Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Get Up On Your Bike, Get Down On Your Bike or Go Get A Bike.

       Just wondering...Why isn't everyone out on a bicycle? At least three days a week. So many options for those who are capable...mountain bikes, road bikes, fat bikes, electric-assist bicycles, recumbent bikes and handcycles...on road, off road, bicycle trails, rail to trail conversions, you can even ride indoors on a bike trainer (which is what I'm doing as I dictate this.).
        We know that it's healthiest to get up and move. Cycling is a cure for chronic knee pain, foot pain, back pain or even the pain of depression and the double curse of bad attitude and bad luck. It takes so little time and even less money to pop a little air into a two-wheeler's tires and drop a spot of oil on a neglected chain for a lap or two around the neighborhood.
        Do the math...what it'll cost you to get rolling will be repaid many times over by enriched living and a longer life span on this blessed planet. I've been preaching these verses for many decades, along with my gospel of healthy food selection and consumption...and, I realize, all the ranting and preaching will mean nothing until people are either desperate or stumble upon and recognize the solutions that are laying in their path.
        Do the math...we only get so many upright hours. The time is NOW to put those minutes to good use. So, here I am the motivational speaker,  riding my Cyclops Bicycle Trainer and talking into my phone, while at work.... Come to think of it,  I'd rather be wrenching and listening to Michael Franti lyrics on the shop stereo.  No, in fact, I'd rather be out on my bicycle breathing hard and listening to a mockingbird concert under a sharp blue sky.
        I'm not too far from retirement and even though I own a comfortable rocking chair, I am hoping to give it less time than I give my Brooks Professional bicycle saddle.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

One Quarter Of A Million Miles On A Bicycle (and I still thirst for hills)

        The dark days of January, no swimming to be done, outdoor cycling in snow and slush...not fun, television viewing of the national scene (the clown president and the waves he makes)...not palatable! Winter business in the bike store...non existent. So, I read and I dream and I watch videos of climbing cols in the Pyrenees and the Alps.
        The snow finally fell yesterday (end of January). Drought year? I'd say so. XC skiing is usually an energy outlet but, we need a base and two days ago the surface consisted of rock and pine needles...rough on the skis. Almost February and I'm thinking of how good it'll feel to spin up warm foothill pavement forty-five miles west of here.... when I get a day off.
        My wife says I should think about retirement and selling the store. How many days do we have left to hop on our bicycles and pursue dreamy climbs?  Time in the saddle is worth a million bucks...maybe she's right. No time like the present to ponder the possibilities here. February often brings sunny warm days, even in the mountains of Northern California. The foothills, however, are coming into their prime. The almond blossoms are causing a white/pink riot on the valley floor and the winds are warm and gentile.
       Our mission: to get more butts on bikes. Bicyclists, their steeds and cycling has had my focus for the last four decades. I don't need to be a retailer/ mechanic to get this done. However, I do need an income. so, if you know anyone..."Own your own small business, selling a product you're passionate about." Life in Chester, California is exceptional...abundant pristine water, excellent neighbors and guaranteed return customers every Spring and Summer, followed by a colorful Autumn and an extremely quiet Winter.
        The "good life" has always been an uphill climb, it's supposed to be...it's called... Earning It.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Moment That Changes Everything

        Three weeks in the city...survival depends on a radically heightened awareness of people and their machines ...congestion and movement and noise. We pedal various routes through the hilly suburbs of  Burbank and Glendale during the late morning hours, after the commuters rush off to work and finish before they scurry around seeking lunch.
         Cars backing out of driveways and popping out of parallel parking slots have to be our number one concern. Leaf blowers constantly throw clutter under our tires and obscure our aural sensory warning system, as we are fully tuned to the warning hums of rolling tires and moaning engines. We've had heart-stopping moments when car doors are flung open in our path or gadget fascinated drivers blow through traffic signs and signals in the same space that we felt we were entitled to.
         California and many other states have new laws requiring motorists to give pedestrians and cyclists a safe cushion of space before passing, usually three feet however, drivers have no fear of tickets or reprisals if they ignore this legal courtesy....and there are always a few who resent the new law and feel adamantly that the foot powered traveler has no right to share the right of way that has been dominated for one hundred years by motorists.
         We all have had those close calls when we say, "I saw my life flash in front of me." In fact, just yesterday, I sat at a traffic signal on a busy boulevard here in Burbank, patient like the Buddha, with my foot on the clutch. The green light told me to proceed, I pushed on the gas and let up on the clutch , feeling entitled to safe passage, when my wife put her hand on my wrist and gasped, I hesitated with my right foot just as a red light running Jeep Wrangler bore down from the left at 40+ mph narrowly missing my front grill.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Third Wave Of Off-road Cycling

        This new wave of off-road cycling may be the biggest yet. The first wave rolled in slowly during the fifties, sixties and early seventies. The Rough Stuff Fellowship met weekly for explorations throughout the British Isles from 1950 well into the 70's. Stateside, explorers like John Finley Scott and unheralded others were adapting bicycles for the exploration of abandoned railroad grades and forgotten roads throughout the West. I was riding "bombproof" ten-speeds up rugged lookout tower roads in the southern Sierra Nevada.
        In the late seventies an entrepreneurial group of young suburban men had the wherewithal to weld up a new kind of bicycle for accomplishing off-road explorations and expeditions into the unpaved tracks beyond American neighborhoods.. After a handful of years of experimentation with steel tubes, the money changers entered the temple and promoted "Mountain Biking" into a monster bigger than all other types of cycling combined. Here began the Second Wave Of Off-road Cycling.
       Through the subsequent decades the machine became much more specialized and complicated, therefore exceedingly expensive, (incorporating sophisticated suspension hardware, hydraulics and electrification)....again putting the cost out of the reach for the common person interested in cycling.
       It wasn't until the second decade of the 21st Century that folks remembered that almost any bicycle can be ridden on the seldom-motored backroads of North America.
       In what I'm calling The Third Wave, "Gravel Grinding" has become a "thing" and is getting a remarkable amount of press.  Hundreds of young outdoor enthusiasts are signing-up for organized events that feature trails, double-tracks and dirt or gravel roads. The real attraction, I think, besides the lack of motor traffic, is the space to use individual creativity in designing and constructing the "perfect ride" by using the entire pallet of cycling components and designs developed over the last several decades.
        In our local new event...the "Grinduro"...cyclocross, fitness hybrids and mountain bikes ride side by side without obvious criticism or judgements that were common during previous events structured around specific competitions. A festive and all-inclusive vibe brings a whole new contingent together for nothing more than... "fun on a bicycle".

Friday, December 8, 2017

In The Sauna In My Half-Birthday Suit


        Celebrating and starting the day in my Thera Sauna with my wonderful best friend, Lisa. I'm going to admit...it's not a great time of year for those of us who'd rather be naked. In public, I prefer clothes, just so you know. Swimming, sunning, soaking, sauna-ing and gardening however, are performed better without. I don't think this is too radical, but then I'm a Left Coast man...a little different. Skin cancer is a bitch. I've  had a few. My dermatologist worked on me this week...Cryotherapy (freezing several spots).
         Sun is good, vitamin D is good, but small doses, please. We take advantage of "pinking opportunities" when we can...twenty minutes of full sun does every body good. We are not exhibitionists, we prefer to not get caught. Interesting though, in France and when visiting family in SoCal there is no such thing as "getting caught". No one cares.
        Showers, pools, beaches and campgrounds in France and Germany may not be smokefree, quite often however, they are suitfree. The campground bathrooms/showers are often coed/ mixed sex or must be executed in such small cubicles that you must leave your clothes outside and therefore enter and exit naked making shyness impossible. So...get over it or stay dirty, sticky and miserable.
        The solstice is in two weeks. The sun will rise earlier and climb higher in the sky every day. Welcoming back the warmer days of 2018 and inviting us to seek out more dips and flips into mountain lakes and streams...oh, the stories we will tell. I only "bagged" twelve lakes last year. I really thought I'd plunge into twice as many. I will most definitely keep you posted...no, I still don't know how to put pictures on my blog page. It's just as well, we'll leave it that way.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Shorter Days

        I continue to show up for work, (75% of success is due to the act of....) however, I am less 'into it' than in previous years. My wife is retired now and she constantly asks, "Wouldn't you rather go on a hike or ride your bike? " Well, of course I would. This next Spring will begin our 24th year as an independent Main St. business. The next time one of my wealthy customers says, "I would love to have a little bike shop in the mountains." I'll throw up a price. We'll see what happens. SF Bay area people are selling one bedroom/ fifty-year old bungalows for $600,000....or more.  
        Follow your passion. Own a business in a mountain paradise...land, buildings, awesome name, on Main St. in the Sierra/ Cascade region of California for $600,000,  plus inventory. I need to work on the sales pitch a little but as P.J. says in the movie 'Angels In The Outfield' "It could happen."... Some "angel" refugee from the urban craziness 200 miles south of here may read my blog. When you've nursed a Main Street business from infancy into a responsible 23 year old, you know it's getting near time to "let go ". I love him/her still and it will always be part of me....but, just possibly, it's time to wander.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Blagnac Blog Block in Burbank

        SoCal...a different world. Not Baja or Costa Rica or Cancun but warm and comfortable and the natives are friendly. We have developed patterns that have made these family visits mighty rewarding. Starting with hugs, even the dog stands for the family hugs. We normally keep shopping and freeway driving and social amusements at a minimum...driving down to the car wash is our "big event".
         We have a private pool and sunning deck for our vitamin D enrichment and hydro-therapy. We eat fresh and healthy. We do a considerable amount of gardening and house maintenance.   We inject humor and enjoy laughing every chance we get. Foothill surfing with bikes and boots is part of our daily regimen. Our fellow walkers and cyclists are courteous and surprisingly friendly...even the blower-holding yard workers show us respect.
        Shouldn't we be flying off to Blagnac with our skinny bikes this time of year? We actually only afford a vacation every other year...our obligations and limited funds keep us within the borders of California. It's all good, not a horrible imprisonment like you might think. We adore several corners of the Golden State ...our ongoing "good roads" research has taken over forty years and should continue for many more. Is There another book "in the works"?  The answer is yes, there is always another book in the works.