Bike Fort Collins first launched You Know Me. I Ride a Bike. back in 2009 as a broader awareness campagin featuring local residents active in our bike loving community. Beginning in 2021, we are excited to reintroduce this bio-series, recognizing one new Fort Collins resident each month here on our news-blog/website, The Pedal Post eNewsletter and BFC social channels, and highlighting their love for bikes. Please join us as we hear their stories and learn more about these remarkable folks who live and ride right here in our community.
December 2021: Todd Simmons
….by Anna Kelso, BFC Community Relations Coordinator
“The revolution is coming, and it’s coming on a bicycle!” – Todd Simmons
In a relatively transient college town with many new faces arriving every day, and familiar ones heading for the hills at an exponential rate…. It’s easy to overlook the influential folks who have paved the bicycle friendly path that got us to where we are today. For the final month of the year, we turn our focus to Wolverine Farm Publick House founder and director, Todd Simmons.
Not only did he serve on the board of Bike Fort Collins in its early days, he has penned many an impassioned bicycle advocacy article (page 38). In the height of the holiday season, managing both business and family, we are grateful for the time to sit and chat with a seminal figure in the FoCo bike tapestry.
Originally from eastern Kansas, Todd grew up free-range on rural roads headed wherever his legs could pedal. Childhood friend, Jason Shelman (insert foreshadowing), was his usual partner in two wheeled crime and influential in shaping his love of bikes. As a junior in high school, Todd got into mountain bike racing and trail building; it was 1993 and the sport was just gaining traction at the national level. From high school, Todd made his way to the University of Kansas (KU) where he focused on Environmental Studies and made Sunflower Bike Shop, where Jason worked, his regular hangout. While at KU, Todd also enjoyed collegiate cycling and raced at the 1997 Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Madison, WI (for reference, topping the podium were the famed JHK and Willow Koerber at the very beginning of their careers)
Todd would eventually follow Jason’s lead and move to Fort Collins in 2002. As the Wolverine site reads: “In early 2002, Todd Simmons moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, with few plans other than to write and hopefully make a difference.” Todd didn’t own a car at this point and spent his days on long rides, taking part in Critical Mass, and steeping in the evolving Fort Collins bike culture. By 2003 Jason opened “Simple Cycles” and began the legendary “Winter Ralleye Rides”. At the same time, Todd was bringing various writers and artists and likeminded compatriots together for what would become Wolverine Farm. The first Wolverine publication, Matterzine, launched in 2003 and by 2005 Wolverine Farm officially became a 501(c)3 non-profit.
In Todd’s own words he “can’t think of a better place to live for riding”. He loves this town, he loves riding his bike in this town. He reflects fondly on memories of long, grueling gravel rides with Jason and magical bike trailer rides along the Poudre when his children were young and compact, and mile after mile of utilitarian bike pedaling…. And above all else, he believes the bike to be the perfect tool for radical social change. Like a keystone species, Todd sees the bike as integral for solving most of life’s problems, or as Wendell Berry puts it, “solving for pattern”.
Once his bike life history was sufficiently chronicled and outlined in my notebook, our conversation turned to hopes and dreams for the future of an even more bicycle friendly Fort Collins. Todd is a visionary intent on a social revolution rooted in getting more people on bikes; a pivot in life and society that allows us to continue to evolve as a species. I walked away from our afternoon chat with a renewed faith and dedication in bringing Fort Collins to the next level of bike town, we surely owe it to the likes of Todd and the influential, bike loving folks who set the keystone for the bike culture we enjoy today.
“In the eyes of the status quo, our actions could be taken as civil disobedience, but we strive to practice what we publish. We are the most common of revolutionaries.”
-Wolverine Publick House
Name and age: Todd Simmons, 46
What do you do for a living? Founder and Director of Wolverine Farm Publishing, a 501(c)3 literary arts non-profit
How long have you lived in Fort Collins? 20 years
How long have you been riding? 40 years
What kind of riding do you do? Mostly a utilitarian rider these days, but also some long gravel road rides and used to race mountain bikes
Do you commute via bike? If so, how far do you commute? Yes, I’ve been commuting by bicycle since I was 15. These days it’s about a 6 mile loop.
Why do you ride? Fresh air, slower pace, more interesting than being stuck in a metal box
What kind(s) of bike(s) do you ride? Whatever bike is rolling! These days mostly a Raleigh gravel set-up.
What would you like to tell someone who is thinking about starting to ride a bike? Do not waste another moment, put that bike under you and start LIVING!
What makes you smile when you’re on your bike? Birds. People stuck in cars. Clouds. Signs. The wind!
What got you into riding your bike? Was there a specific moment/experience? Freedom
Where is your favorite place to ride? North and west of Fort Collins, any gravel road will do.
What are the biggest improvements you’ve seen for bicycling in Fort Collins? Connector trails, and more crazy bicycle-centric people who give a f#@k about things.
What gets you on your bike on a cold, rainy, crummy day? The knowledge that I won’t feel as cold and crummy on the inside once I start riding my bicycle.
How often do you ride your bike (vs. drive)? I ride 5 days a week and probably drive 3-4.
Any last comments? The revolution is coming, and it’s coming on a bicycle.
Did you enjoy reading about Todd? Read about other inspiration individuals just like him who ride bikes here.