Friday, May 29, 2009

A Totally Different Sign of Spring

Nope, not bunnies or goslings or flowers or any sort of flora or fauna at all. This is about bicyclists! It's that time of year... we're having sustained periods of warm, sunny weather, which leads folks to reach into their garage or shed and pull out their bicycles that have sat idle through the colder weather.

As a cyclist, that means that I suddenly have a lot more company on the roads and trails when I ride. Where I used to have the multi-use rail trail pretty much to myself in the cold of February, I now have lots of other cyclists, runners, walkers, rollerbladers, etc. to share it with. This is both good and bad, as you might guess. It's nice to see other folks out enjoying the weather and the joy of zooming along on a bike. On the other hand, some people just don't understand trail etiquette. I've covered this in the past, so I won't belabor it, but it does drive me a little crazy when other riders rip past me close at high speed with nary a warning. Ah well.

Another sure sign of spring is the sudden uptick in repair work at our shop! Every year, we try to put the word out to folks that December through February is the best time to bring in your bike for service... much faster turnaround time in winter. Yet without fail, there's always a period of a couple of weeks where it seems everyone in northern VA woke up and realized they own a bicycle and it hasn't been service in a year or more. Last Saturday I started the day telling folks they could have their bikes back by the following Thursday... four hours later we had pushed it back to a week AFTER that! Most of our customers are pretty understanding about it, but now and then we get someone who just doesn't get it. I've even had people, upon hearing the time estimate, go to another shop, only to return a little while later to say that shop had an even longer turnaround time. Ah well, we do the best we can to do the work as quickly as possible, but it's a challenge to keep up this time of year.

But it's so much fun to help folks get back on the bike and out enjoying themselves. While a lot of our customers come back year after year for an annual service, we also get some every year who tell me they haven't been on the bike in years, and now they want to get some exercise, or save some gas money, or just enjoy themselves. I love those sorts of situations most of the time.... someone rediscovering the joy of an old pastime, often on an older, beloved bike from their youth. Sometimes it's tough... the bike can sometimes be really in bad shape from neglect and age... but most of the time, with a little patience and time and money, we can bring the bike back into running order to give many miles of pleasure to the owner. It's always a joy to see the smile on someone's face when they take that first spin around our parking lot after we've fixed up their bike.

1 comment:

Hua said...

Hi Tim,

I definitely agree that Spring brings more activity in the bike lane and that it is essential that everyone is conscientious of available space and speed. I'm Hua, the director of Wellsphere's HealthBlogger Network, a network of over 2,000 of the best health writers on the web (including doctors, nurses, healthy living professionals, and expert patients). I think your blog would be a great addition to the Network in the Biking community, and I'd like to invite you to learn more about it and apply to join at Once approved by our Chief Medical Officer, your posts will be republished on Wellsphere where they will be available to over 5 million monthly visitors who come to the site looking for health information and support. There’s no cost and no extra work for you! The HealthBlogger page ( provides details about participation, but if you have any questions please feel free to email me at