Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cogent Thoughts On "Why The Bicycle"?

        A few years ago my son asked, "Dad, why have you focused so much energy on the bicycle and cycling?" I didn't give him a good answer then...I'm sure I said something like; I didn't want to spend my life producing beer or, I'm allergic to chalk dust and teacher's lounges.
         I woke up on a Tuesday....after a long bicycle ride on Monday...with the answer. The bicycle is symbol of Respect. Respect for each other and Respect for the environment. The bicycle can be a therapeutic tool. Cycling teaches us what to do with hills and headwinds. The whole body gains a "cyclical knowledge"...each bone, muscle and organ contributing and demanding cooperation and action.  I'm not so sure he would have understood these concepts ten years ago but,  I'll bet he would now.
        Twenty years of actively selling bicycles to my community (which covers Northeastern California) and forty years of promoting, publishing and waxing poetic about cycling (and where that effort will take you in life),  I've finally figured out a way to describe what I'm up to by focusing on bicycles and cycling.
        To think that I could make a fair living by promoting the bicycle and it's use, is really something special. The promotion of cycling and bicycles in my region is a humble pursuit...I have only convinced a handful of souls that the daily use of the bicycle is a worthwhile investment of their time. It's a start.
        When the price of a gallon of gasoline tops $4 my job becomes a lot easier. The rewards are so obvious. It's still a puzzle to me, why wouldn't half of my neighbors be riding bicycles around town when errands call? Don't they see that firing up the motorcar or heavy hauler truck is expensive, unnecessary and harmful to the rest of us?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Welcome To My Morning At Ye Olde Bicycle Shoppe

        Broken spokes, wheel out of true, bad chain links, ripped tire bead, loose bottom bracket, bent crank arm and rusty shifting wires..."This won't cost me more than forty bucks, will it?"...Welcome to my morning at ye olde bicycle shoppe. I charge $45. for a general tune-up, which includes cleaning, lubricating and adjusting of gears, brakes, cones, tire pressures and general are extra. This fee is twenty-five percent lower than most of my competition within a seventy mile radius of Chester.
        I pass on dozens of free bikes every year (and have done so for the last twenty years), these would be still-operable bicycles that are dropped off at Bodfish Bicycles by folks who are leaving the area permanently (some people will do anything to avoid the twelve dollar fee charged at the waste transfer site for unwanted bikes). I want as many people on bicycles as possible in Northeastern California, a region better known for teenagers (and "manly men") in lifted four-wheel-drive over-powered pick-up trucks and Humvees.
         It's not impossible, but it is difficult (and awkward) to mount a gun rack on a pedal-bike. A very large county with less than twenty thousand citizens, Plumas is hilly and many of the highways are narrow and heavy with logging trucks and other eighteen wheelers. Some day I believe the "meek" shall inherit the country lanes of America (you know, those on bicycles, motorcycles and in small electric cars).... when a gallon of diesel costs fourteen dollars and restaurants are selling their spent cooking oil for ten bucks a gallon.
        Everybody wants a break when it comes to getting their bicycles back on the road, and I want them to get a break, but when they come in to me with a malfunctioning $200 "big box"purchased bicycle and want me to perform miracles for forty dollars...I just have to shake my head and send them away. Making a "living" at a small rural bicycle repair shop is not possible in this second decade of the 21st century... without a certain percentage of my visitors pulling out their checkbooks (or credit cards) to commit to one of the brand new bicycles that I've gambled on, in hopes that someone in my realm  is willing to straddle, fall in love with and purchase... The goodwill that I've built by orchestrating a steady, consistent and honest business provides the momentum that keeps us afloat, but believe me, no one is getting rich here by showing up on Main Street every day.