Welcome to 1×10, where we ask 1 inspiring human 10 questions about how they are using cycling as a force for good. Read on to meet Ross Evans, self described, Papa, Learnavore, Endurance EdgeRunner, Pioneer of the Inevitable, Cargobike Evangelical Optimist, and founder of Xtracycle. His Worldbike bio provides the following:
At the age of 19, Ross travelled to Managua carrying with him bike tools, a welder and a question for his undergraduate thesis project. Alongside a group of war-disabled men, he set out in pursuit of a simple, cargo-carrying bicycle solution. What began in 1995 became two pioneering organizations – Worldbike (he founded and serves on the board along with Craig Calfee and Tom Ritchey), and it’s altruistic “for-profit” sibling, Xtracycle. In the process, Ross discovered how to enable a beautiful machine (the bicycle) to meet more needs and desires than ever before.”
SO RAD! Read more to learn about Ross’s most memorable ride, his top tips for a new rider, the impact he sees his work making, and more in his 1×10 interview.
1. How / why did you fall in love with cycling?
Like most people who love bikes, I had some very powerful experiences of freedom with my bike at a young age. These days I’m more in love with the power of bicycles as vehicles of transformation than with “cycling” per se.
2. Favorite Bike (that you own or covet)?
Whichever one I’m riding that brings the love (puppy in front, two boys in back). Recently, this has been our newest bike design, the Xtracycle RFA Utility.
“Whichever one I’m riding that brings the love (puppy in front, two boys in back).”
3. What’s the most memorable ride you’ve done, and what happened?
Impossible to choose! But the most life-altering ride that comes to mind was the August day in 1995 when I rode my bike to a meeting across hot, dusty, dangerous Managua Nicaragua (when I really didn’t feel like going). By chance, I met my soon-to-be mentor Carl Bielenberg and he inspired me to build a bike that became Xtracycle. That day taught me about the “catalytic effect” of doing things that are hard at first and how they can yield disproportionately high rewards if you can just get yourself started. I came to see that the “catalytic effect” was especially true for riding bikes as daily transportation.
“That day taught me about the “catalytic effect” of doing things that are hard at first and how they can yield disproportionately high rewards if you can just get yourself started.”
4. Who do you admire in the cycling world?
I admire the suffragettes. The brave women who banded together – empowered by the new freedom of bicycles – to transform a gross injustice of our legal system toward greater equality.
“I admire the suffragettes.”
5. Top tip for a new rider, or a cyclist about to take on a new challenge?
One of our core values is “We Ride Together”. There are many layers of meaning to this but for a new rider or someone taking on a new challenge, it means safety, support, accountability, confidence and connection in the form of friends.
6. Favorite trend or innovation in cycling?
Daily riding for transportation or utility. I welcome the trend toward bikes as tools, not just toys – especially now we are realizing the futurist dream of superhuman powers with a simple e-boost.
“I welcome the trend toward bikes as tools, not just toys…”
7. What are you doing to use cycling as a force for good?
Every time I choose to ride instead of drive (especially when I ride with passengers)! Riding my bike to yoga class, the grocery store, school drop-off, etc. reminds me of who I really am so I can do more of what I’m here to do. I always feel better and people who see us often smile.
8. Thinking about the work you’re doing, what do you see as the potential change for people or the planet? If you are successful, what impact will you have?
Fostering connection at a human scale. Remembering how powerful we truly are. The dream impact would be mass adoption of joy-filled, human-scale transportation and beautiful infrastructure to support it.
The dream impact would be mass adoption of joy-filled, human-scale transportation and beautiful infrastructure to support it.
9. What’s your biggest challenge/obstacle to success?
Exogenous: the pervasive cultural lust for comfort. Endogenous: the prodigious learning curve I face as an edgerunning business owner.
“Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master? Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires. Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron. It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh. It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels. Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.”– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
10. How can people help? Where can they learn more about your work?
Consider riding a bicycle for daily transportation. Consider the adventures you can have when you are more self-reliant and the service you can render to others with a more capable bike. If you are feeling particularly ambitious: buy an Xtracycle and/or recommend one to a friend who might love it.
“Consider the adventures you can have when you are more self-reliant and the service you can render to others with a more capable bike.”
Ross Evans is the founder of Worldbike and Xtracycle and has been a huge part of the movement for people to ride a bicycle for daily transportation. He is a Stanford-trained engineer, adventurer, inventor, humanitarian, yogi and design catalyst. In short, he is rad!
Edited by John Kim. When he’s not out for a ride, John uses his expertise in Corporate Social Responsibility to help companies do well by doing good. Find him at email@example.com or VirtCyc on twitter or instagram.
One Comment Add yours
Super fun to read. Great questions and inspiring answers! Can we get a 1×20 on this one!