Tuesday, April 29, 2008
We sent over forty people out on nearly sixty test rides in five hours. Everybody wanted to ride the Stumpjumper FSR Expert, in medium. With only one such bike, lots of folks got sent out, and came back beaming, on the "next-best-thing" Jamis Dakar XCR Pro. Everybody came back with a smile. I wish I had more pics, but I spent 99% of the time running around looking for our scarce pedal wrenches. And a big thanks to DCMTB for sending a legion of volunteers to help out... Shown here in a brief moment of repose:
Not sure when/where we'll do our next day out on the trails, but we definitely will. Check the newsletter, or our events page.
Monday, April 28, 2008
My favorite was the year (2001?) when the route took us over the Roosevelt Bridge to the GW Parkway, all closed to traffic, then all the way up the Parkway to the Langley hood, and back down. It was a gorgeous ride.
Which brings us to WABA's latest call to action. With the Parkway under renovation, WABA has been stumping for inclusion of a multi-use trail that extends the Mt. Vernon Trail north beyond Rosslyn, alongside the Parkway. How nice would that be? I'd love to be able to bike with my nephews up to the Claude Moore Colonial Farm, for instance. Their email below:
Support the Mt Vernon Trail Extension
For nearly two decades, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association has been working to extend the Mt Vernon Trail from its current northern terminus near Rosslyn Circle further north toward the American Legion Bridge. To date the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) division of the National Park Service has remained opposed to putting the trail through sensitive natural areas. New plans for the rehabilitation of the Parkway offer an opportunity to construct the trail as part of the roadway reconstruction, but the GWMP has failed to include any provisions for cyclists or pedestrians in their draft environmental assessment.
WABA urges you to contact GWMP Superintendent David Vela to urge him to include the Mt Vernon Trail extension as part of any rehabilitation of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Anyway, a week or so ago, we got a genuine Dutch city bike in stock, a Batavus Old Dutch.Pure style (ruined by my cluttered pic), with the upright position, step-through frame, and rear fender skirt.
Via Copenhagen Cycle Chic, here's the very same bike, doing what it does best.
We stocked Koga-Miyata a coupla years back, too, but no longer. We do still stock the floormat.
Bike people routinely get skewered for a lack of style, and quite rightly. A puritanical devotion to practicality and utility generally rules in our little world (there are exceptions). But one needn't throw the very stylish baby out with the impractical bathwater. Look at that chaincase, for instance. That front fender, with chromed center strip, and delicate dynamo, they just look right.This is a bit of a referendum bike. On paper, there are plenty of other bikes that are probably better values for 90% of the folks who walk in the door. But this one is unique, in so many ways. Stop by Adams Morgan to ogle, or perhaps purchase, so we can justify bringing in more.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
People really like the Surly Long Haul Trucker. So do we. All steel, super-pure touring bike, Subaru-ish aesthetics, eff-you brand, good price, even the name, "Long Haul Trucker," just talking about it makes me want one.
Problem is, they're a bit scarce. We have two small ones in at the moment, check back here for up-t0-datish info. We can also order them, for now. But next week/month? Dunno. And it does long-distance touring really well, but it's a bit overbuilt for many other more pedestrian tasks.
Some folks bemoan the lack of good steel road bikes to choose from, but just for giggles, let's have a look at the Jamis Aurora.
We'll start by describing what it's not. It's not a pure, cross-country (ahem) trucker. With bigger front rings, a shorter wheelbase, lower-rake fork, and higher bottom bracket, it won't handle as well when completely loaded down. It doesn't have the unique touring-tough spec of the LHT, in favor of all-around riding ease. The brand name doesn't describe the mood resulting from your existential crisis. And while I find it attractive, it's a different look.
But if your touring is more in the olde English manner, the Aurora still features a steel frame and fork, all the braze-ons necessary for racks front and rear, and nice wide gearing. And maybe you'd like to throw in some all-season commuting?No problem. And the adjustable stem might seem odd, but it helps this bike fulfill it's mission as a great all-rounder. Hike it up for touring or commuting....
....or lower it down for fast group rides (yes, slap on some skinnier tires, and it will do). Maybe even put some knobby tires on, and use it to give cyclocross a first try.
We've sold a few Auroras over the years, and it's always nice to see these rigs bouncing around the city, and on the roads and paths out yonder. It's even nicer to hear riders crow about them, as this recent customer of ours did ("a revelation").
Have a look at the Aurora Elite, too. The price bump gets you a high-quality 10-speed drivetrain, a higher grade of steel, and carbon fork (which still has mid-blade eyelets for front racks). Big Shawn is pretty sure this was the most frequently EP'd (employee direct purchase from the factory) bike in City Bikes history, back when it was still known as similarly-celestial Nova.
If you're planning to criss-cross the country, you'll be better served on the Long Haul Trucker. But the Auroras are 95% as good for more typical touring, and will also do all those other things at 95%, too.
‘I wanted to make sure we had a location big enough for my DCMTB/City Bikes teammates,’ Darren said.
18 members of DCMTB/City Bikes made the trip out to race in Leesburg in picture-perfect conditions.
‘The weather turned out to be amazing with bright sunshine in the morning followed by a nice breeze and some clouds to cool things off,’ said Kent Baake, a DCMTB/City Bikes racer and member of the 3-person Men’s class team Solar Ring Blingers.
‘We had no idea that the race would be as successful as it turned out to be,’ said Plum Grove Cyclery’s Rob Harrington, the Race Director for the event. ‘We’ve had incredible support from the race community and we are excited about 2009!’
With over 375 participants registered for the event, the Baker’s Dozen represents one of the largest mountain bike relay races in the DC region. For an event only in its second year, the success is a testament to the quality of the race organization and the course itself, an exciting combination of logs, rocks, drops and fast corners.
‘Our team had a great time out there and managed to secure third place behind our other 3-man entry,’ said Matt Donahue, DCMTB/City Bikes President. ‘There’s nothing better than racing with, and against, your friends.’
Members of DCMTB/City Bikes secured 1st in Women’s Solo, 2nd and 3rd in 3-person Men, 3rd in 3-person Open and fielded additional teams including the duo of brother’s Joe and 19-year-old JJ ‘Prince Harry’ Foley.
DCMTB/City Bikes is a grass-root team of urban mountain bikers. Since 1997 they’ve been ripping it up on the mid-Atlantic race scene! But they’re not just about riding and racing, over the years the team has put in hundreds of hours on behalf of bicycle advocacy groups in Washington, DC. Sponsors include City Bikes Merkle, Continuum Energy Solutions, Whole Foods P Street, the Looking Glass Lounge, Deuter, Serfas, SRAM, WTB. Check out www.dcmtb.com.
Since evolving from an old gas station in 1987, City Bikes has made thousands of people happy with their bike - for fun, fitness and transportation. City Bikes' vision is for Washington DC to flow freely with the clean, friendly motion of bicycles. Check out www.citybikes.com.
[ed note -- the Darren tearing up the race course is not the same Darren who writes this crap blog. Quite plainly.]
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The World Naked Bike Ride FAQ indicates that I can ride "as bare as I dare." Canadianly modest, I will be scouring eBay hoping somebody is reselling a Cipo skinsuit.It was for charity, but really, $43K for a used form-fitting skinsuit? Blech.
Monday, April 21, 2008
For that split second, when you plunge past a car window with a 4-8 year old face smushed against it, you are the coolest person ever.
Weather is looking 50/50, so we'll email and post a notice here on the blog in case we need to cancel. We don't have a rain date.
And thanks to Joe for use of the pic above. The ad ran somewhere in the Washington City Paper last week, and was supposed to be full page, but got bumped in layout down to one-third. It might run this week in its full-page state, but i'm not sure.
We just unfurled our Vision and Mission statements, so I thought I'd look at the NEA's, too. "Our vision is a great public school for every student." Can't argue with that.
We loaded a coupla bikes into Phil's Burley trailer, I chased on a Breezer Citizen loaded down with panniers, three messenger bags hanging off of me, and we coasted down 16th.
We got to talk to dozens of people, show them a few of our bikes and accessories, and of course, beg them to sign up for Bike to Work Day (Free!! No obligation!! Free t-shirt/bagels/water bottle/iced tea!!! Raffle bike giveaways!!!). Phil has these ladies convinced, I think.So, we talked to a goodly number of folks who commute in from the suburbs, don't bike, and definitely don't bike to work. We had three bikes on display -- the Breezer Citizen, a Specialized Crossroads Sport step-through, and a Masi Soulville. The most common inquiry was, "I'm looking for a bike, just to go out on the trails on weekends, with a big poofy saddle, and $300 or so." Given those criteria, the Crossroads was a huge hit. We, as an industry, need to keep working on the most common objection -- "I can't sit on a bike seat."
The Soulville in beige is a visual stunner, and even the most bike-indifferent passersby were taken by it's obviously stylish looks. And the pricetag, more than double the Crossroads, did not seem to faze too many folks. People will pay for pretty, and this is a notion that is anathema to the utilitarian bent of the bike industry.
The Breezer is priced between the two, and a few cyclists looked them over, but the casual cyclist is not going to really appreciate the value of all the included accessories. Internal hubs, however, were a real crowd-pleaser.
Well, that's about all. Pencils down.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The editors chose Phoenix Bikes, a community nonprofit shop in Arlington, which nobody can quibble with, a huge congrats to them. I've never visited, but I intend to.
Anyway, both the honor and the City Paper's tagline for this feature ("This week we shun mediocrity") are pretty timely. We've been doing a lot of work in the past couple of years to figure out what we do well, and fix the things we don't do well. The partial result is our Vision and Mission statements (stop rolling your eyes, it's not total BS). Hopefully, you've also noticed a tangible improvement in the stores lately, and hopefully that helped lead to the honor.
There's always more to be done, though, and we have some plans to use the website and this blog to open our figurative windows to the sunlight. Shun that mediocrity. I'll hit on some of that in a subsequent post, because I'm starting to ramble. But in the meantime, the comment field is open for you to register either your congrats or complaints.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Don't fret though, we get a LOT of no-shows, so it's worth swinging by a few minutes ahead to see about getting in. Two sessions left to go in this series, and then we'll examine the schedule and see about getting another round going sometime this summer. Subscribe to the newsletter, that's where we'll announce dates first, and nab your spot. And they're free, just bring a smile and a willingness to get your hands a bit grimy.Call me biased, but I think Ben really does a great job explaining the sometimes complex workings of a bicycle in a manner that's understandable, without being patronizing. Especially if you're a frequent cyclist, or ready to be won over to the world of bike commuting by Bike to Work Day, please try to join us. Bicycling is greatly enhanced by a well-running bike, and the confidence and peace-of-mind that comes from being able to diagnose and correct the inevitable little problems that will crop up with frequent riding.
A few observations -- over 50% of participants in the two classes so far were women. That's pretty cool. Stated reasons for attending included a desire to fix specific current problems ("the gears on my bike are skipping"), a need to start regularly commuting ("oy, gas prices!"), personal development ("I like knowing how stuff I use works"), and a mumble or two about bike shops charging a fortune for service (ouch).
Anyway, it's worth repeating -- if you want in on one of the last two sessions (focusing on brakes and wheel truing), please drop by the Adams Morgan store the day of, we'll try to squeeze you in. And subscribe to the newsletter or check our events page for future sessions, we want to get everybody out there riding!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
However, a big part of all these late nights has been trying to figure out how to lengthen the typical maintenance interval for a bicycle. Chain lube is a big maintenance item. Gotta keep that chain running smooth.
So, the fine folks at Performance Cycle Products sent us a sample of something they've been brewing up. No, not that Performance. PCP is a longtime distributor, and i don't think they have a website. Anyway, I always enjoy a good pun, see below....
Read that name one more time. Chain-L No. 5. Say it out loud if you have to. Enjoy it before the copyright lawyers smell the chum in the water.
It's supposed to last more than 1000 all-weather miles between re-application, and its consistency lies somewhere between motor oil and yoghurt. So, I'm giving my chain a thorough cleaning, and testing out a sample of this stuff.
Tidbits from Phil, who clearly has a soft spot for Performance Cycle Products. They used to send out a monthly bulletin called "A Gram of PCP." Our "Monthly Newsletter" falls pretty far short on the clever scale. And they gave out the water bottles depicted below.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
That one maverick was Devin, part-owner of the Brighter Days co-operative dogwalking and pet-sitting service. Check out their values page, and how they get to their client sites exclusively by bike.
Turns out, I bid and won their donated dogwalking services at last year's Gala, and they took perfect care of my rather high-maintenance dog, Crash, last seen drooling and snoring in my checked baggage. I never knew they did all their work by bike, and really wish they routinely served my NoVA neighborhood. But if you're in the District, they probably serve yours.Having established the cosmic synergy and obvious need for Devin to possess this bicycle, salesguy Danny whipped out his widest elbows to fend off any bid snipers that the forces of karma missed. No need. Danny and Devin are pictured below, celebrating a well-deserved win, with what could be a PBR.Enjoy the bike. The downside is that one dogwalker's bargain is one bicycle advocacy association's lower-than-expected revenue. But let's all renew our memberships to put everything in balance, okay?
Friday, April 11, 2008
Anyway, David mentioned these rim adornments that I found a bit more to my liking, since they make at least a nod toward practicality. Then a sample showed up in my inbox a coupla days later. One of these days, I'll actually mount them up, take a few pics, and someone else can link to them and make snarky comments about my questionable taste in rim aesthetics.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
So, the answer to the unasked trivia question, "What does the shop owner ride?" is the Masi SoulVille (we'll tackle part B of this question if we can manage to capture Phil's truly post-apocalyptic Road Warrior on film).
Note Charlie's practical additions of a rear rack, a mini Krypto lock, substitution of the stock leather saddle for a plush Serfas, and his ever-present helmet. In his bag, no doubt.
We've been crowing about this bike in the newsletter (subscribe box on your right!!) for a few months now, and people seem to agree that it's a pretty nice ride. More iterations on the way....
Friday, April 4, 2008
Another dot in the evolving Impressionist painting titled, "Dorky Peasants Bicycle to Work Devoid of Style." Jeez. If there's one thing we as a community do well, and occasionally a little too well, it's indignation. See some commentary here.
State Farm is trying to sell a product, that product depends on people wanting to drive, and it's not surprising that they'll try to create demand for their product by denigrating alternatives. Marketers, politicians, even lowly bike stores choose to 'go negative' on each other all the time.
If the mass market accepts that Impressionist painting, I'm relegated to the gallery gift store. So, State Farm, do what you have to do. But you sell other insurance products. For instance, you've been selling City Bikes a rather lucrative general liability insurance policy for many years. You sold me my renter's insurance. Set your fleet of actuaries to work computing the odds that we'll renew either of these....
Thursday, April 3, 2008
The victim of some baffling inventory system problem that I still don't understand two years later, this beautiful bike has been off the floor, unable to be sold. So, since we can't sell it, we're donating it to WABA for the Gala April 12th. And yes, we'll turn the bars before delivery. I love that seatpost:I REALLY love that seatpost:Yes, it's drilled for brakes.And for those who won't ride anything not deemed suitable for track racing by small Japanese men, rest easy knowing that the handlebars are NJS stamped. Second goodbye is more of a 'see ya later' to Mike, who's moving on to a big boy job. It's sad to see a friend and skilled colleague move on, but he's left the joint in great shape for his successor, Eric. Good luck, Mike!