JOHN PROLLY, 29, EAST AUSTIN, TEXAS
Doing all these interviews, sometimes I let my curiosity lead me to certain figures. Today’s interview with John Prolly, a bicycle blogger who recently moved from Brooklyn to Austin, is such an example. His website about bicycle culture and its industry carries an enthusiastic tone that, if you like bikes, is fun to read. I’m aware (however slightly) that not everyone cares about bikes, so I’ve kept most of the nerdiness relegated to the longer version on the WotS website. Look for a traditional interview next week.
JOHN PROLLY, 29, EAST AUSTIN, TEXAS
WORD ON THE STREET: Why did you move to Austin?
JOHN PROLLY: Huh, it’s kind of funny. When I got laid-off from architecture… It’s hard to live in New York and do what I’m doing. I mean, the cost of living in New York is kind of high, the winter really fucking sucks. Something told me this winter was going to be bad—
–You were right!
Yeah, and since I’m doing the blog full-time, I was thinking maybe I should look into going somewhere else. I came down to visit some friends here in October and I really liked it. Riding is fucking awesome. December was the official I’m-getting-out-of-New-York-for-the-winter. Dude, everything that pissed me off or I hated about New York, it’s like the opposite here. Austin is a lot more cycling-friendly and the riding is better in terms of all forms: BMX, road riding, single-track mountain biking—there are just so many more options. The weather is perfect—I mean, yeah, it’s unbearable for two months, but any city is going to have those unbearable seasons. I’d rather be dripping hot, sweaty, nasty than be too cold, with ice and shit everywhere.
Do you feel like part of a movement of people who go to New York, develop their niche and then take it somewhere else?
I don’t know, man, it’s tough to say. New York is a tough city that takes a lot out of you. It’s a rat race that’s really demanding. A lot of people will go there, make a name for themselves and then go somewhere else, but… you could get stuck in New York, too, as if it’s a tar pit. A lot of people think leaving means you’re “quitting.” But if you’re able to hop around and visit other cities and actually see reasons to live in them, then I feel like that’s good. Most people you know in New York are so fucking bitter about everything. I don’t want to be like that; I want to actually be happy. I was there six years, that’s a good run. I’m not saying I wouldn’t ever go back to live there, but I like it here. I could honestly do my job anywhere as long as there’s original content that I can pull for my website. I could go live in Berlin for a year and pull in more experiences or whatever. The cool thing about Texas is you’re between the coasts. A plane ticket to go to SF or LA is the same to go to Baltimore, Philly, or New York, or Chicago. Having a house with a yard and shit has given me the time and space to just decompress from living in a 6’x12’ room in Greenpoint.
… A house with a yard? Dude, you’ve made it.
You could get a dog and give it a decent life.
I know, I know. I had a dog, a little Boston Terrier. My ex took her. But anyway, I’m having fun here. There’s a good base of people where I can go on a 60-mile road ride, come back, jump in the fucking river and not have a bunch of beer cans and bottles and dead fish floating around.
… And it’s mid-March.
Yeah. Right now it feels fucking great.
Do you ride your bike here the same way as in New York?
I don’t ride the same way here, like running red lights and blowing past pedestrians because it gives cyclists a bad name. And I’m not trying to pull the stupid card, but every fucking pedestrian you come close to hitting is one more person who’s pissed off at cyclists. But no one jaywalks in Austin; it weirds me out.
Yeah, and cyclists really don’t run lights here. There’s just more of an understanding. The cars don’t honk at you. You know, you’ll be riding in the middle of the road, just paying attention to riding and you’ll look behind you and there are 20 cars but nobody’s honking. In New York City, it’s too dense; there’s not enough room for everyone to be in the same space safely.
How was the cycling in New York when you left?
New York is kind of in a weird stage right now as far as the “cycling scene” is concerned. I don’t know how to describe it, really. The fixed-freestyle scene was actually pretty positive and pretty big and pretty fun. Then it just got weird, and people stopped wanting to ride, or they only wanted to ride if they were filming for projects. It kind of died.
Did that happening make it easier for you to move here?
I think so. Also, New York is so limited as far as road-riding is concerned…Most people just do a ride to Nyack like three times a week. It’s just kind of shitty. You’re riding alongside a fucking highway. When I think about how I want to spend my road-bike time, I want to be out in the fucking country, you know, with long hills. There are definitely a lot more serious hills around Austin. It’s pretty ridiculous, actually, as far as the variations of the rides you can do.
Why do so many cyclists in Austin look like crust punks?
[Laughs] I don’t know, man. Austin is weird like that.
Read the full interview with John Prolly at Word on the Street.