What do women want in male partner? For Colorado photographer Corie Spruill, it might be a taste for home-cooked Italian pasta, a dashing sense of style (think bowtie), and a set of well-oiled gears she could use to ride him all over town.
That's the surreal vision of Spruill's new project, the "2014 Bike Date Calendar," which depicts women bonding with anthropomorphic cycles in the shower, at a grassy picnic, over a barroom pool table, and in other pleasant settings. The 30-year-old photographer spent nearly two years making the series with friends in Carbondale, a small town in the Rockies 120 miles west of Denver. She hopes to give a different portrayal of female riders than the ones in more mainstream calendars, such as the European extravaganza of swimsuits, body oil, and national holidays that is Cyclepassion.
"Hot women on bikes can be good," Spruill says. "But it's been done."
Instead, the photographer shows women having more nuanced, emotionally resonant interactions with their two-wheeled buddies. That might mean twin sisters sharing milkshakes with a tandem bike at an old-timey Carbondale diner, for example, or a Santa hat-wearing lady canoodling with a cherry-red cycle under the mistletoe. These are the kind of things that matter in a real relationship, Spruill says – which indeed she enjoys with her own ride, a full-suspension Maverick ML7 that she takes on soul-satisfying journeys on her favorite trails.
"Bike Date" is partly a comment on the lack of deep connections between human partners, which Spruill says can be "our biggest frustration with men." It's also (probably unintentionally) an ode to "object sexuality," that supposed psychiatric condition that has lovebirds swooning over inanimate masses like a church altar rail and the Golden Gate Bridge. Not to imply anybody in "Bike Date" has more than a platonic relationship with their cycles – it's just a funny undertone. "We need men because we need romance in life," Spruill explains. "But if a bike could provide romance, we might not need a man."
You can purchase one of the calendars here; 20 percent of the proceeds go toward Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit telling the stories of women in conflict nations. And stay tuned for Spruill's next project, which will probably cover the more hunky end of the spectrum with "men who don't have a lot of clothing on," she says, "with bikes of course."
She thinks there could definitely be an audience for that series, based on the reaction of one friend who heard about the idea. "I didn't even have to ask her. She just stood up and said, 'I'd buy that!'"