Saturday, September 28, 2019

How Could I Have Been So Wrong?

        I just don't get it. Forty-five years ago I figured out that bicycles and bicycling is good for you...the healthiest and most efficient form of locomotion ever invented. Simple and beautiful and increases your awareness of the world around you like nothing else. When cycling is performed and practiced on a regular basis it keeps you young, supple and smiling. It's easier on your feet, your knees, your back and your pocketbook than any other activity that you attempt in the out-of-doors.
        So, why doesn't everyone I know and especially the ones I love, partake in bicycling? "It's too hard"...doesn't have to be. "It's too dangerous"...don't ride where it's dangerous. "It's too expensive"...doesn't cost as much as most of your bad habits or mindless entertainments. Spend $500 on a new bicycle and you are likely to use it for twenty years with inner tubes and chain lube as your only expenses. "It's too much work" yet, they realize that doing work leads to rewards...some that you expect and others that surprise you.
        I really thought that bicycles and cycling would be an easy sell. Now that I've owned a bicycle shop for over twenty-five years I must's not always easy to convince the public that bicycle riding is a good idea. It appears to be so much easier to hop in your car to go to the grocery store, even though you spend as much as a fifth of your annual income keeping the car (or truck) fed, housed and operating reliably. I can't even sell my own family on the idea of regular cycling activity for the sake of health, the environment or extending their lives by a couple of years.
        How could I have been so wrong? I actually imagined that by the year 2020 America would be rivaling Denmark or The Netherlands for percentages of travelers choosing to ride bicycles to complete their errands. I imagined huge bicycle parking facilities in America's downtown spaces. As a teenager with a fertile imagination I was often called "a dreamer"...some things never change.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Back To The Rust Belt and My Working Class Roots

        We have remained "working class warriors". My wife and I worked our way through college. We labored at bakeries, breweries, dairies and in gardens and yards. We worked for Uncle Sam and we continue to pay Uncle Sam. I grew up in a "union family", in the "rust belt" where nearly everyone I knew worked in a factory or were destined for factory work. We paid into Social Security for decades and we want Social Security now that we are into our sixties.
        In a few days we are hopping on a train for a return to Michigan....legitimate hopping...Amtrak.  We'll be rolling through "fly-over" by coastal dwelling Americans. I signed up for this trip twice in the Spring but "fly-over " country was flooded throughout most of March.
        Now, two weeks later, the trip to Michigan was a wonderful success. It necessitated a three hour drive to the train station in Reno, a 48 hour train ride on the California Zephyr and a three hour bus trip from Chicago to Kalamazoo...and then a twenty minute car ride from one of my sisters at 3am to a bed where would could get horizontal for the first time in three days...we traveled as coach passengers on Amtrak saving us approximately $600. Like I said, we are working class people.
        We built our own house from scratch thirty years ago and we still labor to fix the problems that come with an aging abode. My mother, who bought the house we grew up in 60 years ago, has moved into an apartment in a "seniors complex" and I can report that she is doing very well in spite of being mostly blind, while now in her late 80's. She'll be leaving no inheritance to any of her six children. She just hopes to stretch her life savings long enough to cover the rest of her life.
       Our feet are planted firmly on the ground. We are exceedingly thankful for everything we have and the people we have left to hug. ..and hug we did.