Your Pedal Bicyclical – The Joy Edition

Gracious! What a positively magnificent summer. I write this on my back porch after today’s Kal-Tour, a beautiful ride through the county sponsored by the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. A buddy of mine and I hooked up with other friends for a brisk (cough) ride with a little rain, a little sun, a little wind and a little heat: the Full Michigan. June was a wonderful month to be on a bike, and I have high hopes for July.

Around the Shop

Garmin has upped the high-end computer ante with its new Edge 1000, which offers maps, routes and connectivity to your smart phone. Cheap? No. Feature-rich? You bet. Check it out.

Our Scott rep is going to bring a few sweet bikes to Fort Custer for Mountain Bike Monday on the 30th (that’s tomorrow if this goes out on time). It’s not the full demo experience, but it is a good chance to maybe try something new if you’re interested. 5:45 at the trailhead.

Our clever friends at Swiftwick are having a nifty July promotion: Tour de Fours. Buy three four-inch-cuff socks and get a fourth for the impossibly low price of free. Woah.

Man, our shop rides have exploded this summer. I know it wears people out when I go into Full Preacher Mode before the ride and talk about good manners and ambassadorship and legal stuff and just on and on. I’d like to take just a quick moment to thank everyone for putting a nice face on group road riding. Thank you.

We’re working our tails off to keep service wait times as short as possible.

Fun Things to Do

Mountain Bike Monday

Shop Rides

Lots of weekly area group rides

It’s my perception that many folks will be traveling for the extended Independence Day weekend, so we’re not planning to ride on the 3rd. My apologies if this bums you out.

Racin’ racin’ racin’ in Kalamazoo the weekend of July 12th and 13th. The 12th is the Miller Energy BTR Crit here in town and the 13th is the Race for Wishes in (you guessed it) Lawton.

July 19th is the Holland Hundred, which ALWAYS gets a rave review.

Lots of bike rides here and lots of triathlon here.

Our friends at the Dream Center have their Kalamazoo Dream Ride on August 9th. This is a big fund raiser for an organization that helps the very needy in our community. Please give it a look and your consideration.

Big Finish

Joy is the emotion we hear expressed most around the shop. The brutal winter is still pretty vivid in most folks’ minds and almost everyone is just as happy as can be to experience this beautiful summer. What fun! On the shop ride last week I rode by the location of this incident and couldn’t stop laughing.

Viva summer and thanks to you, PEDAL customer!

Sincerely,
Tim

Slowing!

Last week the men from SRAM showed up at the shop to wow us with some of their new wares. And wowed we were.

First up was the new RS-1, RockShox new “upside down” fork. As a former motorcycle guy, I’ve often wondered why high-end bicycle suspension forks look like old technology motorcycle suspension forks. I’m sure it has to do with varying priorities on weight, rigidity and performance. Here’s a thing you may or may not know: each leg of a motorcycle fork contains both spring and damping functions, so both legs are pretty much doing the same thing. On a bicycle suspension fork, one leg typically has the spring function and the other takes care of the damping.

RS1

While inverted forks feature less unsprung weight (that is, the weight of all parts of the machine not suspended), on a bike such a fork would require a very strong connection between the two fork legs. Rockshoxs says that this has been a real challenge — a challenge answered by the RS-1 and its integrated hub and new thru axle.

Holding the RS-1, I can attest to its light weight. The hub is very nifty with very wide flanges and a thru-axle that seems miles better than the maxle lite on my SID. All of this said, it’s an expensive little mess ($1865!), so I don’t know that I’ll be trying it soon.

The other part up for discussion involved Guide brakes, which supersede the Elixir brakes we’ve all known and partially loved for the past several years. Gone is the taperbore technology, which had a lot to do with the way Elixirs grabbed “right now,” with no large dead band. Guides go back to a more traditional master cylinder + reservoir setup, but employ new methods to close off the reservoir port quickly to eliminate the dead spot. On the RSC (which stands for Reach Adjust, Swing Link, Contact Adjust), the technology is swing link, essentially a cam that initially moves the master cylinder very quickly, then slows to allow greater modulation. Pretty sweet. Reach Adjust is, to this guy, something that’s pretty much part and parcel of any decent hydraulic brake, but thanks for including it. Contact Adjust allows you to easily get both brake levers to “hit” in the same spot.

GuideBox

One thing anyone will quickly notice about the Guides is the new rotor look. SRAM was apparently sick and tired of people complaining about the noise of their brakes (sounds like Thanksgiving!) and hired some sort of sonic witch doctor (an audiologist?) to work on the issue. Thus: bold new look.

GuideRotor

And then, much to my surprise, the brakes were installed on my Explosif, and I was asked to try them out. Can you guess what I’ve been doing today (hint: trying out brakes)?

Before the Guides, I had Magura MT6 brakes on the bike. It took me a little while to perfect the setup, largely due to the fact that I’d gone Full Cheap and tried to use the brakes with old Avid rotors that I’d had for a while. Once I got Magura rotors, pads and brakes, the system worked beautifully. I was quite pleased.

One thing that has nothing to do with braking that I liked immediately was the integration between the Guides and my shifter. While not awful, I never thought that the Magura brakes and SRAM shifters fit all that well together. Such was not the case with the Guides. The brakes and shifter looked and worked perfectly together.

MaguraRight

The old setup.

Bold new look.

Bold new look.

The first thing I noticed when riding the bike around the parking lot is how hard they hit, which I somewhat consider an Avid trait. Touch the lever: engage the brakes. Just like that. The second thing I noticed was the silence, no noise at all, almost eerie.

Before we hit the trail today I showed my buddy the new setup. His response: “You’re going over the bars.” Not at all. I was immediately comfortable and confident with the Guides. They come on very quickly, but then are very progressive and easy to modulate. One-finger braking all the way. Quiet? Oh, very. How do they stack up to the Maguras? I’d say the performance is equal, with maybe a nod to the quick bite of the Guides. The Maguras weigh less — 310 g vs. 375 g. each — but the Guides are more nicely integrated (with my SRAM stuff). One thing perhaps worth mentioning is that SRAM/Avid brakes are pretty ubiquitous in bike shops across this great land. Odds are you can get parts pretty easily. Magura, while gaining ground, is more of an odd duck, with the odds of in-stock parts and pads significantly lower.

RotorInstalled

Lastly: price. A Guide RSC will set you back $200 at each end, a long way from cheap, but not as hard to digest as (cough) $270 for the MT6. Anybody paying the least bit of attention knows that SRAM/Avid brakes have taken a few shots lately, so I didn’t really consider them when I built this bike. Still, my first ride on the Guides was great, and I look forward to having them on the bike for a long time to come.

Your Pedal Bicyclical – Warm at Last

Hello!
Over the most glorious Memorial Day I can remember in some time, I heard someone around me — maybe even someone I didn’t know — say, “Yeah. That winter was horrible, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy about summer.” Too true. And so it is that I find myself finishing the Bicyclical on my back porch on a fantastic late Spring evening.

Fun Things to Do

One day I looked up and found a poster in the shop door advertising Mountain Bike 101, put on by our own Southwest Michigan Mountain Bike Association. If you’re curious about this super-fun cycling genre, this looks like a great way to start. June 8th (that’s this Sunday) from 11-1 at the Al Sabo land preserve. Register here.

I’ve been talking about it for months, but June is time for Tour de Taylor. Grab your bike, your friends and go for a very nice supported bike ride. All proceeds benefit the Michigan Make a Wish Foundation.

An oldie but a goodie, the Kal Tour, unleashes 100 miles of hillier ride than you might have believed possible in this glacier-scraped area. Well-supported and always popular, Kal-Tour is a great way to spend a Sunday with friends new and old. Sunday June 29th. Note: many (more sane) options other than 100 miles.

The weekend of July 12th and 13th brings us the Miller Energy BTR Crit and the Lawton Race for Wishes. Get your road bike racing on!

And there’s the Dream Ride on August 9th. Good, good stuff.

Around the Shop

Our theme this month is that you can take it with you… to a point;

  • Our cool Scandinavian friends at Thule have created some really cool bike accessories, very interesting racks, clever bags and gizmos you might not have imagined. We have a few in the shop and they’ve been very well received.
  • Touring tough? You want gear tough enough for your long-haul tour? We’ve got you covered with very nice things from Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Ortlieb. Waterproof, well-considered handlebar bags and panniers for your rack. This super nice equipment will get your stuff to your destination safe, sound and dry. Nice.
  • I well remember when my family went from a big car to something smaller, and we bought a box top gizmo to make up the difference. What a revelation! For a fraction of the price difference between a large and smaller car we darn near made up the cargo capacity. If you’re planning a big road trip this summer and are worried about your ability to carry it all, please give us a holler.

Rides, rides, rides. Mountain Bike Monday continues. 5:00 at the shop or 5:45 at the Fort Custer trailhead. Experience bona fide Michigan mosquitoes and poison ivy just minutes from your home! Seriously, many folks abandon the trails in the warm months due to fear of itch. I understand. However, there’s nothing like being up close and personal with the lush countryside on a bike. It’s very beautiful. Bonus: nature. We saw five (5!) snapping turtles laying eggs last time out.

Shop rides are Thursday at 6:15 from, you guessed it, the shop.

Ramble

Speaking of rides, did you notice that our very own Kalamazoo Bicycle Club won an award from the League of Michigan Bicyclists for Bike Camp? Did you notice that our very own Paul Selden won the Advocate of the Year award for his work with Bike Friendly Kalamazoo? These awards are terrific things, signs that two-wheeled life is alive and well in our lovely community. And I’m happy that Bike Camp and Paul received the recognition they deserve and happy that they’re ours, yours and mine. We’re fortunate to live among these powerful advocates for cycling.

How can we — those of us with limited time and resources and connections and whatever — contribute vastly to the cause of Riding A Bike? By being a good ambassador for cycling. By signaling our intentions. By not riding more than two abreast. By obeying the law. By sharing the road. Almost every cyclist can tell a harrowing story about a bad experience with a car, but many drivers can share stories of entitled behavior on the part of someone riding a bike, stories that are poison to the broader acceptance of cycling. And (I think) the broader acceptance of cycling is required to make it easier/safer/better to ride to work, ride with our kids, ride for fitness and run errands on a bike.

So: I wish you a wonderful summer. I hope you achieve the cycling-related goals you’ve set for yourself. And I hope that all of us can represent the joy of cycling to our greater community.

Big Finish

We’re here to help, and we sincerely, strongly appreciate our wonderful customers.

Sincerely,
Tim

Friend Team

Not very long ago a really cool customer asked about our race team. “Do you guys have tryouts or need a resume or anything?” While we’re thrilled that someone might think our results could indicate that such might be the case, it isn’t. What we have is a concept that we call the Friend Team.

I think this all started our first summer when a bunch of us decided to do the Lawton road race. We all wore Pedal jerseys because it seemed fun and we thought we looked cool and organized. In truth, we were as unorganized as about anything I’ve ever seen. But it was a laugh and we all had a cold one and some food at the Old Hat (oh, how I miss thee) when it was done.

Why not a bona-fide race team? Our logic, twisted though it may be, works something like this: we’re a shop for everyone. While we’re pleased when someone wins while wearing a Pedal jersey, we also smile when we see a family pedaling around town on our bikes. I guess it comes down to two things:

  • We feel like a team by its very nature is exclusionary. Are you on the team? Did you make the team? No. That ain’t us. You’ve got a bike and you want to race and you want someone to hang out with? We’re your people. Look for us in the beer tent.
  • While we don’t want to be exclusionary, we would like to exclude assholes. I’m not sure that those folks enjoy hanging out with us anyway.

We’re all about community. We have some friends who are smoking fast. We have friends who aren’t. Our fast friends are friends with our not as fast friends. We’d like to introduce you to our friends. We’d like to hang out. We’ll cheer for you or heckle you as the situation merits. Do you have to wear a Pedal jersey? No, but it would help us pick you out. Can you wear a jersey from another shop and still be on the friend team? Sure, I guess, as long as you’re willing to buy the beer. ALL the beer. Heh.

Your Bicyclical – It’s Happening

Holy crud bucket! Can you believe it’s May, the fifth month of the year? Me neither. And look at me: late with the newsletter. Stuff is happening.

Please allow me to say this first and foremost: Way to go Ryan. 19 credit hours and a full time job is a hard way to finish up college, but the deal is done and we’re just as happy and proud as can be. Nice work.

My wife just said, ‘You should say something in that thing of yours about how much women’s clothing you have.” Her wish is my command.

We have a wonderful customer who’s been asking me to stock Swiftwick socks for longer than I would like to admit. Turns out that all I needed to do was try a pair and, lo, we started stocking them shortly thereafter. Fancy cuffs with cool designs aren’t really Swiftwick’s thing. Instead they make super comfortable, supportive socks. Check ‘em out!

Just today we inked a deal to sell Sarma carbon fat bikes, rims and forks. Why? Fat bikes are exploding. While we are totally happy with Kona and 616, there definitely is a place in Kalamazoo for carbon fat bikes. So that’s the bikes. The neat-o carbon rims and forks allow us to zestify (new word, look for it in the 2015 OED) your existent fat bike for less than a grocery bag of dollars. We have wheels and forks now, with bikes and frames expected before Labor Day.

A few shop folk and several friends raced (term used loosely in some cases) the Ft. Custer Stampede mountain bike race last Sunday, which is *the* major fundraiser for our local mountain bike chapter, SWMMBA. I could write lots of words about the wonder of riding in the woods. I could write about the fun of adding an element of adrenaline (or fear or something) to the already nifty sport of cycling. We’re very lucky to have the trails at Fort Custer in our back yard, but I’ll tell you this: those trails didn’t build themselves. If you have a mountain bike or want to mountain bike or maybe even build trails on the odd Saturday, I very much encourage you to join the Southwest Michigan Mountain Bike Association. They’re good folks doing good work and could use your support.

Speaking of riding mountain bikes, Mountain Bike Monday is happening. All are welcome. The last three Mondays have been terrific.

Shop rides. Get your shop rides here. Actually, get a pile of road riding here.

What would May be without Kalamazoo Bike Week? Less awesome. Cool things to note are:

  • The Trail Blazer is this Saturday the 10th. Some years ago the TB was my first century, and I have fond memories of the event. It’s a good event benefitting the Kal-Haven Trail.
  • Also on Saturday is the Mayors’ City to City Ride. Join Mayors Hopewell and Strazdas at 9:00 at the Portage Creek Bicentennial Park. Yeah, mayors on bikes. Spring is happening.
  • More? You need more on Saturday? How about the Spring into Summer Family Bike Fest at Mayors Riverfront Park at 10:00.
  • Ward off evil at the Blessing of the Bikes at 10:30 at the Climax/Scotts Jr./Sr. High School, sponsored by the Climax United Methodist Church.
  • The Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival featuring short movies on May 13 at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. Shows are at 6:00 for all ages and 8:15 for those over 21. Admission is a paltry five clams.
  • Our community Ride of Silence takes place on Wednesday, May 14th. The Ride of Silence honors those cyclists who have been injured or killed, raises awareness and asks that we all share the road. Good stuff.
  • Lots of cool stuff including the Bells to Bells ride on Saturday the 17th can be found on the Kalamazoo Bike Week web site.

Look at all this fun stuff. Three years ago there were relatively few activities during Bike Week. Now: lots. I think this is nothing but terrific.

Speaking of advocacy, our state Advocacy Day is in Lansing on May 21st, and you can read all of the detail on LMB’s very informative web site. I did something incredibly similar to this on a national level in March, and was really impressed.

I know what you want. Fun things to do.

“They” changed the date of the Yankee Springs Time Trial at almost exactly the moment last month’s Bicyclical hit the presses. It’s now May 18th and would be a perfect way to wind down (hah!) from Bike Week. Srsly: whip out that mountain bike and (ahem) redeem yourself from that Stampede fiasco.

Bike Camp starts on May 14th. Think you might like to road ride but are nervous about the whole thing? Bike Camp is opportunity knocking. Hear that? It’s opportunity.

If Tour de Taylor were an indie rock band I would own all their albums (which begs the question, how much does usage of the word album date a person? I suspect the answer is: significantly). Anywho, TdT is June 14th.

Kal Tour is June 29th and is a heckuva local thing. There are routes of 13, 15, 31, 62 and 100 miles. We’ve been kicking it around the shop and think it would be fun for all of us to ride bikes together. More details next month, but slap an X on June 29th to save the date. One note: register before June 15th for the good deal.

The weekend of July 12th and 13th is a monster. The Miller Energy BTR Crit happens on Saturday and the Race for Wishes in Lawton occurs on Sunday. Good fun all around.

I love riding bikes. I love bicycling machines. But, as I told my buddy recently, I really love being a part of the Kalamazoo bicycling community. Part of being from Kalamazoo, in my opinion, means that we acknowledge the fantastic philanthropic tradition of our community. Another part is acknowledging that there are many — too many — poor among Kalamazoo’s citizens. The Kalamazoo Dream Center exists to help the truly needy among Kalamazoo’s population, and they have a bike ride to help them raise funds toward that end. The Kalamazoo Dream Ride takes place on August 9th. I’ll tell you right now that it’s not your typical $20 century. It’s a ride to benefit a mission. If that sounds like the kind of thing that you can get behind, please do so. I’m not in the business of vetting nonprofit organizations, but I like the people I’ve met from this place.

Big Finish

As mentioned earlier, the cycling season is happening, and I’d like to get out of the way and allow you to enjoy it. If we can help, say the word. Otherwise I wish you many fun, untroubled miles.

Sincerely,
Tim

Explosif Revisited

ExplosifLately

I’ve had the new bike for a while and thought I’d share some thoughts and experiences.

 Fork: I bought the SID largely because I was trying to build a light bike. It took me a while to get the thing dialed, and I have come to believe that RockShox’s air recommendations are a tad on the high side and that this particular shock came with too much compression damping. I’ve rectified both of these issues and am very, very happy with this item.

Drivetrain: XX1= Blammo. I’ll confess that I had some reservations about this move as I’d been very happy with my former Shimano stuff, but XX1 has far exceeded my expectations. It works perfectly. My only complaint might be that it’s a bit pricey, a complaint that appears to have been addressed with X01.

Brakes: I did the Magura thing largely just to try something new. I was happy with the Avid brakes on my previous mountain bike and have been very impressed with Shimano’s latest stuff. Instead of going with equipment that I knew would work, I tried Magura’s MT6 setup… and there were issues, some of which were setup issues (don’t cheap out and try to use your old Avid rotors; the Magura rotors are thicker and work better) and some of which were process issues (learning to get them bled correctly). Somewhere along the line I contaminated the pads, either from the old rotors or a bleeding mishap. I installed new pads and bed them in the night before a race and BANG! Everything clicked, and the brakes worked marvelously. Like really freaking good. I confess that there were dark moments when I thought about chucking this system and bolting on some SLX brakes, but I’m now very satisfied and can recommend Magura brakes with confidence. Looking for something really light and maybe a tad off the beaten path? Here you go.

Wheels/Tires: I’ve had this setup for a while, so nothing shocking here. Stan’s are probably the best deal in tubeless wheels and Schwalbe makes mighty fine tubeless ready tires. I remain very satisfied.

The Whole Package: I’m not the best setup artist on my own stuff. I tend to go out and ride with my friends, think about what I might change, do nothing, go ride with my friends again and think about the same changes. This time I actually took a shock pump and an assortment of stems on a ride or two and slowly got the bike where I wanted.

As I ride more and more bikes I have a greater feeling for what feels right and what does not. However, I lack the technical chops to articulate what it is about one bike that makes it feel better or worse than another. I also think my thoughts should be taken in context — I’m not a gifted mountain biker. When I first rode a stock steel Explosif outside of Bellingham last year, I thought, “This is the most confident I’ve ever felt on a mountain bike.” That same feeling is strong when I ride this bike. Confident and frisky. Those are the two words I’d use to describe this bike.

It’s a keeper.

Mountain Bike Monday

VanOBikes

Some while ago — last summer? summer before last? — Our Gal Kim started getting a few friends together to hit the area trails on Monday evenings. Sometimes ten people would show, sometimes three. You could go as fast or not as you wished and it was consistently a really great time.

I asked Kim if Pedal could co-opt Mountain Bike Monday, and she said that it was cool with her, provided that mountain bikes were ridden on Mondays. So we’ll start tomorrow, April 21st. You can meet at the shop at 5:00 (sharp! no one likes to wait) for car pool opportunities or be ready to ride at 5:45 at the Fort Custer trailhead.

What is this like? It’s not terribly structured and is a work in process. It’s for anyone who wants to come, beginner to expert. It’s not a race. It’s not a skills clinic. It’s friends and acquaintances riding mountain bikes together. If this sounds fun, you are more than welcome. If it doesn’t, you’re still welcome.

I’ll update this post when and if things change, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

A Barry Nice Day

A good friend is hard to find.

A good friend is hard to find.

Immediately after yesterday’s Barry Roubaix race many of our friends were clustered at the end of the finish chute, coughing, having used parts of our lungs that hadn’t seen much action in a while. “There’s no way a big effort like this is good for your body,” opined one guy. “It’s not,” said another, who then provided science to buttress his argument. After we’d put on dry warm clothes the conversation continued in the beer tent.

This body isn’t what it once was (and it was never all that much), but it seems like a good idea to test the system every now and then. Whether or not it’s good for my body, I know stuff like this is good for my soul. I feel so darn good after a race like this. Why?

  • One reason is the big effort itself. It feels good to take on a project, do the work, finish the darn thing AND receive immediate feedback. In this hyper-efficient global economy it’s tough to find this sort of immediacy in work and social life. I’ve wondered if this isn’t part of the reason for the recent popularity of sport.
  • Competition is good, and by competition I mean the process of figuring out how good we can be, for which we need a course, competitors and a clock. Lemme say this differently: a course, some competitors and a clock allow me to determine how well I can do. In the act of competing I’m forced to acknowledge my shortcomings and deal with them. I know I’m not going to win, but I do wonder what my best might be.
  • I feel a wonderful bond with my competitors on the course. Yes, OK, I would like to finish ahead of you, but I also want you to finish better than you thought. I want you to make me earn it, and I want you to earn it.
  • A big race empties me. Assuming I can get myself psyched up to perform, there typically isn’t an iota of energy or emotion left in my body when the race is done. I feel very pure, as though I’ve sweated and exhaled all of the bad stuff out of my body.
  • What goes into this empty vessel? The companionship and love and camaraderie of my friends and competitors in the beer tent. An hour after the race I am a new man, stripped clean of my stresses and filled only with good feelings.

These are my ruminations. I might be right. I might be as wrong as I’ve ever been. Regardless, I’m still basking in the warm glow that follows a good, hard race. I tip my hat to the Barry-Roubaix crew for providing me the opportunity to feel the feeling.

Pedal goes Political

Over the past three years, I’ve almost become used to the extent that bike shop owners are hit up to be part of many different things. There are industry conferences, trade shows of all stripe, this, that and the other. Until recently, I’ve been too busy and Pedal has been too lean-staffed for me to consider many forays into the wild.

A few weeks ago I submitted a scholarship application to attend the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, provided by the NBDA. The Summit is presented by The League (which is how the League of American Bicyclists was known throughout this summit) and consists of two main parts, learning more about cycling advocacy in various discussions and then actually advocating by lobbying your state’s elected federal officials with other interested parties from your state. I was awarded the scholarship largely, I think, on the strength of my answer to “What else should we know about you?” — I look really good in a suit. A photo submission was not required.

Why go? Bicycling has been good to me physically, mentally and financially, though my wife might argue the last point. I would like bicycling to continue its upward trajectory in the  consciousnesses of both my community and my country. Though important work on behalf of bicycling exists here at home, I thought that it might make good long-term sense to broaden my experience in the wide world of advocacy. So I bought a plane ticket, made hotel reservations, attended two preparatory webinars and transported myself to our nation’s capital.

I’m not sure why this surprised me, but the percentage of bike shop folk was rather small. Most folks were “advocates,” and there are all kinds of advocates. I met a lady from Tulsa who runs a place not terribly dissimilar to our own Open Roads. I met a lady from Minnesota who arranges multi-day supported bike rides with a built-in evening lecture series. I met the database czar of People for Bikes. I met bona-fide lobbyists. Within the Michigan delegation there were two shop owners and eight advocates who were there to talk about bicycling in general and perhaps a personal cycling-related project in particular.

Monday was a day of travel. Monday was also the day that a good amount of snow fell on Washington D.C., a city not completely prepared to deal with such an event. Compared to many, mine was not a grueling journey, but it did present opportunities for resourceful thinking and problem solving.

Tuesday was a day of learning in big meetings with famous politicians and advocates and in smaller break-out sessions. Snippets…

  • It’s not enough to get the mayor’s support. You must also have support from a “champion in the weeds,” a person in government who can do the mayor’s heavy lifting.
  • It’s crucial to gather metrics for your advocacy projects, especially if government funding is part of the financing picture.
  • I tend to think of cycling as an important component of our community to attract talented young people which will make companies want to locate here which will fuel the area’s economic engine. That said, society’s dispossessed probably need safe bicycle transportation more than a guy like me who owns a car.
  • If we are going to be successful in our advocacy, we must stand together and not apart. I believe it was Oregon Representative Blumenthal who said that “One Less Car” is not an effective slogan. We need to be pro-bike, not anti-anything.
  • Pittsburgh’s Mayor Peduto spoke about the need to build partnerships in advocacy and that a welcoming and open stance is much more effective than one of confrontation or pugnaciousness.
  • Good work is never wasted.

Wednesday began early; our first meeting was with Senator Debbie Stabenow at 8:00. We talked with some of her staff folk for a bit, then the senator appeared and spoke with us for what seemed like a very long time for such a very busy person. What can I say about Ms. Stabenow? Impressive.

On the way to our meeting with Senator Levin, we passed him walking the opposite direction with a bunch of well-dressed people to ostensibly attend a more important meeting. We met with his assistant Alison, a beautiful no-nonsense lady who (to me) looks like she does not take any shit and is probably quite a bit smarter than you (and by you I mean me). Alison was a gracious host and incredibly informed and exactly what you might expect a federal staff person to be like based on all the TV and cinema you’ve seen.

In the afternoon a quartet of us met with our own Fred Upton (“I go by Fred”) and his assistant, Nick. This was my favorite time of the day, not just because I like Fred but because I got to sit down with Nick, a Paw Paw native and K College graduate, and go over the three League asks in some detail and in my own circuitous way.

The three asks were: Safe Streets, The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act and New Opportunities. Want more detail? They’re House Resolutions 2468, 3494 and 3978, respectively.

While I very, very much enjoyed participating in our federal government, I don’t think I’m a good lobbyist. Two or three of the folks in our contingent had their sound bites polished and assertively (aggressively?) controlled the conversation. I just can’t do that. What would Mom say if I didn’t take time to mind my manners before digging into business?

Many times were we reminded that our dress on Wednesday needed to bridge the line between fashion and comfort as we’d be doing a LOT of walking and standing around. Did I heed this advice? No. I wrote that I looked good in a suit, so I brought out the Johnston-Murphy wingtips that have occupied space in my closet since I was a cubicle denizen and shined those suckers to a mirror finish. And those traitorous shoes absolutely destroyed me. I have a blister the size of neptune to attest to the fact that advocacy is hard work.

Your Pedal Bicyclical – The Anticipation Edition

Hello!

I once worked for a company that provided lunch for its employees. After a really tasty meal, one of my coworkers would often say, “Enough is never enough, but too much is too much!” Such are my feelings about the current season. Yesterday as I was putting on my long johns, I thought about a hot summer day in which the sun comes up early and I steal a ride before work. After the ride I hustle to take a shower but it’s So Stinking Hot and Humid that I can’t cool off before heading to the shop. This day will be here soon enough. And someone will complain about it. Heh.

I’ve been singing the praises of 650b/27.5″ mountain bikes for a few years now, and it looks like 2014 might be a breakout year, largely because one of the Big Guys (ok, it’s Giant) threw their hat in the ring. We’re fortunate that our brands were early adopters — Jamis has been making 650b for five years, Scott’s won two cross country world championships on 650b hard tails and Kona’s been doing their thing for a couple of years now. Neat stuff, proven designs and pretty darn exciting.

One of the recent trends in cycling that I like quite a lot is the movement toward not-skin-tight clothing. We started carrying baggy mountain bike shorts last year, and I’m a huge fan. I like being able to pop my car keys in a zippered pocket and I LOVE the fact that mosquitos have yet to pierce my baggy shorts — unlike thin lycra. This spring and summer will also see us experimenting with jerseys that look more like a shirt yet behave like a proper jersey made from performance material. Functonal? Yes. Stylish? I think so. Come see!

A hot topic around the shop these days is “What in the heck kinda tires are we going to use for Melting Mann and perhaps even Barry Roubaix?” Weather and road conditions being what they are lately, I’m going to say that studded looks like a good choice, despite the greater weight and rolling resistance. “What?” you say, “Those things are really expensive!” While they’re not dirt cheap, I think it’s fair to expect several years of use from a pair of studded tires. Plus fewer falls.

I recently wrote a long piece about dressing for cold weather that I thought would be great for next year, but maybe now is OK too.

The more things change, the more they change. We have several new faces around the shop. Charlie, Matt, Violet and Kira all work at Pedal part time while matriculating at various local institutions. They’re all super-nice and are acclimating to Pedal. I hope you’ll welcome them to our little world.

Over the past three years I’d like to think that we’ve built our business on service, particularly prompt, professional service for your bikes. It’s always our goal — and very often our realized goal — to get your bike done in a week during the busy season. I’ll be honest and say that this year’s longer, colder winter has me a bit spooked. I fear that there’s a glut of repair work sitting in garages and basements around town that’ll suddenly arrive at our door on the first warm day of the year and that it’ll take us a fair amount of time to work through that gob of labor. You, the people who receive this missive, are our customers. You’re the lovely people who’ve secured our success. If you know your bike needs a little attention, I really, really encourage you to get that sweet thing down to us before the hoards arrive. Thanks in advance.

One of my favorite programs from the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club is Bike Camp, a wonderful introduction (or perhaps reintroduction if you’ve been away from the sport for a while) to road cycling. If you are or know someone who might benefit from such a thing, I very much encourage you to check out http://kalamazoobicycleclub.org/club/bikeCamp.php It all starts on May 13th, so you’ve got a little time yet.

Fun Things to Do:

As always and with great sincerity PEDAL thanks you for being our customer. Please let me know how we can better serve you.
Sincerely,
Tim