Thursday, September 26, 2019

It's Fall! ...and an announcement for my Portland readers

Greetings, bicycle lovers!

Fall officially began on the 22nd. But we've been easing into it with a one-step-forward, two-steps-back sort of gait for a couple of weeks. Today marked the beginning of the end of warm days in the high 70s/low 80s, with a high reaching only 67F and the week's forecast introduces us to successive nights in the 40s.

I couldn't be happier. After a summer that included more humid days than I used to, I'm ready for sweater weather, even if it comes with the need to carry raingear in my saddle bag from now through next June. Tomorrow I'll be swapping out the shorts and cotton socks, and swapping in the woolies (my dresser's only large enough for one season's worth of clothes).

Once my music work is finished for the season (Oct 18 is my last day when I have to be in top vocal form for severa weeks), I'll look forward to some rides in the local parks to admire the turning leaves and the cooler air. Nothing ambitious anymore, but always pleasurable.


And now, for that announcement for my Portland readers:

As I get farther and farther from lots of bicycle repair work, the time is coming when I will need to let go of some of my bicycle parts and tools. Rather than post a detailed list and toss it all up online, I'd rather make it available to local folks first, on a cash-only basis. I'll announce a day and time for either late October (I promise it won't be Haloween) or early November, likely a Sunday. I will post the date here and invite you to email me for a location, day and time.

I will be selling stuff at stupid-low prices because I want it to get into the hands of bike mechanics who will use it. I don't care if you're a hobbyist or a working shop pro, I have some tools and want to see them go into good hands. I will be selling things affordably enough that I hope I won't have to endure a lot of haggling. I just want to move things along with the least fuss possible.

Whatever's left at the end I will donate to my favorite bicycle nonprofit, Bikes 4 Humanity.

Along with the tools I'll be moving along a few random parts and possibly some accessories (clothing, camping gear and bags).

So there you have it. Watch this space for an announcement and help me gain some clarity.

And happy Fall riding!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Coffeeneuring for the hell of it

So the Coffeeneuring Challenge will soon be up and running.
And this year, I don't think I'm going to sign up for it in any official way.
Partly because it overlaps my High Holy Days schedule enough that I don't want to HAVE to ride on a rainy day if my voice tells me it's better to stay indoors; amd partly because I feel like I've done everything I can do with this and still have fun.
I have enough patches and bandannas to last awhile; and in fact will be passing sme of the extras along to friends because I just don't need them anymore.

But still, coffeeneuring is a perfect excuse to ride your bike somewhere.
So if you want to get a cup of coffee, treat yourself and ride to a cafe. Support the local economy. Move your legs and breathe some outdoor air.

Drink up! And hapy riding!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

seasons turning: a ride through north portland

I woke up too late to make it to shul this morning so I decided instead to enjoy a little bike ride around North Portland before the rain came in the late afternoon.
Stops along the way included Peninsula Park, N. Willamette Boulevard (a couple of scenic stops), and the compass rose viewing area at the south end of University of Portland.

Some pix from the day's ride, which meandered for a couple of hours and stayed deliciously cool and cloudy the whole time.


Sunday, September 1, 2019

It's all in the label: Surly edition

This weekend, an item appeared for sale on eBay, a nice wool cap in lovely purple stripes.

 I think it's attractive.
If I didn't already own one each of a simple knit cap and a wool brimmed cycling cap, I might consider buying it.

Except for one small thing: the price.
The opening bid on this wool cap is $30.
That's right, thirty bucks for a factory-made cap that is pretty but otherwise unexceptional.

Here's where things get interesting.

The hat was advertised not by its material first, but by its brand name, which somehow seemed to make that high opening bid okay.

The hat was sold by Surly Bikes. On the other side it had a small label with its logo on it.
And for a moment, even in MY jaded mind, the price tag wasn't so crazy. Because I, too, have been conditioned to shop for brands. That's especially true when it comes to bicycle-related things.

But I caught myself, and regained my senses. That tiny label on one side is why the seller is charging -- and may well realize -- his asking price. The allure and the "lore" of the Surly brand is so strong that even a simply knit cap can demand a higher price if you stick a "Surly" tag on it. Never mind that it's too bulky to fit under a helmet, or that there's nothing about the style of the cap even remotely related to cycling; that little tag makes all the difference.

I reflected on this paradigm ten years ago with the Rapha brand, marveling at how the application of a carefully-researched and well-branded name could increase the price of a cycling jersey by two to three times its prior value. EVen after Rapha was bought by a Walmart subsidiary in 2013, people still flock to the brand.

So once I realized what tricks were being played on my mind by a combination of my upbringing and the phenomenon of branding in today's capitalist economy, I calmed down, had a chuckle and moved on. Because when I can buy a knit cap for five bucks, why spend thirty? Especially since the only reason for the high price is a stupid little tag that could be easily removed?

To be fair, some heavily-marketed items are worth the higher price in terms of function and quality. That's why I continue to be picky about the jeans and shoes I wear. But in so many cases, perfectly acceptable non-branded versions of some items are a third of the price, work just as well and look just as nice. And while this may not always be the case, especially if the Buy Local crowd has their way (they won't in the end, but I digress), it's true enough for now that if you have three kids to outfit for school, you can do it a lot cheaper and more simply then this.

This is the power of branding. The right combination of style-making, words and tag placement is enough to make us lose our heads and want to buy something that may not really be all that special.

I am working on the habit of examining each and every one of those moments when I'm tempted to lose my head. If I stop and do a seven-second check in, I find I'm less likely to shop in general. On my budget, that's a good thing. But learning how not to lose our heads economically may be good for the whole world, too.

I'm going to enjoy a bicycle ride today, to find my head again. It's Sunday, a perfect day for it.
Happy riding!