Alan Snel ’83 describes himself as “a journalist on wheels.” For 37 years, he’s been exploring the United States from the seat of his bicycle, meeting people and taking notes. Now he’s collected more than 40 stories from his travels and published them in a book called Bicycle Man.
While collecting stories has been Snel’s work for two decades, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown proved the perfect time to finally get to work. “Writing the book during the pandemic was like an ultra-distance bike ride, where it’s impossible to think about crossing the finish line when you start the endeavor,” he says.
The founder of LVSportsBiz.com, which covers the business and politics of sports, stadiums and teams in the Las Vegas market, Snel’s love for cycling began when he was a student at HWS majoring in American studies. As a journalist working for publications such as The Denver Post and The Tampa Tribune, he often biked to his assignments.
Snel has twice bicycled across the United States solo and while those miles might seem lonely, he notes that “when you’re a writer, you never actually bike alone. The stories from the road were my companions.”
While living in Florida, he made frequent day trips along the Withlacoochee Trail and around Lake Okeechobee, worked with retail bicycle shops in the Tampa Bay area and created a group, South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, that hosted a Bicycle Bash festival each fall.
“I would bike the one-day, 120-mile Lake O journey during the week before Thanksgiving to celebrate the end of hurricane season and pay tribute to the old-time Florida towns like Clermont, Pahokee and Moore Haven,” says Snel. “It was a living, breathing history lesson that I could soak up from the seat of a bicycle.”
Snel notes that the bicycle has emerged as an even more powerful transportation tool in this age of physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. “We know bicycling is as mentally and emotionally therapeutic as it is a physical action,” he says. “Life is so much richer when experienced from the perch of a human-powered wheel machine.”
To purchase a copy of Bicycle Man, contact Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com.
In the photo above, Snel holds his bicycle on the steps of the State Capitol in Albany, N.Y., after completing a 158-mile one-day ride from the George Washington Bridge in New York City.