This month is National Bike Month and I have mixed emotions about it.
I think it’s great to raise awareness for people to get out and ride a bike. I’m all for that, I’m also all for people exercising and not using gas.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to wake up, get ready for work and then commute 23-24 miles into the magical city of Birmingham.
What concerns me is the motorist that is late for work and suddenly hates the slow cyclist that’s going to make him even more late to work. Or that three or four people think “biking to work is a great idea!” and hop on a bike for the first time (or in a long time) with no knowledge of the road rules, no helmet or understands basic etiquette.
Or maybe a few folks decide “this is the month to buy a bike” and they go to WalMart, Dicks or Academy Sports to buy a mountain bike and then hit the trails only to have the bike not perform well or come apart causing injury.
What I think is the key ingredient here is bike-awareness. If you are new to the sport, haven’t ridden in a while or are looking for a new form of exercise – do some homework or let people help you which is better known as “your local bike shop.”
Here in Birmingham, we have several fine bike shops. I’ve made my acquaintance with all of them now and they are all fantastic with great staff and a wealth of knowledge. I’ve got very good friends at most of the shops and their friendships as well as what they’ve done for me is invaluable. All the bike shops here put on fantastic clinics to teach people the rules of the road, how to take a trail or how to jump giant logs. They are all active in the bike community and Birmingham is very fortunate to have them.
Cahaba Cycles is one local bike shop that sponsors a Thursday (advanced) and Friday (beginner) night ride. They have bikes you can demo and very knowledgable staff that can answer some of your questions. The cool thing to do would be to go visit them and say “I’m interested in biking, where do I go from here?” Then become aware and knowledgable during National Bike Month. The ass-hat thing to do would be go to Cahaba Cycles, pick their brains and then go order something off the internet or buy at a big box store after you got all that free consulting.
All local bike shops are wealth of information and you won’t find that at Wal Mart. Sure, you’ll find great savings there – but cheap comes with a price (like when your bike falls apart and you’re in the hospital with an injury and miss work).
So yes, go consider a bicycle. But also consider it from a local bike shop and not a big box store. With all this “support your local business” hoo-hah these days, here’s your chance to do your part.
Consider a bike and consider the local bike shop.