Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bicycle Thought

Reposted from the Sonoma County Gazette

(poster for Dec 13, 2016 event)

Bicycle Thought
By Geoffrey Smith
Over the years (61 so far) I’ve sought cognitive relief in creative ways. When my head is full of confusion and doubt. When I’m troubled about things going on in my life, big or small, I have turned to a variety of distractions in an effort to restore balance. I’ve found that physical exercise provides the best remedy for what ails me: walking, running, kayaking, hiking, backcountry skiing.
But nothing restores my optimism and zest for life like bicycling!
One of my earliest memories as a young child was that of ‘borrowing’ my 5-year old friend’s bicycle while he was having lunch, and taking it for an inaugural ride down the sidewalk. Oh joy! In an instant, my world opened up in ways previously unimaginable. Suddenly my mobility options expanded dramatically. I was optimistic about the future!

Many years and countless miles later, bicycling remains my go to solution for exercise – not only of body, but of mind.  There is something about floating seemingly effortlessly across the surface of the planet, in defiance of gravity, that resonates. Perhaps it’s an inner-ear thing. The constant flow of oxygenated blood and endorphins to the brain over a sustained period of time leads to an enhanced state of mind and clarity of thought that often surprises me. It’s a coming together of mind, body and heart. Free of the shackles of a desk, or four walls, or television news – out there on a bicycle I enter a new sphere of consciousness that I refer to as ‘bicycle thought’ – that form of thought which can only be achieved while pedaling a finely-tuned bicycle.

In the difficult times that lie ahead, I will be turning to my two-wheeled therapy more regularly. I will point my bicycle in new directions, take paths less traveled by (with a nod to Robert Frost), and relish in the constantly changing scenery. Because it is with these changes that I become more optimistic with hope for the future.

If despair is an allegorical mountain that looms before me in the course of my daily life, then optimism is that feeling I get when I pedal up that mountain – slowly, steadily, enthusiastically – with my head full of enriching thought, and the knowledge that soon I will reach the top, then coast down the other side.

Geoffrey Smith is a life-long bicycle touring enthusiast. He owns and operates Bike Shop in Santa Rosa.

PHOTO: Silke Fleischer touring near Cortina, Italy, by Eric Converse

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bicycling Lightly on the Earth

Spokenotes, 2015 April
Published in the Sonoma County Gazette, April 2015
Bicycling Lightly on the Earth
What better way to honor the Earth in this Earth Day month, than to forgo the motor car for a day, a week, or forever.  With the United States finally catching on to the cargo bicycle revolution, I thought I would document a day in the life with a cargo bike...
Rolling up the garage door in the morning, the first decision I face is the toughest -- should I drive or should I ride?  This day I choose the bike, nestled there beside the car, occupying very little space...
Today I need to bring a 50lb bag of potting mix to my shop, for use in a planter.  Too heavy to walk to work with, but it's a snap on my cargo bike with the 400lb carrying capacity...
On the way home after work, I stop in at the California Welcome Center in the train station at Railroad Square, to talk with the nice volunteers about upcoming events in our county.  I tend to be most interested in the bicycle rides.  I ride my cargo bike right up to the door.  Parking is no problem, using the bike rack donated last year by Bike Shop...
Keeping up with the groceries is a breeze on the cargo bike!  The ride to the market is refreshing, and the bike has plenty of room for five or more bulky bags of groceries...
Did I mention?  The cargo bike can stand on it's tail, squeezing into the space next to our front door...
Attention parents!  My neighbors have discovered the fun and convenience of this cargo bike ---aka 'The New SUV'!  Now going to school or the park is an adventure, and good exercise, too...
And the best part?  This zero-carbon, super fun, versatile hauling bike is not mine!  It's ours!  You  can check this and other cool bikes out from the Free Lending Library at the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition,  Do it!  The Earth will thank you!
Geoffrey Smith sells the Bike Friday Haul-a-Day cargo bike and other zero-emission vehicles, at his Bike Shop in Railroad Square, Santa Rosa.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Valentines All Year Long

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Share the Love in Sonoma County... Tandem Style!

Share the Love in Sonoma County...
Tandem Style!

The air is fresh, the roads are clean. Spring is just around the corner. Money is tight. You're broke. You are in love. What are you going to do?

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I'm half crazy all for the love of you.
It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage,
But you'd look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.
- "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)", by Harry Dacre (1892)

Harry Dacre had the right idea back in 1892. Take your partner by the hand, put a helmet on him or her, and head for the open road... on a tandem! What better way to experience bicycling joy than riding with the one you love...on the same bike!
Yes my courting friends, today's tandem bicycles have elevated the joy of the sport by leaps and bounds since those grand bicycling days of the 19th century. Today's sleek machines are lighter, faster, better hill climbers, better stoppers (brakes are important!), and more comfortable than what the subjects of good-intentioned courtships were subjected to in 1892.
Yet the magic is the same. Legs pumping in unison. Bodies leaning to and fro, joined in a common effort. The breath in sync. The warm touch just a reach away. The harmonious squeals of joy, the moans of pain. After all, isn't that what it's all about? (That's as far we go with this article intended for general audiences.)
Tandeming could just be the ultimate test of a budding relationship.  What better way to see if you two are compatico than by clipping into the pedals of a single machine, and letting one (or the other) of you do the driving? A word of caution here: Many long-term committed couples have struggled with this perceived forced cooperation. If there is a marriage contract already in force, discretion is advised.
The Race Across America (RAAM) tandem team of Susan Notorangelo and Lon Haldeman are a pair. While setting their second trans-continental race record of 9 days in 1989, the duo employed a unique strategy: They wore each other’s heart monitors!  While one was captaining the tandem, the other -- the ‘stoker’ -- would monitor his partner’s pulse. When it dropped below a threshold, they would swap positions. I wonder what happened to Susan’s pulse when Lon expressed his love for her...
Geek Factoid #1: The first known example of computer speech synthesis took place in 1961 at Bell Labs when an IBM 704 computer sang ‘Daisy, Daisy’ to a rapt audience of computer programmers! Do you think they were in love?
Geoffrey Smith and his valentine Camille Armstrong own Bike Shop in Santa Rosa. They can often be seen pumping together on their Bike Friday folding tandem

Published February 1, 2015 in The Sonoma County Gazette,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ride a bike. Avoid lines.

Tired of standing in line at DMV?  We have a solution: Ride a bike!  Bicycles require no registration, nor a license to operate.  No insurance either.  Not yet anyway.

Think about it.

I am.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A note from the road

There are days in the life of a bicycle shop owner that make all the hassle of running a business worth while.  Today I received an update from the road, sent on behalf of two customers of ours who embarked on a 4-month bicycle and climbing adventure on the other side of the world.  Kristi and Brant purchased two of our Bike Friday folding OSATA bikes in December.  They handily found gently-used travel cases and trailer kits, and headed out.

We can practically hear the ocean waves breaking on the beach... somewhere in Indonesia!

Proud father Richard reports that the couple is having a great time, and the bikes are working out very well indeed.   From the looks of these photos, we would have to agree!

Sales pitch: Our Bike Friday folding bicycles, combined with the hard-shell travel cases and trailers, make for a very versatile travel system, with many benefits while traveling on rugged roads, sandy beaches, and public transit.

Anywhere in the world.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Traveling Executive's Packing Checklist

Travel checklist:

  • Shirt
  • Jacket
  • Parka
  • Pants
  • Socks
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Pocket Rocket