12 June 2010

UtilityCycling dot org: Learning to ride

When I got my first teaching job here in Flagstaff, seventeen years ago, at the school where I used to teach (as of June 8), it was for a fifth grade position that had just been vacated by a woman named Sarah; there's still stuff in my closet with her name on it.

A couple of years after that, I started working at the bike shop.  Around the same time they hired me to work on the sales floor, they also hired a nice, quiet high-school-aged kid named Chris as a mechanic-in-training.

Back in the day, Chris' friend Josh visited him at the shop occasionally and he often rode bikes with us after-hours, and early on Tuesday mornings now and then, too.  For a short while, Josh's sister Melanie also worked at the bike shop.

Sarah is Josh and Melanie's mom.

And now, it just so happens, I'm doing a little work for Josh.

It's a small town.

Josh, who's by now all grown-up and one of the cleverest people I know, invented a rig called The Cello a few years ago, adapting a B.O.B Trailer for fully self-contained travel.  It's quite a thing.  But even Josh admits: it's got limited appeal in an altogether too-limited market.  Still, there's no denying: it's dang clever.  And, perhaps fatefully, the design and marketing experience he gained by working hard to bring The Cello to market helped him become very familiar with the bike-trailer industry.

So, a few years later, being as clever as he is, and seeing an interesting niche in the marketplace, he started-up a little online retail company out of his garage called Bike Trailer Shop, selling all sorts of essential, esoteric, and hard-to-find trailer and travel gear for bikes.  Not-surprisingly, Bike Trailer Shop has done quite well; it's grown to the point where Josh has hired several additional employees, moved his warehouse operations into a much larger location downtown, and expanded into the Bike Bag and Kid's Bike markets, too.

Josh has begun to weave all these aspects of his many business ventures together, quite naturally, under a large umbrella covering all aspects of what you might call Cycling With A Purpose.  Among his most recent endeavors is a new information-based website called UtilityCycling.org.

Some time ago Josh asked me if I'd be interested in contributing to Utility Cycling once in a while, focusing on my experiences riding with my kid and together as a family.  I was flattered, of course.  And stoked to get some real work writing productively (that is, not just writing narcissistically on my own blog) about bikes and such.  But as happens, life got busy, one thing led to another, and my first 'deadline' got back-burnered for more than a month, while Josh waited patiently for me to clear a little room on my plate.

My former classroom 
Well, summer's here at last! My classroom's closed-up and almost ready to move to my new place: Marshall Magnet Elementary School. Finally, my plate feels a bit less crowded!  And so, just a few days ago, I actually got around to writing my first piece for Josh's website.

And here it is: Learning To Ride... at UtilityCycling.org.


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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey