Ben Weaver
Ben Weaver

Ben Weaver

St. Paul, MN

As a performer I want to use the bicycle to continue to push the boundaries for the types of spaces where my performances can take place. I have been performing out of traditional concert settings for a while, but I want to get deeper into the woods, literally and metaphorically with the potential for future locations. As an athlete I want to use the bicycle to challenge the perceptions of what it means to be an artist. I want to show that someone can excel athletically while also making relevant and emotionally moving art. I will continue to link the stewardship and environmental awareness components to my performances and rides but I also want to increase the amount of hands-on-work I am able to facilitate within the communities I visit.

The summer between 8th and 9th grade my best friend's girlfriend dumped him. He called me depressed saying he was camping out in his back yard. He was pretty down, and I was worried about him so I snuck out on my bike and went over to check in on him. My parents must have woken up and realized I was gone. As punishment when I came home early the next morning, they chained my bike up in the shed. Not long after that I jumped out the window of my room and went out to the shed with a hacksaw. I sawed through the chain and freed my bike. I got blisters all over my hands from holding the chain as it moved back and forth from the saw blade. No one ever locked a bike away from me after that. The blisters are a pretty good metaphor for what the bike means to me, and what I am willing to go through to keep moving forward on it.

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What kind of cyclist are you?
The kind that feels like I am missing an extremity and totally out of place if I arrive somewhere without having ridden my bike there. 

How long has cycling been a part of your life? When did it become more than just “riding a bike”?
I can remember in kindergarten when I got my first new bike and I remember riding it home from the shop in the rain.  I would say ever since that day it has been more than just riding a bike.  It has been a way of life.  

The cycling accomplishment you’re proudest of to date?
My oldest son is about to turn 13 and he recently got his first job.  The fact that his first job is working in a bike shop makes me pretty proud.  Aside from that my latest ride around Lake Superior in which I rode about 1400 miles in 15 days with 13 different performances along the way feels like a significant accomplishment.  What I am most proud of about that trip has less to do with my personal achievement and more to do with many people the ride itself impacted and inspired.  The bicycle is such a powerful tool for opening doors of all kinds.  

Favorite place you’ve been on a bike so far?
Gravel of The Mississippi Delta

Favorite place to daydream about that you haven’t yet ridden?
It’s a tie between New Zealand and some riverbeds I once hiked in Alaska that I would love to return to on two wheels.
 
How do you describe what the bicycle means to you?
The summer between 8th and 9th grade my best friend’s girlfriend dumped him.  He called me depressed saying he was camping out in his back yard.  He was pretty down, and I was worried about him so I snuck out on my bike and went over to check in on him.  My parents must have woken up and realized I was gone.  As punishment when I came home early the next morning, they chained my bike up in the shed.  Not long after that I jumped out the window of my room and went out to the shed with a hacksaw.  I sawed through the chain and freed my bike.  I got blisters all over my hands from holding the chain as it moved back and forth from the saw blade.  No one ever locked a bike away from me after that.  The blisters are a pretty good metaphor for what the bike means to me, and what I am willing to go through to keep moving forward on it.

How will your future as a cyclist unfold?
As a performer I want to use the bicycle to continue to push the boundaries for the types of spaces where my performances can take place.  I have been performing out of traditional concert settings for a while, but I want to get deeper into the woods, literally and metaphorically with the potential for future locations.  As an athlete I want to use the bicycle to challenge the perceptions of what it means to be an artist.  I want to show that someone can excel athletically while also making relevant and emotionally moving art.  I will continue to link the stewardship and environmental awareness components to my performances and rides but I also want to increase the amount of hands-on-work I am able to facilitate within the communities I visit.  
 
Who inspires you and your riding?
Most of my life I have been a solo rider.  Riding for the feeling, riding alone.  I grew up with little knowledge of other riders, either peer or pro.  Riding bikes has been one of the things in my life that has evolved with little to no outside influence.  However, in the last year or so I have had the good fortune to interact with and meet some pretty incredible riders. Jay Petervary inspired me to push the athletic part of myself closer into the artistic part of myself.  I have always been comfortable with the idea of going deep into myself artistically to find what lies beyond the dark corners.  Watching Jay helped me see a parallel to this on the physical endurance side. There is a lot one can learn from facing those demons as well.  

 Favorite Salsa model and why?
There are still a handful of bikes that I need to ride in order to accurately answer this, but to date I am pretty fond of my steel Vaya. I may be partial since it was my first Salsa. I love how much I can carry on that bike, while it still retains a great deal of playfulness and snap. One honest challenge in answering this question is that there are so many different types of riding and the engineers at Salsa have done a remarkable job of building bikes to fit all those rides, that for someone who loves to ride anywhere and everywhere, its a not easy to pick a favorite. 
 
Favorite pre, during, and post ride/race food and bevvies?
I am a fan of the Kate’s Real Food Bars and in many cases that’s what I eat the first 50 to 80 miles while riding.  On this recent tour I roasted sweet potatoes the night before and ate them with honey and that was awesome.  When riding I stick to water.  Everything else leaves my mouth coated and gives me heartburn. Post ride I can drink an endless supply of anything that’s carbonated but specifically whiskey gingers or a Bubble Jack IPA from Rush River.   Post ride Ill eat anything and everything made of peanut butter and chocolate. 

When you’re not cycling…
There isn’t much shift here in all honesty.  It’s back to the riding as a way of life, everyday is a ride reality.

What don’t you leave home without on a ride?
A knife, pen, paper, small tool kit, tube, pump, lighter, and an urge to submerge myself in water.  I never go back the same way I came.