Before Web 2.0, blogs, web pages and even before the Internet existed, there was Usenet. Usenet is a collection of “newsgroups” — thousands of different discussion topics loosely organized into various hierarchies.

One of the hierarchies is rec.bicycles. Rec is for “recreation.” rec.bicycles — pronounced “wreck bicycles” — is further subdivided into rec.bicycles.soc, rec.bicycles.marketplace, rec.bicycles.misc, and so forth. You can still access these groups via Google Groups, among other methods. I believe Microsoft Outlook still supports subscribing to Newsgroups. I know Thunderbird and several other mail clients do.

I recently found some of my early posts to rec.bicycles.* from the early 90s. Here’s an example:

Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.soc
From: (Richard F. Masoner)
Subject: Re: Is there an anti-cycle-commuting conspiracy?
Message-ID: <cgp1n7>
Organization: sdf public access Unix, Dallas TX 214/436-3281
References: <cgii37>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1993 15:28:19 GMT
Lines: 18

In article <cgii37> Steve Green <steve> writes:
>I suddenly realized that NOBODY I know is supportive of my cycle
>commuting. My parents insist it dangerous. My wife says little
>against it, but never says anything for it either. And my friends
>just think I'm insane.

Everyone I know thinks I'm an absolute nut because of the
21 miles I commute through heavy traffic. Everyone I work
with is amazed I'm not dead yet; my wife, like yours, isn't
negative, but she isn't absolutely positive either.

>Maybe my continued cycle commuting as actually a manifestation
>of rebellious feels?

I'm convinced this is the case for me. I love it!
Richard F. Masoner
Seen on a magazine cover: "Guns don't kill people, television does"

I realize Usenet was about a decade old by the time I found it in 1989. Are there any other Usenet oldtimers here at CBB?

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0 thoughts on “rec.bicycles”

  1. I wasn’t into cycling way back then, I was much more of a geek and was into more sci-fi and horror and such. So I read lots of alt.horror, rec.comics, things like that. I was a regular on alt.horror.cthulhu for a couple years when I was going through my HP Lovecraft kick.

    Usenet was internet dicussion at its finest. And I remember vividly the end of it all: when AOL opened up the internet to their users. I still shiver when someone says “Me too”…

  2. Richard says:

    ahh, those were the days, before AOL, before http.

    Archie and Gopher FTW!!

  3. Mark Wood says:

    I think I stumbled on it around 1993 while taking my first computer programming course. I remember constantly refreshing the newsfeed after the first time I posted to rec.bicycles, waiting for someone to respond. Felt fun and now seems a bit sad 😉 Who can forget the endless helmet debates?

  4. BSR says:

    …or sidewalk vs. street debates.

    Come to think of it, they might still be going….

  5. Yup! And, before that, dial-up BBS systems. 🙂

    Forgive the self-serving plug, but I couldn’t resist name-dropping rec.bicycles.marketplace in this recent article:

    Usenet forever!


  6. SuperCommuter says:

    I was also 8 in 1989… ex-bf and I loved to play the “When I was 8, you were 18” game (ten years older than me….maybe that’s why he’s my ex….)

    But yeah – everyone thinks I am crazy to bike through busy thoroughfares…..I flat out feel rebellious when I am cycling – FIGHT THE MAN!!!!!

  7. enrique says:

    I practically spent my college years surfing usenet (the www didn’t have nearly as much content). Thanks to Google Groups, you can still access usenet because all of those discussion groups are aggregated there.

  8. Noah says:

    I still use USENET (via google groups, now) to participate in genuine old-school newsgroups. Although I had dial-up access to an old AT&T UNIX server back in ’86 or ’87, all I did was putz around on gopher and tinkered with anonymous FTP a bit. Between FTP and bulletin boards, I got “text files” to read. I became an avid usenet READER in 1991 or so, but come mid and late 90’s I was starting to actively participate. From ’86-’97 I spent a lot more time on local bulletin boards posting in forums there. FIDOnet and WorldLink gave me access to people around the world.

    I miss those days, sometimes.

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