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First Person

Got the beat

On his drum-equipped bike, Galen Mook, 25, will be riding Boston’s streets every day in May for National Bike Month.

By Sandra A. Miller
May 2, 2010

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You call it a jam bike. What is its purpose? It’s a joyful nuance of the bike advocacy movement. Whereas a lot of bike advocacy comes in the form of “these are our streets,” I feel like, yes, these are our streets, but they’re also everybody’s streets. I want drivers to notice I’m riding and pay attention to bikers, but I don’t want them to feel antagonistic toward us.

Do biking and drumming really go together? Definitely. It’s the rhythm of the movement. I did marching band for six years in middle school and high school, and we got it drilled into our heads that you walk and play in time. So switching to a bike was a natural progression. They are similar, steady movements – the rotation of the pedals and the movement of the legs.

Do you drum with one hand? When it’s safe, I’ll ride no hands and go at it. But, typically, I play with my right hand and my left hand will tap.

Where did you get the bike? It was passed down to me by a former jam biker named Noah. He was a Berklee musician, but when he moved to Chicago he decided to keep the jam bike in the streets of Boston.

In the passing of the torch – well, bike – did you feel some responsibility? Certainly. One of the first things I did was organize group rides with it. I’d get 10 to 20 people together and we’d go on a Sunday afternoon ride. I’d feel like the Pied Piper leading this big band of bikers.

How do drivers react to your playing? They smile, dance, or give a thumbs up. Some people will honk in time with my drumming.

Favorite place to bike in Boston? The seaport is really nice, with wide avenues, and the echo from the drum is great there. But for a midnight ride, I love the financial district. It’s dead empty, and you get three lanes of one-way traffic, but there is no traffic. You feel like you’re in a ghost town with these towering buildings around you.

(Photograph by Ion Sokhos)
  • May 2, 2010 cover
  • may 2 globe magazine cover
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