Meet a Bike-Tographer

BikeLife caught up with Martha Retallick, a cyclist and photographer (or bike-tographer, as she likes to call it), who has ridden through all 50 states. She recently had a show of her photos right off the Tucson Cyclovia route.

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Did you coin the name bike-tography?

I didn’t coin the name. But I sure enjoy using it!

What is bike-tography?

It’s the art of combining bicycling with photography.

How long have you been a photographer?

40 years, more or less.

How did you get interested in photographing bikes?

I got started when I was bicycling through all 50 of the states (during 1980-92). Although I tried not to focus on my bike, it got into quite a few of my photos.

What’s your favorite part about what you do?

Telling a bicycling story with my camera!

What was your favorite state to bike through?

It’s hard to choose just one, so here’s a group: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Mississippi, New Mexico and the Canadian province of Alberta.

I have to ask about your jail time while you were biking around the country [we noted this on her website bio!].

That happened on the invitation of the mayor of Dumas, Arkansas. I was looking for a place to stay indoors because of all the mosquitoes. (Dumas is near the Mississippi River, America’s biggest mosquito magnet.) I was offered the jail.

I saw no prisoners, only shadows under the bottom of the visitors’ room door. I was given a foam rubber mattress, a sheet and a blanket for a night on the floor. From the cells, I heard coughs, muffled conversations and a deep male voice humming a nameless blues song with no particular beginning or end.

The guards fixed me chicken pot pie for supper. To this day I’m convinced that there were downers in it because I fell asleep as soon as I finished the second pie.

Next morning? Breakfast of eggs, hash browns and sausage fixed for me by the guards. Those guys never failed to call me “ma’am.” The next day, that Mississippi River Delta heat didn’t stop me from riding a FAST 70 miles. There’s nothing quite like freedom and mobility… especially after a night in jail.

To see more of Martha’s photography, check out her blog or her website.