Thursday, May 15, 2014

It's okay to not ride in the rain.

Tomorrow is Bike To Work Day and there’s a 100% chance of rain.  

I love riding in the rain.  TONS of people do it.  It is normal and fun.  You should be careful and visible, but a little planning can make it safe and fun.  I have been mountain bike snorkeling in Cherry Creek Reservoir and ridden with through every imaginable form of downpour, including Hurricane Sandy.  When my new panniers claimed to be waterproof, I submersion tested them.  While I don’t recommend riding through a hurricane, I do recommend going for a ride in the rain!  I’m relatively sure that the human body is 100% waterproof.  I’ve never heard of anyone melting when they get wet.  

That said, I know it is unfamiliar for some people.  If riding in the rain is a small jump on the adventure scale for you, please consider riding to work tomorrow!  I think you’ll be surprised how much fun it is.  

That said, I know that it may be a step too far on the adventure ride scale for some new riders.  It’s okay to take your normal mode of transportation to work tomorrow.  Pick a day in the next week or two to ride.  Drop me a line if you’d like some company riding to work.  I’ll ride with you!

Have a great day!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Let's Talk About Mentors

The author Terry Pratchett had one of his characters describe herself this way, “I’m made up of everyone that has ever changed the way I think.”.  For better or for worse, it rings true with me and I love that description. It fits in well with this topic.  

I had a good day yesterday.  I was reminded of one of my bike mentors when I was a little kid.  Paolo ran an old school bike shop in Denver from the mid 60s through the mid 80s.  When I’m talking old school, I mean old country, old school.  He carried a few lines of complete bikes, but his real business was custom steel race bikes.  His business was based on personal relationships with families like Compagnolo, Colnago, DeRosa and Pinarello.  He did his own importing by going to Italy twice per year to talk with these people and make the deals.  

What triggered this memory for me?  I was a trouble-making little kid on a BMX bike when I ran into Paolo.  What amazed me was that, like many Italian Masters, he wore a perfectly white, starched dress shirt to work every day.  Even the cleanest of bikes get greasy and oily.  Paolo never had a spot on his shirt…. NEVER!  He could listen to a customer for a few minutes, size you up with an experienced eye, and tell you exactly what bike you SHOULD have.  He’d then work with you to find the  bike that got you as much of the qualities of the ideal bike as you could afford.  

The first time I met him, he told me, “Only bike for you…. Colnago Master.”  I was riding a home-made BMX race bike that I’d cobbled together with parts that I could find, trade, and dumpster dive for.  I was 11 years old.  He was, of course, 100% right.  To this day, the only bike for me is a Colnago Master.  I still can’t afford one.  I will someday.  

He saw something in me that day that he liked.  By the end of the week I was sweeping the floors and taking out the trash for his shop.  By week two, he was showing me simple jobs around the shop that I could do that would make his life easier.  They were often things that he didn’t want to do… or things that, if he slipped up, might have gotten his shirt dirty.  But for every 5 or 6 dirty jobs that I’d do, he’d show me how to do something cool and inspiring.  I was hooked.  

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of a formal apprenticeship…. old world-style.  I an hour or 5 in Paolo’s shop every day I could for many, many years.  I learned that it isn’t just what you do, but how you do it that matters.  I’ll never have his eye or his ability to stay clean in a sometimes dirty business, but I have that vision to strive for.  I learned to listen and learn every day.  I learned to give openly of myself with no expectation of return… something that I learned from many people over my years.  I learned that is the way to become the kind of person I want to be.

Last night I posted the clean shirt story on Facebook because I’d had a “clean shirt in the face of some very grimy bikes” kind of day.  My shirt was a vintage bowling shirt made of 100% rayon, but it was one of the rare days that I emerged from the shop clean when I should have been covered in grease.  By morning that blurb had 70+ likes and a bunch of comments.  That told me that I should write about it more and get your stories.  

I’ll post a link to this on Facebook, Twitter and the Washington Area Bike Forum.  I want to hear your stories about great mentors that have influenced you.  I want to know who changed the way you think.  :D  Please post a reply here, on Facebook, Twitter or the Forum.  

Lots of love to you!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Good and Bad Excuses for Not Signing Up For Bike To Work Day.

There are good excuses and bad excuses for not taking part in Bike To Work Day.  I’ll start with the bad.  

I met a fellow at the intersection of Gallows Road and the W&OD Trail today.  It is a light that often takes 4-5 minutes to give a signal to let cyclists and pedestrians to walk.  

Me: Have you signed up for Bike To Work Day yet? 
Dude:  I’m okay.
Me: Cool!  BTWD isn’t about just you though. It is about making cycling better for everyone.
Dude:  Really.  I’m okay.
Me:  Do you like how long you have to wait at this stop light?
Dude: It doesn’t bother me. 
Dude behind dude:  It pisses me off!  What can I do to help???
Me: Signing up for BTWD helps all of the local bike organizations by getting a count of the people who commute by bike.  It is a way to stand up and say “I ride my bike for transportation… not just for sport or for fun.”  
Dude behind dude:  I’ll sign up.  
Chick behind Dude behind dude: Me too!
Me to Dude:  You still okay?
Dude: I’m okay.
Dude behind Chick: I’ll sign up! 

Jump forward 2 minutes.  I’ve given fliers to the other 10 people waiting for the light.  I walk back up to Dude.  

Me: Have a great ride!  
Dude:  I’m okay.

Now I don’t really expect to get enthusiastic support from every cyclist for Bike To Work Day… or any other event or initiative that I’m talking about.  This guy definitely had a view that we see a lot in the area… Complete and total focus on himself.  It is cool if you don’t want to talk about cycling stuff.  I get that.  People want their space.  I do tend to push a few buttons to make a point from time to time.  I didn’t expect this guy to change his song after the initial contact.  Him not changing his song actually helped me talk to the other people in line.  

Let’s get onto a good excuse to not sign up for BTWD.

I met a doctor tonight.  He’s a trauma specialist that works specifically with patients that have nerve damage.  HIs skills are unique and he moves between many hospitals every day… sometimes by helicopter because every moment he can save getting to a patient means that he has a higher probability of saving a life or a limb.  

There were others that had great reasons why they couldn’t sign up.  For me, “I’m okay” doesn’t really qualify in that list.  

If we meet face to face and I ask you to sign up and it is something you really don’t want to do, then just lie to me.  Tell me you’ve already signed up.  I’ll thank you and leave you alone.  Better yet, just sign up.   You won’t have to lie and you’ll feel good that you’ve helped the community.  You might even have a bit of fun.  

Nothing wrong with that at all.  

I love and respect you all…. even Dude.  :D