Sunday, February 27, 2005

Continuing Care: A reason to buy a bike at bikes@vienna

Soon after I opened bikes@vienna my lovely mother-in-law, Sara, sent me an article from the Seattle newspaper. The article featured a Seattle bike store which provided continuing service on the bikes they sold. I do not remember all the details, but it was the inspiration for what is called Continuing Care at bikes@vienna.

When you buy a new bike from bikes@vienna I promise that we will provide small repairs and adjustment for as long as your family owns the bike. As long as the cost of labor is under $20 then you will only be charged for the parts. A flat tube under Continuing Care is a good example; we will replace the bad tube and only charge you for the cost of the tube. You have saved $8 (our charge for switching a tube). We will adjust a derailleur or adjust a brake and because the labor is under $20 you’ll pay nothing. Our idea is for you to keep your bike in good condition so riding is fun and you ride more.

The question gets asked whether we give free or annual tune-ups? We do not. A brake and gear tune-up costs $40 so that is beyond the threshold. We do much better in my opinion. We work to keep your bike in better condition all year. Our effort is for you to visit us more than once a year. While you’re here might I try to sell you a new pump or basket or helmet? Yup, but I am low key.

Continuing Care is a reason for you to consider making your bike purchase at bikes@vienna.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Bike Info Expo

Last Sunday bikes@vienna held the Bike Info Expo at the Vienna Community Center. We took recumbents, trikes, tandems, folders, and even some upright bikes over to display. We enjoyed the company of several groups who had tables of information. PPTC and Bikes For The World joined the fun. Bruce Wright brought maps of the Fairfax County Trails. Pat Kraker set up the display of rider generated electricity. Becky Strode brought her highly acclaimed guide to bike rides on the back roads of Virginia and Maryland titled "Burn The Quads Feed The Brain".

I appreciate all the people that joined us. I was disappointed in the number of people that attended. We had almost 300 people attend the event last year and this year we didn't make it close to 100. I may not have done as good a job of publicity. Perhaps it was a mistake to schedule it during the President's Day weekend. Maybe the forecast of lousy weather played a part. Whatever the reason or reasons I have lots of work to get the event back on track for next year.

The event reaffirmed what I already know about bikes@vienna. There is too much in the store. The gym at the Community Center was filled with bikes and there were still lots at the store. I have to make changes. I'll tell you what I'm considering in a near future entry.

Happy Trails to you and my thanks to all the people that participated in the Bike Info Expo.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Planning A Great Year of Riding

The Bike Info Expo is later today. For many years I wrote to rides all over and had them send me brochures about their ride. The result was a sea of paper and too much waste. Here are nearby cycling opportunities that I gathered. You can explore rides that are within several hours of Northern Viriginia. I'll have information about rides in other parts of the country next week.

2005 Calendar of Cycling Opportunities

Capitol to Capitol Century 5.14.05

Maryland Tour de Cure 5.14.05

Bike To Work Day 5.20.05

Virginia Dare MS 150 Bike Tour 6.4.05 - 6.5.05

Patuxent River Rural Legacy Ride 6.11.05

VA Tour de Cure 6.12.05

Shenandoah Tour 6.13.05 - 6.17.05

Mates Williamsburg Tandem Rally 6.17.05 - 6.19.05

Cycle Across Maryland 6.23.05 – 6.26.05

Bike Virginia 6.24.05 - 6.29.05

Great Peanut Ride 9.8.05

Bike DC 9.TBA.05

PPTC Century 9.18.05

50 States Tour 9.24.05

Shenandoah Valley Classic MS 150K 9.24.05 – 9.25.05

Seagull Century 10.8.05

Kernstown Battlefield Association Ride 10.9.05

Shenandoah Fall Folliage Bike Festival 10.15.05 – 10.17.05

Tour de Port 10.16.05

Canal Tour 10.16.05-10.21.05

bikes@vienna Guilt Reduction Ride 11.24.05

Thursday, February 17, 2005

What does this mean?

I'm tilting my head one way and then the other. I guess I'm hoping for blood flow that will result in greater thinking power. Here's a twist that will test my business skills.

Yesterday my sales representative for an important source of recumbents told me that the cost of their recumbents will go up 20% on March 1. Holy moly! Let me tilt my head to the right. I'm trying to figure out the best action based on that news. The product has been a leading seller for bikes@vienna. I've got time to stock up, but little space for storage. My sales reports for recent years show that early spring is not when most recumbents are purchased. Chances are good that I'd have boxes and boxes to work around until mid summer.

Is this a trend that I will see from other companies? I need to do some research today. Is it exchange rates? Is it material costs? Is it a company improving their profitability? Excuse me, I need to do a head tilt to the left. We were working towards inversion poses at yoga class last night and maybe I need to accelerate that process to stimulate this brain.

Business is seldom boring because much of the time you are adjusting to the ebb and flow of circumstances over which you have little influence. 20%......???? That's a big ebb.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

My Wonderful Customers

Larry Varney of Bent Rider On Line Magazine was kind to send me the photo above. It was captured last weekend in Florida at the Catrike Rally. Shown from left to right are Len, Mary, Paulo, Hank, and Ken. Most of the time you can find Len, Mary, Hank and Ken riding their Catrikes on the W&OD Trail. Paulo is the designer of the Catrike line of trikes.

I appreciate the wonderful publicity that bikes@vienna gains when delightful people like Len, Mary, Hank, and Ken are so thoughtful as to wear t-shirts promoting the store. My thanks to the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Catrike Owners Assocation.

A Gift to Everyone There

I hope I can tell this story well.

Wednesday, Bruce, Pat and I had a small supporting role in a nice event. A large employer had gathered employees at a local hotel for training which stressed diversity and team building. They had arranged with a second company for a team building activity which was based on assembling children's bicycles. bikes@vienna supplied the bicycles.

The team building activity was cloaked in secrecy. The unassembled bikes were hidden until the last moment. The meeting participants were divided into teams and then told of their task. In addition to the assembly task they had to decorate the bikes, create a team poster, and a team chant. An important theme was diversity.

We walked into the ballroom as the teams began one by one to tell why they had selected certain names for their group, to show off their bike and their poster and perform their chant. It was a fun activity of people shedding some of their reserve. The crowd roared with laughter at many of the presentations. The setting was fun-filled.

With the last presentation the moderators directed the teams to line up their bikes at one end of the ballroom. The noise was peaking as the teams anticipated that the bikes would be ridden in a comical race of adults on 16" kids bikes. A number of people were already seated on the bikes.....ready to ride. The moderator worked to get the attention of the 140 adults in the room. She urged them to get their bikes ready for their riders.

Then the ballroom doors opened. Hand in hand twenty-four children walked into the room following their leader. These children, students in a local Headstart program, were to be the riders and ultimately the owners of these new bikes. The emotion in the ballroom was electrical. Teams reached out to children. Children rode the bikes. There were plenty of teary eyes, but tears of joy.

I share with you a photo of this sweet group of children sneaking down the hotel corridor to surprise the adults in the ballroom and to be surprised with receiving a new bike. Bicycles bring joy.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Does Lance ride a recumbent?

Last weekend we had a display booth at the McLean Health and Beauty Expo. John and I set up a few bikes, including an EZ-3 trike, and the 2005 Barcroft Columbia recumbent tandem that we recently received. I've done a few of these shows, and I've noticed that many of the visitors to the booth can't resist sitting on the trike. Many people who haven't ridden a bike in a while feel much more comfortable and secure on a trike than an upright.

As I was discussing the benefits of riding a recumbent, one of the visitors asked rather facetiously, "Does Lance ride a recumbent?". This is a common question; if recumbents are so great, why don't the pros ride them. My response was that Lance would probably be riding a recumbent had they not been banned from pro racing in the 1930's. According to The Recumbent Bicycle by Gunnar Fehlau, the first recumbent ridden by a professional cyclist was used to break the 1 hour record in 1932 with a distance of 45.1 km (27.9 miles) and to win the Paris-Limoges race in 1934. Shortly afterward, the Union Cycliste Internationale, UCI, voted to change the rules of pro racing to effectively ban recumbents from all future events. Imagine what kind of bikes pros would be racing had this vote not occurred.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

One Wheel - Many Spokes: USA by Unicycle

It won't surprise you that I enjoy books about traveling on a bicycle. A major joy for me in riding a bicycle is seeing things. I like to explore and the bicycle provides a near perfect method.

Daughter Jessica recently gave me Lars Clausen's book "One Wheel - Many Spokes: USA by Unicycle". We're only as far as South Dakota in his first trip across the country (he rides from Washington State to Boston to the Gulf to California), but I'm enjoying his description of the land and the people. His entourage includes his wife and young children plus another couple. Clausen is a Lutheran pastor. His trip included a fundraising effort for the Seward Peninsula Lutheran Endowment.

Clausen's story is a contrast to one of my favorite bike adventure books, "Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle". David Lamb, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize eight times, climbs on to a bike in Alexandria and rides to the end of the pier at Santa Monica. He rides alone much of the trip. He's using the trip to try to reshape his life.

Both of these books tell me more about America than about cycling and what I read is reassuring. What books are you reading? Read a good book about this land and the people lately?

Happy Trails to you.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Jo's AirGlide

I am always energized by the excitement of a person getting a new bicycle. I've had guys in their 70s tell me that they had problems sleeping because they were so excited about coming in to get their new bike the next day. It is delightful that bikes can have than influence on us.

Jo was relaxed when she came in to see her new Bike Friday AirGlide. She had waited almost six weeks for it to arrive. For weeks before placing the order she'd carefully planned how she was going to use the bike and ordered the fenders, rack, and trailer/suitcase. Now it was time to see how all this waiting was going to feel with a test ride. From the smile she gave me I think it was worth the wait.

Jo has plans for her Bike Friday. She's got places to go and see. I look forward to hearing about her travels. Since opening the store I probably get to ride less than I did before, but I get to relish the cycling experience of my customers. It is a good life.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Four Kettlers for the Sweetheart Sale

I admire the quality of German made products. Yesterday Adam assembled the Grasshopper and Streetmachine GTE from HP Velotechnik along with four new arrivals from Kettler. There was a sharp contrast in the styles of the bikes. The HP Velotechniks are recumbents with full suspension and underseat steering. The models we received from Kettler were "upright" 5 or 7 speed internal hub bikes with coaster brakes. From the photo above you'll see that the Kettler Delta is so similar to the stereotype we have of the classic European bike.

I try to keep several Kettlers in the store because people look for coaster brake (pedal backwards to stop) bikes and have a difficult time finding them especially with multiple speeds. These Kettlers have a wonderful feel. I was wheeling one last evening as we closed and I marveled at the balance. The Kettlers are not light weight bikes, but they move with ease. You can see the bikes at There is a site, but I don't believe the bikes are shown at that site.

Oh yes.....I'm putting a great price on these four bikes. The Delta (womens model) is on sale for $500. The his and hers City Comfort models are $575 each. The Antje will be $475 when we get a replacement part for the shifter cable. We are having a Sweetheart Sale from now through Saturday, February 19. These bikes are sweethearts. I wonder how to say that in German?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Two New Bikes From HP Velotechnik

HP Velotechnik GrasshopperHP Velotechnik Speed Machine
The bikes have just arrived and are still in the boxes, but they're new and that's what this effort is meant to achieve....tell people the news. Ever since Vision eased quietly into the night we have not had much to show people interested in under seat steering. I went to InterBike in October intent on creating a relationship with HP Velotechnik. Every since Dan King came into the shop five years ago with his Speedmachine I've known that someday I'd be stocking models from Hp Velotechnik. The quality, performance, and comfort of their bikes is exceptional.

Here are two more reasons to join us at the Bike Info Expo at the Vienna Community Center on Sunday, February 20 from 11 AM to 4 PM; the HP Velotechnik Grasshopper and Streetmachine.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

On With The Show

A popular question is "what do you do in the winter?" We go to "shows". Early in January it was the Washington RV & Camping Expo. Last weekend it was the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo. This Saturday it's the McLean Health & Beauty Expo. On Sunday, February 20th we move equipment to the Vienna Community Center and we stage the Bike Info Expo. March 11-13 we're back at the Dulles Expo Center for the Capitol Boat Show. We're going places to meet people and get them thinking and talking about riding a bicycle.

Last weekend the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo had 78,000 people march down the aisles of the Washington Convention Center. A good number of people stopped and talked to us about recumbents, tandems, trikes, and folding bikes. I must have folded and unfolded that Dahon Boardwalk 6 in the booth fifty times or more. It seemed like everyone wanted to ride one of our display bikes up and down the aisles so I had to dissaude them of that idea. Bill Cook, the founder, designer, and assembler of Barcroft Cycles, talked so much on Sunday that he began to lose his voice. Geoff Steele and Pat Kraker helped at the booth and as always did a wonderful job of fielding questions. We get lots of questions because people are excited about what they see. I get excited because we're out creating relationships. We're meeting hundreds of new people at a time when we'd be lucky to have a dozen new people visit the store.

For January, February, and early March it's on with the show.....this is it.

How We Picked The Name

Why would this be named "From The Pocket"?

When you visit bikes@vienna you find a display on the counter filled with "Shirt Pocket" and "Hip Pocket" notebooks from the "Rite in the Rain" all-weather writing paper people. The notebooks are bright yellow and as the names indicate the "Shirt Pocket" fits nicely in a shirt and the "Hip Pocket" fits in the rear pocket of a pair of slacks, jeans, or shorts. Are you seeing this coming? Several of us keep track of things at the store and in our lives in these notebooks. We envision the majority of information that appears in this space to come "From The Pocket".

After destroying my sixth Palm product last summer I decided that although I love Personal Digital Assistants, I was not capable of keeping one in working order. I located some Reporter's Notebooks at an office supply and started jotting my notes there as I had done years ago when Ces ( my wife) and I owned a couple of weekly newspapers in Iowa. Even though the Reporter's Notebooks brought back fond memories, they weren't working that well. I'd shove the notebook in my hip pocket and after two days it looked dog eared and tattered. If I got caught in the rain it was disaster.

Then it happened. Bruce Wright brought me a "Rite in the Rain" "Hip Pocket". I think he was tired of me grousing about the discomfort of sitting on the Reporter's Notebook. Maybe it was my grumbling about not being able to read my notes because I'd gotten the pages wet. Whatever his intention, Bruce did me a big favor. The "Hip Pocket" fits perfectly in my right rear pocket. The pages are waterproof so it's almost impossible to obscure the writing. I was so pleased that I became a disciple for the product. When Paul Murray, our globe trotting bike mechanic, prepared for his trip to India I went over to Fairfax Circle and bought him several "Shirt Pockets". My son-in-law, Drew Holloway, writes songs and he and his wife just bought a house (lots of lists for going to Home Depot) so guess what he got in his Christmas stocking. My Dad keeps a journal so I gave him a "Hip Pocket" to jot things down. It made sense for bikes@vienna to become a dealer for "Rite in the Rain".

SO.......this gathering of information gets its name from yellow covered (the cover is 100% post-consumer recycled material) notebooks of all-weather paper that Bruce, Paul, and I use around the store. It's that simple.