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Book Review: Tucson Spokes.

By Tom Demerly.
Designer Stefan Walz and Photo Journalist Chris Mooney compile a wonderful photographic insight into the Tucson cycling community in their book "Tucson Spokes".

If you conceived a city around the sport of cycling Tucson, Arizona would be a likely result.  The roads, the weather, the cycling clubs and the terrain are conjured from a bike rider’s dream. Like Boulder, San Diego, Seattle, Davis and Madison, Tucson is a rich cycling community filled with bike history, landmarks and most notably- cycling characters. Unlike other cities Tucson has weather so perfect it seems like the bike and triathlon clubs control it: 350 days of sun, warm, low winds, no clouds.

Capturing the essence of such a vibrant and authentic bike community is a tall order. That was designer Stefan Walz’s concept for Tucson Spokes: A Photo Collection of the Tucson Cycling Community. Walz partnered with noted Tucson photographer Chris Mooney for the photo collaboration on Tucson Spokes. Mooney has an insider’s perspective of the cycling and multisport community as a triathlete, cyclist and artist. He has shot photos around the world, including a cover photo for the Land’s End catalog that featured a live kangaroo modelling Land’s End apparel. Mooney works out of a 5500 square foot studio with fellow local photog Balfour Walker. His local knowledge and athletic experience combined with his impressive technical and creative style lend a rich visual quality to Tucson Spokes.

The people who contribute to the Tucson cycling and multisport culture are expertly showcased in "Tucson Spokes". It's a "Who's Who" of cycling in Tucson.

Tucson Spokes showcases the cycling experience in Tucson by focusing, literally and editorially, on three perspectives: The people who ride bikes in the Tucson cycling community, The venues that make Tucson a cycling destination and the events painted by the characters on this backdrop. The three elements weave together for a very complete story.

Beginning with the characters Walz and Mooney found insightful ways to show you in a few photos and some tight text the quirky personalities that seem to be a staple of every cycling community. The portraits are fun, insightful, inspiring and original. You want to meet the characters. A gem is “The Hairy Guy”, Mr. Leslie Prentiss, an eccentric cyclist known for riding in cut-off jeans, running shoes and no shirt. Every cyclist in Tucson can tell you about Prentiss, and he’s shown in all his unique splendor in Spokes.

There is also homage to the Tucson cycling backdrop: the desert, the cactus, the roads and all the static features of the Tucson community that the cyclist play on. Having lived in Tucson for two years and doing it without a car I’m struck by how Walz and Mooney show the city from how a cyclist sees it from their saddle. It’s a cyclist’s perspective.

The places that make Tucson a cycling paradise fill the pages of "Tucson Spokes". It's a guide to the rides, routes and characters of the Winter Training Capital.

Finally, the events that put Tucson on the map as a cycling Mecca also color the pages of Tucson Spokes. From the (literally) world famous “Shootout” Saturday morning group ride attended by local hot shots and top European professionals to the eclectic B.I.C.A.S. meetings (Bicycle Inter-Community Art and Salvage) Tucson Spokes shows an insider’s perspective on the local cycling events and culture.

Since Tucson has become such a winter training destination Tucson Spokesis a natural promotional tool for athletes coming to Tucson to train in the The Winter Training Capital and a great souvenir that takes the look and feel of the Tucson cycling community home. Tucson Spokes is more than just great photos of the Tucson cycling culture, it captures the very essence of what makes Tucson a cycling paradise.  

A great primer to Tucson cycling and a fun souvenir of The Winter Training Capital: "Tucson Spokes".