Pedal Pushers Subcommittee

Riding the Unconference on a “funny little bike”

Phil with his trusty Brompton

Some of you may have heard that I’m going to Denmark and Germany in a few days to participate in the Cycling for Libraries Unconference: a bicycle ride from Copenhagen to Berlin.

Cycling for libraries is a politically and economically independent international unconference and a bicycle tour from Copenhagen, Denmark to Berlin, Germany. The purpose of the Cycling for Libraries mobile conference is to gather a group of 100 library professionals from all around the world together to cycle a total of approximately 650 kilometers and to discuss the strategic issues of the library field in seminars along the route.

What you might not know is that I’m going to take a folding bicycle in my luggage and ride that bicycle for the whole ride. This is a fact that surprises a lot of people when I tell them. Frankly, some people are more than surprised, they are alarmed. I guess they feel I would be jeopardizing my chances of enjoying myself if I don’t have the best bike possible. I think this is a common reaction to cycling in
Vancouver. We are conditioned to think that we have to have the best bike possible or we can’t do it.

The brompton is light, comfortable, and reliable. I’ve had it for 14 years and ridden many miles on it. It’s quite familiar. Those are all things that count more than just whether it’s the lightest, fastest, or latest style of bike.

The ride is quite flat. Its highest point is barely higher than my house which I ride to everyday. The ride is also well supported, so I don’t have to carry my luggage, and it’s well designed with easy early stages so we can all ease into it.

Essentially, there’s no reason to expect that, if I can’t do it on this bike, I can do it on some other bike. The irony is that I have a very high-quality racing bike that I ride on Sundays. It’s call a Litespeed Tuscany and is made out of light-weight titanium. It has a 10-speed rear derailleur and is a joy to ride. However, now that I’m training for distances on the Brompton, I’m timing my rides and it’s turning out that the Brompton is only about 10% slower than the Litespeed. I think I’m learning a lesson that I’ve learned before and that we all tend to forget; Riding is mostly about attitude, and only a little bit about the bike. Even though I enjoy dressing up in “Roadie” riding gear and riding my fast racy bike, I’m really only gaining a marginal advantage over suitable (but ordinary) clothes and riding a regular bike.

So, I’m sure I’m going to have great fun riding my folding bike and talking about libraries, and I won’t miss my racing bike at all.

Phil Hall

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Cycling for Libraries Unconference
Image used with permission

The Pedal Pushers cycling committee is pleased to announce that Phil Hall will be participating in the first ever Cycling For Libraries Unconference. Cycling for Libraries is an international and independent “unconference” in the shape of a bicycle tour starting from Copenhagen and ending in Berlin (650 km) May 28 – June 6, 2011. The purpose is to gather a group of library professionals from around the world and cycle approximately 650 km, and on the way, discuss strategic issues in the library field. The ride starts at the Danish National Library courtyard in Copenhagen, and it ends at the 100th Deutsche Bibliothekartag! (The German Library Conference in Berlin). It is a unique and exciting opportunity to enhance the visibility of libraries while participating in a professional conference.

Some of the themes for the unconference are: communicating to customers; extending knowledge and skills, what the library can offer to the community; library as a public place; mobile libraries, library lovers’ best practices, how to communicate with library users; open your data; the future of libraries; and much more.

In order to support Phil’s participation in this exciting event, the Pedal Pushers are fundraising to help out with his expenses.

Interested VPL staff and management can support our Cycling for Libraries emissary by:

  • Attending our bake sale/info session at Central in the staff lounge on Tuesday, May 10th from 12 to 2—come and eat delicious homemade treats and ask Phil all about the unconference.
  • Buying a 50/50 ticket. At Central, ticket sales will begin on the evening of May 6th at Cabaret 391, and sales will be ongoing with spontaneous workroom visits by Pedal Pushers until noon on Tuesday, May 24th when we will draw a winner! If you work in any of the branches, members of the Pedal Pushers will be cycling to all of the branches in an epic bike ride to sell 50/50 tickets on Saturday, May 21st. Tickets will be $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00.

If you miss any of these opportunities, please feel free to email Dana.Putnam (at) to buy your 50/50 tickets (after May 6th but before noon on May 24th!).

The Pedal Pushers are excited about Phil’s participation in the inaugural Cycling for Libraries unconference as it is sure to be a very fruitful international library conference for library lovers who also happen to love to ride bikes. We all wish we could go too!

~ The Pedal Pushers
pedalpushers (at)


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