May 20th: Bike to Work Day

Bike to Work Day (Friday May 20, 2011) is sort of a bicycle holiday – it’s a chance for all of us that commute to work by bike to recognize each other as a team. It doesn’t matter if you bike to your job each day, or once a week, or if you’re just starting – Bike to Work Day is a celebration that we’re out there, enjoying the air and our legs and our bicycles. This year, Nancy Shore at getDowntown has organized some amazing events and rewards for cyclists. Here is a list of the events.

Common Cycle will be hosting a bike commuting station Friday morning (7-9am) at Division + Packard, across the street from Blimpy Burger. We’ll be there with our Mobile Repair Stand, some snacks, coffee from the Roos Roast Coffee Trike, and a bunch of smiling faces reminding you that biking to work is possibly the coolest thing in the world. Come say hi.

The Sunday Repair Stand Is Back!

Oh yes, indeed, we are re-opening the Repair Stand at the Ann Arbor Sunday Artisan Market. In case you missed it last year, every Sunday from April through October, Common Cycle sets up a couple of tents, bike stands, and tools and teaches Ann Arbor how to fix and maintain its bikes. For free. So, at no cost, you get to a) learn stuff, b) fix your bike, c) have fun, and d) meet awesome people. The only catch is that you’re gonna have to get dirty, but that’s half the fun. See you in Kerrytown on Sunday!

When: Sunday April 17th, 11am – 3pm

Where: Kerrytown: Artisan Market

Bring: your bike, your hands

And, if you’d like to volunteer to help out, fill out the form.

BANFF

Don’t forget to check out the Banff film festival this Sunday the 10th, at 7pm at the Michigan Theater! We’ll have a booth so you can chat up our handsome volunteers before watching wicked outdoorsy movies.

Spring planning meeting, 2011!

*UPDATE*

Change of location: We are meeting at the Jolly Pumpkin tonight, upstairs. 311 South Main Street. Same time, new place.

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I think this post deserves an exclamation point — Common Cycle had an amazing kick-off year in 2010 and we’re hoping to ride some of that momentum into 2011 as we plan our upcoming events and activities. We’re going to meet this week Tuesday, and that’s “we” as in you and me (I’m Piet) and volunteers and the Common Cycle board, and talk about what’s going on with Common Cycle, how we can improve, and what we’ll focus our work on in the next year.

The meeting plan is to do the following things:

  1. do a recap of last year’s awesome start for Common Cycle;
  2. grab suggestions of how to improve on what we did last year;
  3. give a rundown of and discuss proposed activities for 2011;
  4. plan for the mobile repair stand and other activities; and
  5. brainstorm other activities.

If you’re at all interested or have input to share, make some room in your schedule for 8:00pm Tuesday March 15th and come down to Sweetwaters at 123 West Washington St. in Ann Arbor. Feel free to email me if you have questions or ideas beforehand: piet AT commoncycle.org

So much stuff, so little time!

Despite the paucity of posts, we’ve been up to TONS of stuff lately!  The shirts are in, the stickers made, the spoke cards laminated, the custom engraved bottle openers have been machined, and we’ve got new trailers and tools.  Phew!  The mobile repair stand has been rockin’ hard with all of our new gear, sheltered by our second tent, and the new trailers are fantastic.  We can’t say enough great things about all of our Kickstarter donors, Kickstarter itself, and all of our volunteers.  We CAN say that all of your prizes are in the mail and should be arriving soon.  Thank you all so much!

We’re planning on next Sunday, the 24th being the last Mobile Repair Stand for the fall, but will still be available for special events.  Don’t worry, we’ll be busting out the tools and tents next Spring!  Also, we’re working to get some workshops rolling through the winter.  If there is anything in particular you want, please let us know by sending an email to info@commoncycle.org.

Some of the other events we’ve been involved in lately have been the DIY day at Vineyard Church, the homegrown festival, and we even sent some racers out to the Dorais Park Thunderdrome who took silver in the road and mountain races, as well as a bronze in road!  Hopefully we see you next Sunday at the stand.  We can get your bike ready for Night of The Living Tread (8pm on the Diag, October 30th), and ensure you’re set for a happy fall and winter of commuting on your bike.  Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful fall!

16 hands to seat a tire OR Cub Scout Bike Maintenance

Last week, Eric, Piet, and I got a chance to travel down to Saline to help teach some cub scouts bike maintenance.  I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect; I thought maybe we would be standing in front of a group of kids inside, trying to keep their interest as we explained some simple things about bikes.  Luckily, it turned out to be a much more fun time than that, and I think that Eric, Piet, and I learned as much about the power of the bicycle as the cub scouts learned about bike maintenance.

We arrived slightly late, and we pulled up to lots of young folks tearing around a parking lot while other kids waited for their bikes to be unloaded from parents’ cars.  We had three stands, so the plan was to work one-on-one with the kids.  We set up next to the building under an overhang, and got to work teaching the scouts about bike maintenance, one at a time.  We would be working with kids in the 8-10 age range.  Let the fun begin…

My first scout had a singlespeed bmx coaster brake-equipped bike (for some reason I got to work on all the singlespeeds (thumbs up)), and we set to work safety checking the bike.  I had scout #1 start pumping up his own tires, and watched as he used all of his weight and all his strength to bring the tires up to a high pressure of 20psi!  I finished the inflation for him, and we moved on.  His main concerns about his bike were the rust on the chain and chainrings and his seat height.  I made him wait until we checked some other bolts until moving onto his main concerns.  I applied some lube to his rusty chain, and saw his eyes light up.  As I spun the chain with the bike in the stand, he said, “my bike is so much faster now!”  Then, I took the bike down from the stand and we adjusted the seat up up a few inches.  I put the bike back in the stand just to double check some things and to try to get more rust off the chain, and he began to shake, as if he had to pee.  While bouncing up and down, he was saying, “I caaann’t waaiittt to ride my biiikkke” over and over again.  It was awesome.  As soon as the bike was put back on the ground, he was off, racing around the parking lot.

The rest of the night was very similar.  We all worked one-on-one with varieties of kids.  Some kids were all about the tools and pulling every tool out of my bag and playing with it.  Some kids just wanted their bikes to be faster.  One scout, whose brakes were barely operable and whose saddle was way too low, told me that his bike was fine and in perfect working order.  How did he know?  He can ride fast, so it has to be working well!  Other kids just wanted to climb on the brick pillars as we worked on their bikes.  Piet had the opportunity of working with a girl (a daughter of one of the leaders) who wanted to know everything there was to know about bikes.  At the young age of 13, she was already able to explain to Piet how a freewheel works!

The cool thing was that no one cared what types of bikes they had…what mattered was that they were having fun.  They don’t know or care what a singlespeed is, what a fixed-gear is, or what brands are cool.  All they cared about was riding fast and tearing around the parking lot, free to do as they pleased.  As I rode later that week, I thought back to those kids and the joy that biking brings them; it made me smile and enjoy the ride that much more.

At the end of the evening, Eric gathered the scouts to learn how to fix a flat tire.  He deflated the tube, a couple of the scouts used some tire levers to get the tire off.  He showed the scouts the tube, and that you would have thought that they were looking at the coolest toy in the world.  They squeezed it and pulled it until one of them shouted, “lets try to pop it!”  The kid whose tube it was got worried, and Eric quickly then showed them how to put it back in.  Sometimes, getting the tire bead back on the rim can be a real struggle…no so with 8 or more cub scouts!  It was awesome to see as many kids as could get their hands on the tire working together to seat the tire.  Then, it came time to pump up the tire.  Every scout had to get a chance to pump.  Once it was inflated, the game became seeing how much pressure each of them could generate with the pump while I held my thumb over the nozzle.  It was just like a carnival game, but for kids.

On the ride back to Ann Arbor, we talked about how cool it was to work with these kids and to observe their love of bikes…not too different from our own.

Success at SELMA

Last Friday morning we set up the Mobile Repair Stand at Friday Mornings @ SELMA, Ann Arbor’s “local foods breakfast salon.” It was an unusually quiet day at SELMA, but we still fixed a handful of bikes and met some great new people. There seems to be a lot of local foodie/bicycle enthusiast crossover around, which isn’t surprising.

Here we are, standing around drinking coffee and admiring how beautifully Jimmy set up the tools.
Repair Stand at SELMA

We had a great time and we’re hoping to continue setting up at SELMA on a monthly basis through the fall.