Category Archives: Personal stuff

Hi, I’m Mike, I suck at technical Mountain Biking

You can see Steve coming up fast on the guy rockin' it on the technical descent through the rocks. You're thinking yeah, that guy better move out of the way or Steve's going to run him over! Team Chain Reaction schooling the world! Yeah!
You can see Steve coming up fast on the guy rockin’ it on the technical descent through the rocks. You’re thinking yeah, that guy better move out of the way or Steve’s going to run him over! Team Chain Reaction schooling the world! Yeah!

No, this is not the first step in a 13-step program, because that would imply I’m going to get better. Ain’t going to happen. I just can’t suspend my disbelief, the idea that I can ride over rocky terrain and not crash and burn and maybe look like a human tumbleweed rolling down the hill.

Well, um, sure, like that's gonna happen. I was hoping to get a more-impressive photo, before Steve unclipped. This might not be his area to shine, but trust me, I suck even more.
Well, um, sure, like that’s gonna happen. I was hoping to get a more-impressive photo, before Steve unclipped. This might not be his area to shine, but trust me, I suck even more.

It’s not as if my brother Steve was a lot better. But I think he sucked less, and that’s a good thing. He’s at least getting out on a mountain bike fairly often, but obviously in very different terrain than what we experienced today.

Obviously, we didn’t travel all the way to Arizona to do two short mountain bike rides! This was the “fun” part of a 3 day program called the IBD Summit, one of those things where you get together with a bunch of the best dealers across the country (70 shops represented) and a lot of distributors (they outnumbered us 2 to 1) and discuss what can be done to make cycling better for everyone. We’re facing some significant issues in this industry, with the number of brick & mortar bicycle retailers dropping fast, especially in more-rural areas. What people are noticing is that bicycle retailers are actually part of the infrastructure that enables cycling, and that areas without many shops are in decline, participation-wise. Why? Because not everything can be done on-line, like fix a flat, make a bike fit better and ride more comfortably, even help choosing the right type of bike for a given area.

The message to the industry is that it’s not fair that the brick & mortar retailers get charged more than the on-line players (we do, this is honestly true!) and it’s especially not fair that our end of the business ends up incurring the costs and time of dealing with warranty issues that arise, regardless of where purchased. Things may finally change for the better.

But enough of that. Enjoy making fun of my incompetence, and yes, it really could be that the purpose of my life is to serve as a warning to others. As in, if your technical mountain biking skills are like mine, when you get out on the trail, you don’t want any witnesses.  –Mike–

 

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Are you riding the right bike? How can you tell?

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2 Headlights, 2 taillights, camera, Garmin computer, what, me, geeked out?

Many people, perhaps most, aren’t riding the right bike. Know how you can tell? Could be because you’re not on it right now. Do you look for reasons to ride someplace? Or do you drive because it’s more convenient?

I bring this up because this morning by daughter, who works in our Redwood City store, had to drive to work today (ear infection so she’s been told not to ride, and, unlike me, she’s sensible and does what the doctor says). It would be super-easy to just get in the car with her and go to work, and later drive home. Avoid the 400ft climb home and having to take a shower before dinner.

Umm… no. I’d much rather ride. I feel alive on my bike. It fits great, it feels like it wants to fly with every pedal stroke. My mind is engaged as I share the road with others, whereas in a car I’d be in drone mode.

On my commute home I often tell myself that I’m going to take it easy, but after the first two stop lights you get to are green, it’s inevitably all-systems-go for a fast ride home. My bike expects this. It’s dark, but I’m lit up with two tail lights, two headlights. Cars see me from a distance, and I live for that sound of their tires over bots dots, telling me they’re moving over to give me room. A long day at work and my bike has put me in the zone.

I get home breathless (I live at the end of that 400ft climb) and I’m still breathing hard when I enter the house. My wife asks if I’m OK, and I’m thinking, day after day, this is what I am, this is what my bike and I do, I’m not only OK but I’m alive.

So what is the “right bike?” It’s the bike that you can’t walk past without wanting to get out and ride. It’s the bike that you go out on a 70 mile ride earlier in the day and then later you might be running errands in a car, seeing other bikes on the road, and asking yourself why you’re not out riding. What makes such a bike so special? It’s the way it just seems to become a part of you when you’re on it. The feeling that IronMan gets when he puts on his suit. Maybe it’s super-light, maybe it’s got a custom paint job, maybe you live for that perfectly-shifting gear change you get with electric Di2 shifting.

It doesn’t have to be a fast high-end road bike. It might be a hybrid commuter, or a beautifully-styled cruiser. It could be a kid’s first bike. But I’d be really happy if it’s a Trek (or an Electra if a cruiser) from Chain Reaction, because that means we didn’t just sell a bike… we helped create a happier, healthier bike-person.

So where should you buy your next bike? From us, of course, because this is the dream we live for. If you just want to buy a bike because it’s the thing to do and everyone else has one, and it’s just going to sit around like so many other short-term “seemed like a good idea at the time” things, well, there’s lots of places for that. It would be a failure on my part for that to happen. But if you want to risk a life-changing experience, come to us. That’s what we live for. –Mike Jacoubowsky, Partner, Chain Reaction Bicycles

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