as a kid.
One Punch Man by One
There are a lot of great characters in One Punch Man but my favorite, hands down, is Mumen Rider. Unlike comic’s protagonist, Saitama, who defeats every opponent with virtually zero effort, Mumen Rider puts an enormous amount of effort into being a hero but rarely defeats anybody. Despite his less than stellar track record, Mumen Rider keeps trying and never lets anything get him down (mentally and emotionally anyway, he does get knocked down a lot physically). And of course, his hero costume consists of a bicycle and bike gear. The character in the anime adaptation is equally great.
Bikeyface by Bekka Wright
Bikeyface is a webcomic about using a bicycle as your main mode of transportation in a very busy city (Boston). According to Wright, a bikey face is also “the expression of being active, engaged, and enjoying world around you;” I am very familiar with this type of bikey face — I usually have it when coasting downhill. Although I don’t have any solid plans to bike around my city (we have very few bike lanes and terrifying motorists), I like reading Bikeyface because it makes me think that maybe someday I’ll get over my fear of potholes and aggressive motorists.
Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Am I capable of writing a comics recommendation list without including a Hark A Vagrant comic? I think not. As with most things, Kate Beaton has written my single most favorite comic about biking. You see me rollin’ up pops, you step aside.
Until next time, find the stories that make you stronger. #WorkOutNerdOut