Rider Profile: Glori
Introduction and Interview by Anna Maria, Photography by Greg Haerling
When I first started cycling in the city I was fortunate enough to already know Glori Campbell. We both worked in the photo industry, and as I gradually fell more and more in love with cycling, she was always there for me, encouraging me to bike more, to get involved in competitive events, and to make biking a bigger part of my life. “Biking is a gift that is given to you….and without meaning to sound too cheesy, its a beautiful thing. There is usually someone in our biking lives that touches us, teaches us, supports us, feeds us. And slowly but surely we become addicted….and through our love and addiction, somehow we end up passing it along to someone else, who then loves it in their own way.” Glori says this easily about her brother Dylan, and I can say the same about her. I have shared many amazing miles with Glori and was curious about her life growing up on Canal Street, and the role that Dylan played in getting her to ride.
You were born and raised on Canal street. How/where did you learn to ride a bike in the city? What was your first bike?
Oh wow....that is a long time ago...but I first learned in the parking lot across the street from me on the corner of Canal and Greene. My very first bike was a pink girly thing with pink tassels on the handlebars….maybe a Huffy? I was a bit of a tomboy at this time, so I wasn’t completely overwhelmed with its girlishness. My parents were not into biking so we didn’t go out much…just to the park or parking lot and such, but being in the city and all, it honestly just sat there. Then one day when I was probably 9 or 10 my brother sold my bike (behind my back) to the delivery guy at a fast food fish-fry shop behind our block called Sea World on Lispenard and Church...I think he got $20 for it and bought himself lunch. Sad but true.
Your brother seems like a huge cycling inspiration for you. Can you tell me a little about him and the BMX scene in NYC in the 90s?
Ha, yeah….despite the fact that he sold my first bike, I have to thank my brother Dylan for introducing me to cycling. His first real bike was a Specialized Rock Hopper, my parents bought it for him for Chistmas ’92. Over time Dylan then got a Cannondale M50 mountain bike frame and switched over the parts. This was the bike that changed him. He became obsessed…fixing it up, upgrading parts slowly over time. It’s around then that he got into trials.
Then for Christmas (prob ’95) his best friend gave him a pair of flat oversized mountain bike pedals…further into the rabbit hole he went…he eventually got a BMX bike and would ride down at the Brooklyn banks. This is way way before there was any notion of skate parks and stuff like that here in the city. You just rode on what you could find, which happened to be a lot of downtown and government buildings at the time…think many many stairs and ramps and such. Most of riding for him was about hanging out with friends, making new ones, getting into trouble.
During this period I wasn’t riding, but I would go down to the banks and watch my brother and his friends do tricks. I was in high school and just thought “man my brother is cool”.
Then my first year at SVA in the city in 1999, I was renting a room out in a basement on the UES and hated the train crowds. I can’t remember if it was mine or Dylan’s idea, but it was decided I needed a bike. By this point he’d become a messenger for Thunderball Courier and was riding a Somec track bike. My brother had a friend that worked at Bicycle Habitat on Lafayette and he got me an insane deal on (drum roll…) a Specialized Rock Hopper!! I loved her. I rode her a ton. I took her out to California in 2001 when I moved there for school (everyone out there would look at me like I was crazy when I locked her up with my big-ass chain…oh Californians). I continued to ride her when I moved back to NYC and started working in photography.
I rode to work and, at the time, my bosses were all into spandex and fancy road bikes (haha, now I’m cut from that cloth). Everyday they would talk shit about my bike…at this point it was almost 10 years old, heavy, slow, knobby tires…I still loved her! Finally, one day, my boss convinced me to ride over to Sid’s on 34th street and test ride some new bikes…he knew someone that worked there and said I could get a discount. So at lunch I rode up there and tested 3 bikes, one of which I secretly fell in love with… a Bianchi San Jose…Dark Green. But, what was i thinking: I didn’t need a bike, I had a bike. I said goodbye and went outside….and guess what? My bike had been stolen. I was in shock and went back into Sid’s and told them…"Someone just stole my bike, so I guess now I need that San Jose". My boss felt so bad that he insisted that he pay for it. So we split the cost. It was a very sad and yet happy day.
What are some of your favorite rides? ....Fingers crossed you mention your ride to Blue Hill...
Well, yes, biking to Blue Hill was a great one…it’s a really nice ride once you get to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It was my first time on the Putnam trail, which is a sweet ride in and of itself. We made one big mistake though. We left late, I was very hungover, and we didn’t stop for lunch. By the time we got there, we were ravenous! We stopped in a nearby school parking lot and changed into our fancy dresses and had the meal of a lifetime!!! Blue Hill is great, they even valet your bikes! It is a must do ride for New Yorkers who want a fancy ass meal and some miles. Then if you get a permit, you can train it back to the city on Metro North.
Some of my other favorite rides were on a road trip I did with an ex a few years ago. We took his Toyota Tacoma and built a platform bed in the back that we lined with an Ikea futon and drove over 10,000 miles in a month. We brought our two road bikes and two mountain bikes and hit up trails in almost every state we passed through. Including Ohio, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Kansas (yes there is mountain bike trails in Kansas) and more. It was an amazing trip (despite the fact that we wanted to kill each other by the end of it….but having those bikes, man, it was our sanity)
We did one ride in Oregon that was like a dream, Black Rock. It was sick! Straight out of a mountain biking video. I still dream of it. http://brmba.org
And then the slick rock in Utah. There is nothing like it. Your tires stick to the rock and it feels like you are superwoman. Not to mention the epic views. Anyone who loves bikes needs to ride there.
How does riding a bike change your personal experience of NYC?
Hmm. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but I think my personal experience of NYC is my bike. We go everywhere together. And it has been that way for years. Its just an extension of myself. I don’t think I could imagine it any other way. You can run errands, trek out to the farthest reaches and eat amazing food (guilt free), go on a date, escape a bad date, fall in love, avoid crowded trains. You can have it all, all while keeping yourself alive.
Is there a connection between your work as a photographer and cycling?
This is the only question I don’t really have an answer for. Maybe somehow, for now, they are separate. I love both, but in different ways and for different reasons. I usually cycle to work. So that is an obvious and boring connection. And I cycle to food constantly. And now that I’ve started my food blog I have some ideas for 2015
How has cycling changed in NYC during the time you’ve been riding?
It’s changed a ton. It’s hard to even remember a bike lane back in the day. Seriously the progress is exceptional and we have come a long way, but there are still a lot, and I mean A LOT of drivers out on our roads that either don’t see us or just plain old want to run us over. Sometimes I see a lot of anger towards cyclists. Biking here can be tough and you can’t be timid to do it. So it is still not for everyone, yet. But, hopefully, we can change that by going after more drivers. I admit I try not to use the green bike lanes throughout the city. I feel like they are a magnet for disasters and used for everything but what they are for. One thing is for sure, cycling here has taught me a lot and has made me a better rider/racer. Your reaction time is faster, you learn how to fall, learn how to slide, learn ALWAYS wear a helmet, your bike handling skills will be improved immensely in just a month of city riding. I guarantee.
I know you’re just shy of competing as an elite triathlete, but do you have any plans to compete in cycling only events in 2015?
Eeeee! off the top of my head right now, no. But I wouldn’t mind if that changes. I really would like to get back into mountain biking and give CX a whirl. But I need more bikes. You just can’t ever seem to have enough of them.