Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some Cycling Winners And Losers In 2013

As the end of the year is at hand, it is quite apropos to reflect back on said year, me thinks.  This includes pondering things we did, things we did not do, things we planned to do, but did not have time, things we planned to do, but chickened out of, and finally, things we did actually do and were damned surprised to get away with.
General George S. Patton said it best when he espoused the only way to really find out what was going on was to talk to the troops rather than the officers.  This, of course, led to his “If everyone is thinking alike, no one is thinking,” quote.  Therefore, I have spent the year canvassing local bike shops, talking to the bike shop owners, old riders, new riders, prospective riders, municipal officials, law enforcement, non-riders, et al, to discover what people were indeed thinking, and to get a grip on what this whole cycling thing is about. 

Some of my discoveries were local and some are macro.  Thus, I put forth the following tidbits, with my first (hopefully to be annually) Winners & Losers list.

Winners: Fresh & Easy Markets.  I had never been to a Fresh & Easy, but after the treatment I received at a local Trader Joe’s, I am now a solid customer.  The products are comparable, cheaper in a most cases, and they are 100 % bicycle aware and friendly.  Don’t have a bike lock?  No problem.  Bikes are allowed to park in the store while you shop.

Losers: Trader Joe’s.  For a chain that touts itself as health and athlete friendly, they really are not.  I stopped in while on a ride to pick up a couple of items and asked permission to park inside the door for a brief minute.  The sales clerk said “OK,” and even moved a plant display to facilitate my bike.  Right then, the store manager barked at me what an inconvenience it was to have my bike in the store, what a huge favor they were doing for me, and “All of you cyclists expect preferential treatment.”

After I made my purchase ( no more than 60 seconds after being lectured and talked-down to), another sales clerk knocked my bike over in full view of the manager, checkout staff and customers.  No apology came from any of the staff members or management.

Sorry T.J’s, you ain’t getting my hard earned money, anymore.

Winners: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and California Highway Patrol.  Friendly and helpful, with the safety of all cyclists in mind.  They are aware of us and always willing to lend a helping hand.

Losers: Monrovia Police Department, Monrovia, California.  Short fuses, revenue minded, with no patience, and little understanding of cyclists.

Winners: Pasadena Cyclery, Pasadena, California.  Allan and the boys put the relationship with the customer before the sale.  They are fair, knowledgeable, helpful, and above all, very friendly.

This is the kind of local shop we should support, because when you need them, they are there.  Mail order is not that helpful, nor friendly.
Losers: Shops that do not establish a business relationship with their customers and sell at full-boat retail.

Winners: All of those who got a bike, got out on it, met people, stopped for coffee and soaked in the sunshine.

Losers:  Those who continue to miss out on what a wonderful world cycling is.  Also, those who do ride, but are rude, arrogant, and view cycling as something to be hurried through, just like sex and root canals.
Winners: Real Cycling Clubs.  Providing a place for cyclists of all levels to meet and ride with others.  There is inclusiveness, kindness, and assistance, all without the cliqueiness.  A riders cycling life will thrive and prosper here.  There are tangible benefits to membership, and this club will grow by leaps and bounds.  You will know when you have found one.
Losers: Phony Cycling Clubs.  The antithesis of the “Real Club,” these types really offer no hope for a rider’s growth potential.  New riders are not nurtured, nor welcome, thus membership will dwindle.  Save for the controlling clique, there are no real benefits of membership.  You will know when you have found one.
Winners: Safe, Kind, Courteous Drivers.  These are the folks that understand what “Share The Road” means.  They will live long, happy, prosperous lives.

Losers: Rude, Selfish, Dangerous Drivers.  These people are far too frequent, and they will most likely die behind the wheel, if not from an early heart attack.  They are impatient, angry, and are so self-centered, they think the Universe actually revolves around them.

Winners: Disc Brakes.  They are coming, they will be awesome, and they are a whole lot safer than the standard rim brake.

Losers: The Rim Brake.  Long on the tooth, short on actual stopping power, its time has come.

There are, of course, many, many more examples, however, I am not doing a thesis here, just a few items which popped into my head when I sat down to write this missive.  Truth be told, this exercise was kinda’ fun to put together, so I will throw some more points into my next “Random Thoughts From The Passing Scene,” installment.

In closing, ride, be safe out there, have fun and talk to people.  I have ridden motorcycles long enough to understand that one loud, open pipe Harley, or one knucklehead sport bike popping a wheelie on the freeway, lumped us all into the same group of “Bikers.”  Well, though I have traded internal combustion for pedal power, the treatment and lack of respect from the driving public seems to be worse.  I do not see this changing anytime soon, unfortunately.  Therefore, be friendly, be courteous, and above all, be patient.

Remember, Cycling is people.

Happy New Year!

Darryl Bustamante, Editor

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