“Dad! You’re just crazy—and weird!”
Well, it wasn't exactly the endorsement I expected from the daughter I love.
She called just after 9PM thinking, finally—finally!—she would be able to catch me when I didn't answer my cell phone from my bike with the wind noise louder than my voice.
But she was wrong. I had just hung the halogen head light on my bike and pushed it out the front door for a short ride.
The temperature finally dropped below 70 degrees. Tomorrow's forecast is for rain—all day. With the near full moon rising in the east and the red lights gleaming on the radio towers to the west, stars in the sky, and quiet, empty roads, I couldn't think of a better time for a ride.
So, April asked a quick question and left her crazy, weird dad to his ride.
It was a beautiful ride. Quiet. I rode to the top of Belle Vista where I could see the city lights below me in the valley, and even over the ridge, downtown. I met only a handful of cars and they gave me plenty of room.
There was a little breeze and the only sound was its passing through the
trees. A half mile from home a deer trotted across the road in front of me
and I could hear the
ting its rear hooves made strumming the wire fence it
lept in the dark.
The only bad ride is the ride you don't take. Tonight's short ride in the dark was—perfect.
With all the news about car vs. bike violence, it's easy to forget the simple but great moments that don't warrant news coverage.
On our Wednesday night group ride from the local bike shop this week we experienced a moment of pure serendipity that couldn't have been choreographed better.
Our group of fifteen was headed out for a ride on lightly traveled, rural roads. We reached a three-way intersection where the roads meet at equal angles like a three spoked wheel. At exactly the same moment we made a right turn, another group of ten to fifteen cyclists, coming in on the third spoke of that wheel began making a left onto the same road as us.
The two groups merged together like two halves of a zipper. We shared the same route for four or five miles before diverging, again, enjoying conversation and camaraderie.
The view of cycling through sunglasses, with your hands on the handlebars, is certainly much better than the view through reading glasses, newspaper in hand.
Your LBS is important
Too often, I think people discount the importance of their Local Bike Shop (LBS). They shop the LBS for a bike, then buy it online because they can save a few bucks. But they fail to consider the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
I have an excellent relationship with my LBS and it has saved me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. More importantly, it has saved me time, frustration, and effort.
When I ride into my LBS with any minor problem, it doesn't seem to matter how busy they are—they put my bike in the stand and take care of the problem while I wait. If I need a part that isn't in stock, they rifle through their scrap parts to find something slightly less broken or worn to loan me until the new part arrives. Failing that, they send me home on a demo bike. They never leave me stranded.
I do a lot of my own bicycle maintenance. When I have trouble diagnosing a problem or need some pointers on how to tackle some new task I'm not familiar with, they give me the straight scoop, free of charge.
When I have a friend or family member visiting and want to take them out for a two-wheeled adventure, the LBS sets them up with a top end demo bike.
They invite me on their group rides. They, many of them ex-pros or highly ranked amateurs, give me riding tips, share their favorite routes and trails, and offer encouragement and advice.
When I buy clothing and accessories, I get a discount.
When I have a warranty problem, they exchange the item across the counter and I don't have to hassle with shipping time or dealing with the manufacturer.
I'm sure not everyone who buys a bike at his LBS gets the same treatment I've just described. The level of service I've obtained is the result of a long relationship with the bike shop and the people that work there. I reciprocate as best I can.
I recommend my LBS to anyone who asks about bikes. I invite others to join their group rides. When I see another cyclist with a mechanical problem or changing a flat, I stop and assist. Often, that means using my own spare tube. When they offer me cash or ask how to get in touch with me later to replace the tube, I just tell them to stop by my LBS, purchase a tube and leave it in will-call for me.
I drop off a six-pack of beer once in awhile.
My LBS is so important to me that whenever I purchase a new bike, regardless of what the latest hot trend is, I buy what they carry. My LBS is a Specialized dealer. When I buy, I buy Specialized, or one of the other brands they carry. If my LBS was a Trek dealer, I'd buy Trek.
I've certainly heard the argument that the premium for buying at your LBS is worth it, for many of the reasons I've laid out, here. But in my experience, there is no premium. I'm getting a better deal, overall, than I would if I purchased online. In addition to the cash savings, I'm getting much more that simply isn't available any other way.
If you don't already have it, you need the same relationship with your LBS I have with mine.
This site is the personal weblog of Marc Mims. You can contact Marc
by sending e-mail to:
Marc writes here about cycling, programming, Linux, and other items of personal interest.
This site is syndicated with RSS.
CSS stolen from Tom Coates who didn't even complain.