This has to be one of my absolute favorite photos. One reason being I don’t have too many of myself racing, but the main reason being where I was at in this moment in time.
There I was. A 33-year-old in peak form last season racing the Wards Island Circuit, one of the many races I participated in a calendar-filled 2017. Second, I was amped to be rocking my black and red BYC skinsuit. And lastly, I had restarted filming for The Spoke & Word with Edmundo Martinez and felt super excited to get that going again in capturing all the necessary footage I didn’t get the previous year.
It was an exciting and promising period.
This installment of the Spoke & Word took a whole year. With a few exceptions, it was entirely filmed in the Bronx. There was no better and more proud person to guide me through his borough than Mundo, a fellow cyclist, native New Yorker, and now - a dear friend. Interviewing Mundo and filming the Bronx was a very enriching and educational experience on a personal level.
As a Queens native, I neither knew much about the Bronx nor spent much time there. Having spent 3 hours in there with a motley team of gentlemen, the Boyle Ave Bombers, at the 2016 Warrior’s Race - the all-nighter of bikes, laughs, fun tasks, and beers definitely sparked this idea for a feature. Coincidently, Mundo was on the team. Having guided and helped us in getting around the borough, it clicked that I wanted him for the next Spoke & Word.
Despite all the new developments and gentrification happening throughout New York City, the Bronx reminds me of something familiar. To me, it still stands as the final frontier of the New York I grew up with and loved so much. Through this feature, I wanted to not only show Mundo’s story, but also his borough, which is very much a part of him. To showcase the Bronx’s food, culture, and community with the intention of hopefully shattering some of its bad image among other New Yorkers.
While I was very happy with my first video feature (with Jesse Shotland), I knew I had to put a lot more time into this next one and raise the bar. I felt an internal pressure not to mess up and disappoint Mundo and the people of the Bronx.
Since the release of part one, I received a great deal of positive feedback from viewers. Several complimenting me on my eye and talent (something which even now - I don’t accept I have). I’m not a filmographer. Contrary to most people, I don’t like to impose myself with titles I haven’t earned. I simply wanted to tell a story and create a video in a way I’d find both educational and entertaining. Call it what you will. Despite all that, I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process from the whole experience and in ways personally justified why I pursued a bachelor’s degree in journalism a decade ago without regrets.
BYC was never meant to sell T-shirts. It was created to promote cycling in NYC and elsewhere. I’d like to believe it has achieved just that in its own way through photos, video, and articles.
The past 4 years have been made up of a lot of sacrifices along the way, such as time, money, and even relationships. I didn’t come up with BYC to make money out of it (although that would’ve been nice). It derived out of the sheer love of cycling and this city. At the end of the 2017 track season, I lost a bit of that love because it engulfed so much time that the fun aspect of it was diminishing. Joy rides were non-existent. Either I was training or racing. Balancing training, racing, BYC, a full-time job, and a personal life had left very little time for anything else. Given our current political and social climate, I find it also challenging to focus solely on this website.
For these reasons, 2018 will be a year without BYC. It’s not through a lack or shortage of ideas. I feel Bike Your City had its time.
So what’s next?
I’m certainly not abandoning cycling. 2018 is going to be different. There will be more personanl joy rides and putting the fun back into cycling. Whether I’ll be racing is still to be determined. If I do, it will be independently. Just for me.
Not having to worry about BYC makes room for me to be able to rekindle my love for playing music and seek/explore other ventures and projects, as well.
For the past few months, I’ve been filming weekly bagel reviews for Sam “the Bagel Borg" Silverman and his Brooklyn Bagel Blog. Sam is on a mission to find NYC’s (and the world’s) best bagels. I must’ve filmed at least 15 reviews and I’m happy to continue helping out. Check it out on Facebook and Instragram (@brooklynbagelblog) and you’ll never look at bagels the same way. I promise.
I started a new IG handle where I’ll be posting my street and travel photography. It’s called Son of Fredo. I’m not an aspiring or upcoming photographer, but it is a place where I share a bit more of myself and my photos. Mundo’s Spoke & Word Part 2 is nearly finished and ready for release. It will be my BYC swan song. Once it’s out, I will shut down the site shortly after and turn my focus on Son of Fredo. If you want to stay connected, be sure to follow me @SonOfFredo.
I’m grateful for these past years. I thank the followers and people I’ve met along the way for being a part of it, especially those who believed in it.
Bike Your City lives on every time you decide to ride your bike.