BOISE, Idaho (AP) — According to "The Naked City," a 1948 film noir, there are "8 million stories" in any city. Boiseans Andrew Ford and Glenn Landberg are out to prove that more than a few of them are about bicycles.
Their blog, "A New Bike," features a collection of stories about what it's like to ride a bike — on principle, through snow, with a disability, in search of solitude or out of necessity.
They've collected around 40 stories since the beginning of the year. The mission behind the project?
"Telling good stories about ordinary bikers," said Ford. "This isn't really about politics or advocacy."
But if their blog happens to encourage more people to take up biking or builds support for more bike-friendly roads in the Treasure Valley, that's OK with them.
The blog is sleek, with short narratives, photographs, videos and audio.
"Ten or 20 years ago, blogs didn't exist. If we'd wanted to do something like this then, it would have been impossible," said Ford.
The format lets them integrate many creative elements.
"It's like starting a magazine, but at a fraction of the cost," Ford said.
Ford, 25, and Landberg, 24, have collected bike stories from around the West, from San Francisco to Portland to Spokane.
There's Josie, a 7-year-old Boise girl photographed on her way to buy frozen yogurt. She plans to ride bikes her whole life, she says. Among her future professions: astronaut and dog walker.
There's Randee Sue Pratt, a 28-year-old woman paralyzed from the waist down by the birth defect spina bifida. Biking is her main mode of transportation around Boise. Her modified bike, powered by her arms only, tends to mystify people, who often refer to it as "a contraption," Pratt told the bloggers.
Ford and Landberg studied at Boise State — journalism and communications, respectively. Not surprisingly, they're avid bikers.
They support themselves and the blog through freelance design and photography work.
"It's fine, picking up a few dollars here and there," said Landberg, "but there's less motivation to do that than this project that is not, at this moment, making money."
Ultimately, they want to turn A New Bike into their full-time job. They're looking for bike-related sponsors.
Landberg and Ford started the blog in January. They "geared up" and ventured out into the wintry Boise streets to find their first story subjects, Ford said.
Since then, they've networked through the local bike community to find interviewees. They've also done their legwork — literally — to find interviewees like Boise barber Reba Rosen.
Rosen cuts hair in the basement of the Idanha Hotel. She's a year-round bicyclist who hasn't owned a car since the Ford administration. She rents a car when she needs one. "You don't need a gym if you ride your bike enough," she said.
Rosen's bike also offers free advertising. Ford and Landberg walked into her shop and asked to interview her after they noticed her "beat up and much-loved" 14-year-old Schwinn parked on the sidewalk with its handwritten sign: "Barber in, come on down!"
Rosen, who loves riding in Boise's temperate climate and flat terrain, thinks the blog is cool. So do her customers.
Landberg and Ford have crossed paths with celebrities in the course of their story-collecting. The Barenaked Ladies played a recent show in Boise. The day before the show, the bloggers recognized Tyler Stewart, the band's drummer, on the street.
Ford introduced himself.
"It was my birthday, so I was running on a little 'liquid confidence,' " he explained.
The introduction turned into a long bike ride with Stewart to check out Boise's attractions (they loaned the drummer a roommate's Schwinn).
That led to free concert tickets and a long interview for the blog during which Stewart expounded on his love for bicycles, the solitude they provide and the ability of bike lovers to "quickly identify" like-minded folk.
When Landberg and Ford started the blog, their interviews lasted only between 15 and 20 minutes. Conversations have gotten longer lately. They've gotten better and more candid.
"We've seen peoples' offices, or gone with them to the YMCA to talk about strength training," said Landberg.
Landberg recalled Ben, a San Francisco father who commutes to work on a fixed-gear bike.
"He started talking about his support of gay marriage. We hadn't asked him about that, but he was comfortable enough with us and with the interview to talk about it," Landberg said.
"The bike is a jumping-off point for subjects you weren't anticipating."
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.