Update: Parks and his wife plan to sponsor Tour D’Organics, a bike race in Sebastopol in early August.
You might be surprised at the number of local chefs who are also avid bicyclists, as well as cyclists involved in the food world. So it isn’t surprising that my inbox blew up this weekend when meat monger Adam Parks of Victorian Farmstead Meats posted a rant about cyclists on Sonoma County roads.
Suffice to say, it included “jokes” about running cyclists over. Suffice to say local cyclists were outraged, with good reason.
Within hours of the post, Parks got a barrage of several thousand emails and Facebook messages. “They ranged from telling me I was a d**k, to long stories of cyclists injured and hurt on a bicycle,” said Parks. “It made people really upset,” he said. “I went too far,” he added.
The post, however, touched on a not-uncommon refrain from impatient drivers who encounter pelotons of riders on both rural and city roads exercising their rights to use traffic lanes. “It was supposed to be a funny, over-the-top post about the annoyance to vehicle drivers. It was not written from the perspective of the cyclist,” said Parks.
The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition was quick to respond on their Facebook page with a reposting of the blog (since taken down) with a call to riders to “visit the farmers markets where Adam sells his products and ask him if he was really serious when he said that “anyone not in single file and/or on the right side of the solid white line is fair game (for hitting).“
“He barged into a room where there is an enormous amount of pent-up, vigilant energy,” said Eric Anderson, a local real estate developer, bicycle enthusiast and owner of Spinster Sisters in Santa Rosa. Anderson, and others, have vowed to boycott Parks’ product. “Keep your money, punk,” said one detractor on the Victorian Farmstead Meats Facebook page. This graphic has also been circulated.
Despite the kerfuffle, Parks hopes for some redemption and education in the wake of the pain he’s caused. An apology posted on Facebook has 124 comments, the majority of which are positive, and Parks has reached out to the biking community — in fact he was on his way to a Healdsburg cycle shop when we spoke by phone. “For the most part, people have been very forgiving where they may not have needed to be,” he said.
“What it has created is a huge learning experience certainly in terms of knowing both sides of an issue, regardless of my opinion. The ridiculously huge power of social media has opened a dialog, of knowing what a cyclist goes through. Stories of cyclists injured and hurt on a bicycle, regardless of where they are riding, was a real eye opener,” said Parks.
As a biker, and an eater, its good to see some education coming from this unfortunate situation.
(Just a side note, I’m a food writer, so this is written for a food audience, rather than a broader news audience. Look for Mary Callahan’s upcoming news article on the subject.)