Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who are those Bike Guys in the Basement?

We were kids who grew up in a time and place that there were very few “rich” kids. And of those that were really rich, very few acted like they were. The fact is we are products of parents that grew up and lived through the Great Depression and came of age during WWII had cast us in a likeness of them as best they could. We were told to “make do with what you have" and "make your own fun” and “go outside and play.” Yeah, Yeah, you heard it all and that we walked to school up hill, in the snow, both ways. We are “Boomers”. OH my, we have a label…

So what does this have to do with us and bicycles? First, we did make do with what we had, or if we wanted something we got a job, paper route, mowed lawns etc. and bought it ourselves. Because, as a matter of fact, most parents in those days thought it wise to teach their children about money through the use of practical lessons. You earn it, save it, and then you will understand the value of it when you spend it. When something broke, you fixed or it sat there and maybe it got thrown out if you didn't. And when you worked the better part of a whole summer, at minimum wage, to save say $100, you just didn’t go buy the next best version of a something because v. 2.1 was newer and had cool new colors. So we have had our hands on bicycles for many years, learning something new almost every time.

Ok, so now we leap forward a few years to 2008. With all the headlines today, 2 wars, the economy, huge wild swings of oil prices, etc. reviving the old ways of making due with what you have, etc. just might be a great “new” way to live. Now mind you we have seen Nouveaux Rich spend like a CEO of a Big Three Auto Maker on a Junket to Washington DC during those Dot Com days. I am not advocating any life style over another, but the great throw away society we have evolved into, has got to slow down or else there will be nothing left to throw away and no where to throw it. Just because it’s not in your back yard doesn’t mean it's not in a back yard someplace else.

With all that could happen in our immediate future, not even to mention Global Warming, it has now become a very good thing to use a bicycle. And it is all the better if you can find one that has been around the block a few times before. We think it is very cool to find and rehab something that has a history, a story of moving people around perhaps over the very same streets some 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago. To be perfectly clear, we like and deal with not so old bicycles, too. Newer bicycles have the advantage of newer technology and are great rides also! They have a place, and we carry some old school road bikes up though some fairly new rides. With us it just preferences, like one might have with food, drink, the opposite sex or say... bicycles. It is all good, just some are better than others, according to preference.

But to preserve something as if we were caretakers or guardians of a lifestyle, or place, or thing, in my opinion, is more than the right thing to do. It’s noble, in a way like helping an elder across the street, a lost child find mom, picking up a piece of trash off the street. If you think about the use of bicycles, especially in an urban setting, it is just so right. Bicycles are all that and more. Even if the parts are all used up there still is a frame, a skeleton to base a new ride on. Not just to produce a cool single, fixed, or whatever. But just how about just paying it forward?

Why do we do it, well I joked that “…you can only surf and drink so much beer…” well ok, maybe not. The truth is this bike stuff is great fun. Fun to help out with all that is above, and turn a wrench, get hands dirty, meet literally hundreds of like minded folks every month from all parts of the human constellation. The learning goes on.

We, Vin of (OldRoads.com ) fame and I (Shawsheen) have had a great first year in our Cambridge retail shop. You have made it what it is. A small funky place, right off the Green Line T Stop, where you can find a good used bicycle, vintage or not, from about $80 to $250. Are the bikes all perfect in terms of paint, decals and finish? Nope, but I can tell you this. The bikes are all realiable commuters, just like the people who come in here to buy them. And that is the absolute truth.

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