It's National Bike Month.
It's also Bike To Work week. This is something I annually lament since taking this gig as a factory rep for a pretty rad bike company. (Before I forget, be sure to visit the League of American Bicyclists through the link above and donate a bit to their fantastic organization.)
Don't get me wrong. I'm very happy to have the job that I've worked hard get but there was a lot of joy in having a work commute via bicycle. Leaving the car behind, saving money, priming up the body for the work day are just a few of the benefits of riding your bike to work and home again.
But hey, this post isn't about me riding to work. This post is about someone else who decided to ride to work this year. My wife.
From the time we bought our first house and she had what would have been an eight mile commute to work, to the time we bought our second house and that commute length was chopped in half for Mrs. Bikewife, I couldn't successfully use the Jedi Mind Trick on her to bike to work and leave the SUV behind.
Fast forward to May of 2014 and I'm mulling over what to buy Joye, for Mother's Day. Our kids are older, more active and we've been taking them on bike rides at the local rails-to-trails which means using either a mountain bike (over kill for rail-trail riding), a cyclocross bike (she didn't like the 'loopy' feeling of it) or the road bike (23c tires on gravel, no way for her).
"What I need is a neighborhood sort of bike." stated Joye. "Something I can ride around with the kids and on the rail trail. Surely you can make that happen, working for a bike company." Sure, I thought, but which one? Much like shoes, bikes are very specific with their intended use. Like many bicycles, they overlap categories with other bicycles.
I had a thought about getting her a Bianchi Milano for Mother's Day.
Not too long after my light bulb went off, Joye is shared a story with me about a woman who traveled to Amsterdam and saw a lot of people bicycling to work. The men pedaled their bicycles donning a suit and tie, while the ladies wore a skirt. You know, keeping it casual as they pedaled their way to the office. This sounded very appealing to my wife as her visual of cycling is only through my impressions of being some leg shaven_neon logo'd_techno monkey on a road bike.
Now the fire to ride to work is lit inside for Joye and her new endeavor is dropped in my lap on the way to my daughter's Brownies Court of Awards Ceremony. From the ceremony, peck away on my smartphone to my inside sales guy at work that I need a Bianchi Metropoli Uno Dama shipped to my dealer here in town, STAT! Luckily we had some in the Ohio warehouse which guaranteed a Friday delivery. [I went with one of our bikes with a triple ring set up, knowing that Joye would have some hills to tackle during her commute. The Milano, being a single ring crank wouldn't cut the mustard.]
I end up building the bike Friday night while Joye was away at the theater with friends, taking in a show. I stayed behind, using the excuse that I needed to finish painting our last wall in the living room, knowing that I'd build the bike then.
With my pit tool box in the basement, along with the bike box and portable work stand, my daughter and I assembled Joye's bike. My daughter was very excited to help build her mom's new bicycle. Her curiosity and attention to detail is infectious. I love teaching the young, a new skill!
We stashed the bike in the basement until Sunday morning.
The morning of Mother's Day, I whipped together some french toast cupcakes for everyone and then rolled the bike into the sunroom.
Joye and the kids came downstairs to eat. The expression on my wife's face was larger than what any amount of flowers could have put on it. At least I like to think so!
Her major concern was having to ride to work on her road bike, using a large back pack. Using panniers and a city style bicycle would facilitate an easier commute for Joye. By having the bulk of the load on the bike would prevent her from becoming unnecessarily sweaty. Unfortunately, Joye's workplace doesn't have a shower so she'll be carrying the essentials to the job to freshen up with after the ride in.
Without hesitation, I equipped her bike last night with the finest bags in industry from Banjo Brothers. I've been using their products for almost a decade now. Their quality, durability and functionality is among the best in the industry for cycling. Currently she'll be using the first generation saddlebag pannier and I mounted a small deluxe seat bag for the tire repair kit which is custom embroidered for On The Rivet bike shop. Also on her handlebar sits a bell and a Topeak smartphone dry bag holder.
I'm very proud of my wife tackling her first bike commute. I need to remember that Joye will do things on her terms when she's good and ready and I love her for that. As the gray hairs on my chin increase over time, I pray that her love for the bicycle continues as well, no matter what genre of riding she embraces!