Geek of the Week

Life Behind Bars

Bob Bathrick, adjunct professor of rhetoric and language, rides a bike fast.

What makes you a geek?
I ride a bike.

To work or for play?
Both. But mostly for play — for fun and fitness and competition.

So you race?
Sometimes. In summer 2018 I raced in the Gay Games in Paris. The criterium was my best event. It was a 14-mile race, 19 laps around an auto-racing track. In 2010 I’d raced in the Gay Games in Cologne, Germany, and I had a blast but I had no idea what I was doing. I just rode at the back of the pack and tried to survive. But in 2018 I found myself in the lead pack. I was surprised and kind of confused. For the first time, I had to think about racing strategy. Entering the final turn, I stepped on the gas a little too soon. I got passed by the same two Dutch riders who beat me back in 2010. But hey, I finished third — not just in my age category but in the whole race.

Did you like the Gay Games?
I love the Gay Games. I think sports help to destigmatize the gay community. Being in Paris surrounded by thousands of athletes who just happen to be gay is powerful. Whatever your stereotype about gay people might be, it dissolves when you see the diversity at the Gay Games.

What is your dream ride?
The annual AIDS Ride from San Francisco to LA. The community on that ride is the community you’d like the world to be. You see a rider at the side of the road? You stop and help. The AIDS Ride is a love bubble. We try to take as much of that spirit into the rest of our lives as we can.

How can bicycling change the world?
Bicycling saves resources. No fossil fuels. Keeps you healthy. And it’s a great equalizer. Before my first AIDS Ride in the year 2000, I went on the official group training rides to get in shape, and on those training rides I routinely saw a few riders as wide as they were tall. They finished dead last, but they finished, and they finished smiling. Then on the seven-day ride to LA, I saw riders with no legs, or with one leg. This machine called a bicycle can be adapted to fit different abilities. It invites participation. People might think you can’t do it? You can.

Does your passion change the world in a way small or large? Nominate yourself or a friend for Geek of the Week! Email