Bicycle Co. bikes, so we created a section of our journal dedicated to some of the people we’ve been fortunate to call our customers.
Each month we feature a different member of the Brooklyn Bicycle Co. community and share what makes them tick. Read on to learn about the most recent member of our community spotlight...
Stosh Kozlowski - Conservationist, Founder of "Save the Coast or GTFO" - @stoshalex
Where do you call home and explain some of your favorite things about your community?
New Orleans is my home. I live in the Fairgrounds neighborhood, about 6 blocks from where Jazz Fest is held. I love my neighborhood because of the diversity, kindness, friendliness, and altruism we all have for our city. New Orleans is my adopted home, but my wife is from Baton Rouge and that’s why we are here. The consistent warm air, although terribly hot at times, is wonderful for bike riding and commuting.
You recently rode from New Orleans to Nashville Tennessee as part of your annual “Save the Coast or GTFO” ride. Give us the low-down on why you do the ride, and what “Save the Coast” is all about.
Save the Coast or GTFO is an annual ride in the spring, with 2020 to take place around late May. The ride is sponsored by local New Orleans businesses who are concerned with rising sea levels, Louisiana land loss, and the destruction of animal and plant species that we in Louisiana rely upon for our economy and ways of life; essentially, climate change. The LA coast is also an economic engine for our country with a significant amount of breakbulk tonnage pushing down the Mississippi River and being dispersed through the Port of New Orleans to the rest of the world. Our city and Gulf Coast is fundamental for a growing American economy. People may discount this because they may not live in LA, which is understandable, but nonetheless, the country, or just another person, should be made aware of our detriment. Hence our ride for awareness.
The inspiration with my ride began a few years ago when I read this article in the NY Times Magazine.
I was shocked and taken aback. I’m not a geologist, nor am I a person that is able to implement rational, comprehensive policy. Our politicians in Louisiana are either too corrupt or too inept to do the job too. So, I did the only thing I could do - simply, find a reason to talk about it.
You chose to ride a Wythe throughout the entirety of your Save the Coast ride. Why did you choose that specific model, and was it difficult to put in so many miles on a single speed?
The Wythe is my daily rider. New Orleans is flat as a pancake so gears are irrelevant in this town. To be honest, I wanted a challenge. I wanted the ride to have a dynamic of audacity that perhaps most wouldn’t do. So I fixied the ride for about half the way. But as soon as I started to hit those hills in upper Alabama, I started having second thoughts. Once I hit Tennessee - I bonked. The fixie was a no-go from that point on and I had to flop the wheel for the single gear for the remainder of the journey. Call it Catholic guilt, call it catharsis for my partaking in our throwaway lifestyle - but I felt that I had to make a statement to myself. What better way to do it than on a bombproof steel bike? After all, the Wythe could take a beating and keep going. No gears to fix, not even a flat tire. Just glutes, hamstrings and quads to push it.
Do you have any stories from the ride? What was your favorite stop along the way? Any interesting wildlife sightings?
I did make it into Tupelo for Elvis Festival. What a trip that was. In this age of “fostering a rise of the creative class” or “economic development incrementalism,“ Tupelo isn’t trying to be anything other than Tupelo. Further, I had the best damn BBQ brisket sandwich of my life there. All those calories I lost, I gained back that night in food and beer. The people are phenomenal, the visitors are ecstatic to be there and the town is alive as any American town should be. If you get a chance for an evening and happen to be in Mississippi, throw your political sensibilities out the window and get on over to Tupelo for a drink or two. You’ll be happy you did.
Another interesting conversation I had was in Kosciusko, MS with a lady who worked at the visitor's center right off the Natchez Trace. We spoke for over two hours about the way the world is and the way it should be - the mistakes we made in our lives as citizens of a planet and the ways we were desperately trying to change ourselves to be the people we dreamed we could be. As I soaked up the air conditioning and cooled off from the humidity and high temperatures we found common ground in our ideas, aside from our generational gap - she a baby boomer and I a Xennial - or cultural experiences. I have traveled the world and she rarely, if ever, left the south, but there I found a new friend whom I hope to see again soon.
What are you most passionate about? What passions drove you towards your efforts with “Save the Coast.”
I’m angry, to be honest. I‘m angry that we are fucking this whole thing up while others point to the night sky and say “Mars is where we will live.” How the hell are we going to live on a dead rock when we can’t keep the one we got alive?
Kids are sick from poisonous water in Flint. The older people are left to waste in “retirement communities” that we built so they’ll just stay out of our way. The middle-class lady with GMC Yukon XL wants 5 sweet teas in styrofoam cups with straws for her five kids as they breathe without mechanical assistance gazing into the black mirror. It’s a shit show out there, particularly in the south, and I have to try and do something about something.
Every heavy rainfall in New Orleans we are wading through waist-deep water somewhere in the city. The oil companies dredged canals for exploration and don't fill them back in so now a greater amount of saltwater is introduced into the brackish marshland killing the only land we in Louisiana have to slow the impending, deafening onslaught of 100 mph winds that will most surely destroy our state again. And again and again.
Frankly, what drives me is the will for justice. I want justice for people who have done everything they were told to do and get screwed in the end. But I can’t get it - so I’ll ride. I'll feel that pain in my glutes, hamstrings, and quads and I’ll take it. I’ll take that pain for my catholic guilt or for catharsis because that pain will make me feel like I’m doing something about all my anger.
What impact has biking had on your lifestyle?
Man, I don’t know how to answer this. Bicycling is as close to flying as I can get without an engine. It’s Icarus on wheels - don’t go too fast, you might get doored harder. Don’t go too slow - you don’t want to get run over. It keeps my waistline tight and my mind settled. I haven’t owned a car in nearly 8 years. I don’t want to. The majority, if not all, of our countries problems, are built upon keeping those hunks of shit on the road. Too much space, too much money, too many assholes creating negative externalities because they lack the physical manifestation of masculinity in which was denied by their maker. So they buy a canary yellow mustang and peel out in front of a coffee shop at 10am on a Sunday in Westside, Buffalo, NY just so they can show everyone that they might have finally purchased what they were never provided. That happened this past Sunday actually.
The oil, the gas, the common space, the infrastructure, the money, the inept DOT’s of the country, the lives lost consistently, and so much more. All of it comes down to owning a car. It’s a lose, lose, lose situation.
Run us through your perfect Saturday biking around your home town.
My perfect Saturday is sneaking out with my daughter early in the morning while my wife sleeps. I put her in the kids seat that cranks on to the back of my Wythe. We grab a cup of coffee and a chocolate milk at Pagoda Cafe, then decide if we are going to head down to the French Quarter for a NY bagel at Small’s Deli (H&H bagels flown in from NYC) or head to Tastees for a donut that my wife doesn’t like us eating because she says it’s not healthy. Sometimes we take a quick lap around City Park or other times we head to the grocery store to pick up a few things for the day.
The perfect day would have a humidity index below 50% and a few large clouds in the sky that may provide a respite from the hit Lousiana sun. I would choose to ride the side roads with the least amount of potholes and perhaps get lucky and find that traffic is light and I can take one of those smooth paved collector roads.
In the evening I would hook up with my friend Max. We would put the colorful spoke lights on to better illuminate our ride. Then we would debate the best route to take to round the city. Should be head down toward the river and the French Quarter, then head upriver to Uptown? Or should we go to the Lake Pontchartrain, round our way through Lakeview, through Navarre then MidCity and find the perfect bar to pull up to? Eventually, we would stand on the corner of Esplanade Ave and N. Broad St. with our bikes under us, getting our last point across to each other, then break away with my going upriver to Fairgrounds and Max heading downriver to Treme.
“Next week?” one of us would yell.
“Next week!” the other would yell back.
Share something that you are really excited about right now. It could be a favorite book, recipe, cocktail, movie, etc.
I’m excited about trees. Yeah, trees. I finally got my ass out of the public sector and into a hard-working job with a tree service company. I’m outside all day and the goals are simple for the time being. No more “should I reply all or just reply to the sender?” anxieties. No more precious, little political egos at City Hall to run into. Just the trees and my willingness to keep them alive and do the best little thing I can do for what I’m passionate about. Monday comes, and I’m happy it’s here. Tuesday is next and there’s no more “Is it really only Tuesday?!” I’m healthy, I’m paid well and I’m working with my real friends.
Otherwise, I’m happy that I have two feet, two legs, two arms, and two hands. The days go by slow here. Unlike New York. No one cares too much if you’re the best that you are at your job or if you make money to be part of their club. I’m excited about New Orleans. I’m excited about my family and I’m excited about waking up for tomorrow.
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