Dirty Words: My Bike is a Camera

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Words and Photos by Sal Ruibal

If you’ve read more than a couple of these screeds, you know that I like to spice up the type with some well-chosen images. Most of the photos in the blog are from my rides. As a result, I feel like a camera on two wheels.
That’s not a bad thing to be. I love the woods and I love my bikes. Having a camera allows me to save some of those great memories. My brain is no longer a reliable data storage device, so being able to record how things were is important to me.

Bikes and cameras have a lot in common. They are a reason to go to beautiful places with great friends and share an experience. They have enough technology to inspire discussion, but not so much as to become truly boring.

I think of my eyes as the lens of my bike-camera. Before I look through my camera lens, I look at everything around me, then focus on something unusual, colorful, funny or touching. The bike gets me to those special places.
They both also have processes that have been handed down for many decades. Old bicycles are like old cameras, with lots of knobs and levers and measurements and fussing over the small details that make the difference between an average ride and an epic. The older I get, the more I get involved with process instead of “just riding along.”

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I’ve been fortunate to be associated with some of the world’s best bike riders and best photographers. I’ve been to great races and tragic wars with men and women who held cameras to their faces as chaos rained down, something that could happen in a combat zone or the Olympics or the beautiful woods just a few blocks from my house.

It also seems that the folks who like to take photos also like to drink good beer. I’m probably a better beer drinker than I am a photographer, but I’m happy to have both in my life.

Riding bikes and taking photographs are a way to immerse myself in the world around me. I can take a deep breath in my woods and know exactly where I am. I can look at an image and remember how I felt that day, how the sun streamed through the tall oaks and warmed my face as my strong legs carried me home on my bike.

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