By Davey Davis
Salt Lake City, Utah – Salt Lake City’s cycling community lost one of its countercultural luminaries. Cory ‘Zed’ Bailey, or Zed Sonder as they were later known, committed suicide in Hilo, Hawaii sometime in June. Zed (who went by they/them pronouns later in life) was avid about inclusion of the weird, unconventional, and strange in local two-wheeled culture, and was most active in Salt Lake City from around 2005-2013. They founded SaltCycle, a local forum and blog for underground cycling events, and under their design it was a thriving community resource that shaped the city’s culture of casual cycling events.
A ride for Zed will take place on Saturday, July 18, 2020. Details Below.
Zed was a mercurial, passionate community builder and a truth seeker. They had a joy and drive about the things that inspired them that was truly remarkable to witness. Zed loved ‘freak’ bikes (welded together from pieces of kids' bicycles or abandoned frames) and was central to encouraging others to build these bikes. They would throw Tall Bike Jousts and U Bombs: cycling activities where participants did ridiculous things on these shaky, home-made machines. Bicycling in Salt Lake owes a ton to them. Their influence certainly allowed many people to consider themselves part of a bicycle community without needing to be a macho athlete or avid mechanic.
Zed was a freak in the best sense of the word. They were too punk for punks, too strange for burners, and too queer for queers. I considered them a friend, co-ran SaltCycle with them, and we probably organized a dozen events together, but I still don’t feel like I knew them at all. When Zed’s old friends and collaborators were made aware of their death, a thousand little threads came together: Zed’s pursuit of reformed spirituality in the form of religious ideas that forefronted compassion over dogma, activism and filmmaking that re-thought homelessness, and many more. They made hundreds of youtube videos, scattered across many accounts, and re-wrote sections of the New Testament to fit their humanitarian vision for the world.
Zed’s identity, name, social media profiles, and enthusiasm would flicker and change with the seasons, and they were open about their mental health challenges. Zed’s unique nature and struggles were not without their very real downsides. They could spiral into depressive episodes, which could manifest to their friends as spite. After living in Salt Lake City, Zed moved to Portland, Oregon and was similarly involved in bicycling activities there, until their alleged socially inappropriate behavior toward women caused people there to ban them from participating in community events. But unfortunately, nobody was harder on themselves than Zed. When I think about Zed’s death, I think Zed would want us to take the occasion to encourage everyone to push for a better world. To be better members of society, and to evolve beyond the norms that we’re stuck in, mentally or communally.
In remembrance of Zed at their best, on Saturday, July 18th we’ll be riding ridiculous bikes down through the University of Utah campus, starting at the Officer’s Circle Bandstand at 6:00 PM. Join us, or tune into the livestream that will be posted on Facebook’s Saltcycle Page: facebook.com/groups/saltcyclecommunity.
To wrap up, here’s a goofy supercut Zed came up with for an alleycat in about 2010: They had people sing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody line by line which I edited together into the following masterpiece. In many of the shots you can see Zed grinning like an idiot and eyeing the camera in giddy anticipation of how stupid, and silly, and wonderful the art piece they were working on was going to be, which is how I choose to remember them.
Zed Bailey also created this video to promote Pedalpalooza in Portland: