Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So many ways that the simple act of riding a bicycle helps you rise above the quicksand that's sucking at the soles of your shoes. Improved health may be the most important...that shrill sucking sound emitted by the healthcare system, accompanied by the drone of non-stop drug ads on radio, computer and TV, can be held at bay by practicing self-propulsion, occasional dancing and frequent stretching. The bicycle provides all three activities and assures that your cardiovascular system is throbbing and flushing like it was designed to do.
The bicycle can't fill all of our transportation needs but, it can put a serious dent in our habitual contribution to the petrol-chemical mafia that dominates much of our culture. When you feel better, due to increased breathing, which comes with participatory locomotion, you want to live cleaner and eat better. The fast-food, big box, endless asphalt parking lot culture won't even miss you, until...possibly, you convince a dozen of your friends that there is a healthier way to utilize the precious hours we are given to tread on this planet.
Beat the system, this has been a consistent theme that I have practiced for most of my sixty years. I pay my taxes and I am generous with those less fortunate but, I am always looking for a way to avoid the pitfalls and boobytraps laid out by the dominant consumption-dependant society we live in. I didn't own and operate a motor vehicle, a television, a phone, a clothes dryer or a computer for over fifteen years...I abstained, chose not to participate in this normal high impact lifestyle that Americans accepted as necessary and normal for the last sixty years.
Now, for the last twenty years, I have been participating in this American lifestyle, this behavior that the rest of the World is now struggling to adapt. Besides eating healthful foods on a regular basis, the one constant throughout my adult life has been the daily riding of my bicycle. Somehow it helps me hold the idea that I am beating the system, resulting in a long life and an excellent attitude...which I believe, benefits everyone.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hello April! Once again my bikeshop bank account slams down to ZERO. I borrow from personal savings and hope a body walks in and buys a bicycle or a kayak, or both. Materially the shop is fine, but it's not always easy to turn inventory into cash. The first three months of the year are quiet in the non-ski area regions of the high Sierra. Many businesses evaporated in Plumas County this winter...many will never come back. Online shopping is causing small town America to shrink to a cluster of coffee houses, convenience stores and a plethora of corporate franchise restaurants.
Rural America is shrinking and those who hang on are living with less. Book, appliance and new clothing stores have disappeared from small towns. Many surviving storefronts are now secondhand or thrift shops..."yard sales with a business license". Big box retail is usually within an hours' drive and country folk are still able to afford a weekly supply run to one of the Chinese product- filled, characterless shells, to stock up on toilet paper, hamburger helper and cheese puffs.
When gas prices creep up beyond six bucks a gallon I believe the surviving country families will finally co-op on these shopping trips and distribute goods out of their homes. It's a brave new world, alright, and the one good thing about these circumstances is that we are getting to know our neighbors much more intimately than we ever imagined we would. Are these just tough times or is this the way it's going to be from now on?