Checking In: Twelve Months With The Trellis

Checking In: Twelve Months With The Trellis

The Trellis debuted in June 2023 and has published 29 original stories while maintaining a comprehensive calendar of local biking events. It's been so much fun to capture small moments and big stories, but I haven't taken the time to explain what the whole point of this project is yet. Read on to learn more about what we're doing here and consider providing feedback on the last year through this survey.

Exploring Center City with Wednesday Night Rides.

Why The Trellis

I started this website because I want to inspire people to ride bikes.

What's cool is that the above could mean anything. Maybe it means someone rides their bike to the grocery store or to work for the first time. They might explore a new trail or park they've never been to before. Or maybe they join a group or ride further than they ever have before. Someone might see a photo from The Trellis and think, "damn, I could do that," then pump up the tires on that old bike collecting dust and go ride for the first time in years. Any of the above could be life changing. Bikes are a healthier, more sustainable, and less expensive way to get around than most alternatives. Best of all, they're just plain fun. And the The Trellis Calendar makes it easier to find a ride to join than ever before.

My formative years were spent on BMX bikes. Here, I'm jumping over John S at the Hell Track (RIP) in King of Prussia around 2009.

Shifting Gears

I grew up riding BMX bikes around Philly and mountain biking in Valley Forge. I spent some time away from bikes but eventually picked up a road bike while deployed to Okinawa in the Navy and started doing laps around the airfield for exercise and riding into town on liberty with friends. I thought it was awesome because the gym was boring to me and I didn't have to pay for a cab or waste my time waiting for the bus or walking across base to go places.

Stefan Ruff started criterium racing in 2024 with KRT and competed in nearby Riverton, NJ this summer.

Inspiration and Storytelling

I wanted to use my bike for bigger adventures and I learned a lot from visiting websites like and The Radavist. That's what inspired me to ride to work the first time, register for a race for the first time, and ride long distances for the first time. It was life changing. As much as I still love those websites, I often think about all of the amazing stories going untold right here in our backyard. It's fun to read about bikepacking through Europe and adventure cycling in the Southwest, but what about Philly?!

Philly can be pretty dirty (read: there's a ton of gravel and single track easily accessible without a car). Riding with Philly Gravel Club is one of many ways to explore it.

Despite a few barriers we all know too well, Philly is an amazing place to ride bikes. I often say that Philly has the best cycling culture in the country (not Portland, not NYC), we just need to do a better job telling the story. There are so many different ways to ride here and so many great people to ride with. The Trellis aims to prove that. No two stories are alike. If you don't feel like reading the stories, the photos speak for themselves. Quality photography glamorizes an activity that many people unfortunately don't understand or even frown upon. Photos on The Trellis are free to use because I want you all to look cool in front of your friends.

Elicia Epstein teamed up with Barnes Foundation and Neighborhood Bike Works to host Community Bike Photo Portraits and connect West Philly residents with art in their neighborhoods.

A Creative Outlet

I also wanted to create a website that would give Philly cyclists a place to share their stories outside of the creative confines of Instagram. I see some great stuff on social media, but I envision The Trellis as a platform to more deliberately practice art and storytelling. It's also a place to get goofy and experiment. One of my favorite projects was writing a bike-themed horror story set in Philly for Halloween. Why not? I've always admired how skateboarding and art are so intricately intertwined and I wish that we, as cyclists, better embraced the arts to elevate our community.

Rrose Sélavy

I thought long and hard about the website's brand. There's a lot of ambiguity here but I think that's part of the fun and, well, the trellis and a bicycle wheel on a bench are already established symbols in Philadelphia. The logo for The Trellis was inspired by Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His first readymade, Bicycle Wheel wasn't originally intended to be a work of art - rather a diversion to stimulate his imagination. Nevertheless, it came to redefine what a work of art could be and how its spectator's interpretation could influence the creative act. Whether The Trellis is a silly distraction (most likely), a work of art (debatable), or a revolutionary idea (lol), I really love how well the symbol of Bicycle Wheel represents the project.

Philly Bike Polo hosted a weekend-long tournament last summer uplifting trans, women, femme, and non-binary players that drew teams from far and wide.

A Year In

One year in, The Trellis has had over 20,000 views from around the world with the calendar being the most popular page. Rounding out the top five are The Pennypack-Wissahickon Connection, Loop the Delaware! Camden-Palmyra-Philly (by Daniel Paschall), Why I Trained Indoors for the Atlas Mountain Race (by Nick Marzano), and Citywide Alleycat III.

Raphael Xavier's independent film, Swerve Eli, tells a story of growth and mentorship through the lens of Philly's wheelie culture.

Going Forward

The Trellis has been really fun. It's also been a lot of work. Going forward, I hope to bring on more contributors to tell stories about what they think is cool from their diverse perspectives. I hope to support people who have an idea for a project even if it doesn't fit the existing format of this website. I’d love to develop a print edition. I’d love to figure out a dignified and sustainable way to finance all of this and even bigger projects. There's no rush. I'm not looking to get rich off of this, but I hope to enrich the community I'm proud to be a part of. I hope to contribute to efforts or establish fundraisers that break down barriers to cycling. I'm particularly interested in encouraging women to participate and excel in a community where they have long been underrepresented.

If you would like to contribute original work to The Trellis or have ideas about how to improve it, I hope you'll reach out. If you're reading this, this is your website, and reading isn't the only way to participate. This was never meant to be about me and I want to hear your story too. Please consider providing feedback on the last year through this survey and thanks so much for reading The Trellis 🧡