Tuesday, March 23, 2010

But I just met you...

Saturday was the usual schedule for me.  Now that the weather is warmer, I can get out on the group ride and then head back to the shop in time to open up at noon.  This saturday was no different.  We rode up Buffalo Cove, a small group of us broke off from the main group to head back early and Charles and I started changing and opening up the shop. 

At about 15 minutes before our opening time, an older gentleman tried the door by jerking it a few times, found it to be locked and then waited outside.  I hadn't changed out of my riding clothes yet (Charles was mid-wardrobe change), but I figured the guy must be looking for something in particular and I unlocked the door to let him in.

In our time here at Luna Cycles, we have observed a phenomenon that seems to be somewhat unique to this area: the 1st customer of the day (one who usually appears before opening time) is going to provide some sort of anecdotal moment that can be passed along for the enjoyment of others.  Now I apologize ahead of time if the gentleman who came by last Saturday is a relative of yours, but this story simply must be told.

The gentleman in question stepped through the opened door quickly with a sense of purpose to his step. 
"Good morning.  How can I help you?", I asked.
"Do you sell jock straps?", he replied.

Uh-oh, I thought, this is going to be weird.

"No sir.  Cyclists don't use jock straps. You should try a sporting goods store."

"I did that, but they just have the ones with the plastic cup.", he countered.

"Well, that's about the only place I can think of that would have something like that.  I can't really get anything like that from any of my suppliers."

"Well, let me tell you what I got.", he said. 

Okay, it would be unfair at this point to not say that all kinds of alarm bells were ringing in my head. "This is gonna be weird. This is gonna be weird..."

"I got one nut like this (holds up balled fist, makes strange face) and the doctor says I gotta have something to support it.", the gentleman explained.

Now, the image of that balled up fist being brandished before the yearning face of that man as he related such a personal medical condition provoked me to think: "TMI! TMI! TMI!"

"Well sir, I'm sorry I just don't know what I can do to help with that." I said in my best please-strange-possibly-crazy-with-pain-from-your-unsupported-exceptionally-overlarge-testicle-man stay calm and seek help elsewhere voice.

Charles chimed in with a few comments as he took bikes outside to lock up in front of the shop.  The gentleman left wondering aloud where he might be able to find the support he needed.  I went to the back to change clothes, spent from such an early and strange customer encounter.  After changing, Charles said, "Now I know why he came to a bike shop looking for a jock strap."


Charles proceeded to tell me that as the man was pulling out of the parking lot, he called Charles over to his car. (I think Charles must have been the kind of kid who was always eager to look at the puppies that strange men kept in the back of their windowless vans, but that is a story for another time- ed. ) As Charles approached the car, the old man proffered his current jock strap and pointing to the label, said, "See! It says 'BIKE' right on it!"

Friday, March 19, 2010


Today marks my 50th straight work day of bike commuting.  My estimated total mileage for commuting is about 500 miles.  I thought that this little personal milestone would be one that I could celebrate with my own little festival of one, but recent events have sobered that.

On Wednesday, Adam Little of Charlotte, was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident by a car traveling 60 mph as he rode to work.  I sent this email to my co-workers yesterday:
Dear HHS staff,

Yesterday in Charlotte, Adam Little, husband and father of two small children, was struck and killed while riding his bicycle to work.  Adam was struck from behind by a car traveling 60 mph. The vehicle then left the scene in a hit-and-run accident.  By all witness accounts, Adam was killed instantly.  The driver was apprehended within a very short time thanks to the diligence of the Law Enforcement officers on duty at the time.

I did not know Adam, but this hits very close to home for me.  Many of you know that I ride to school every day, good weather or bad and this Friday will mark my 50th straight commuting day to school (a total of 500 miles since the beginning of this year’s return to school).  While we good-naturedly think that I am a little “crazy”, I don’t think that my riding to work should constitute a life or death decision on my part, any more than your choosing to drive should.  Please take a moment to think about and talk about the rights AND responsibilities of cyclists on our roadways today as a way of honoring the memory of someone that none of us knew, but whose death was a tragedy nonetheless.

Rights AND Responsibilities of cyclists on roadways in NC:

Bicycles are legal vehicles under NC law and must comply with all traffic laws: traffic signals, stop signs, signaling for turns.

Bicycles must travel in the roadway (to the left of the white line, NOT the shoulder), in the same direction as other vehicle traffic.

Bicycles should stay to the right of the roadway as far as is reasonable and safe, but may occupy the ENTIRE lane if necessary.

Cars must pass vehicles (including bicycles) with a minimum safe distance of 2 ft.

A cyclist will only delay you a few seconds, if at all, so please be prudent and safe.  Remember that the life you risk is NOT your own!

Thank you,

Shawn Moore
I received several very positive and supportive responses from coworkers.  I also had a conversation with a coworker who travels on Hwy. 268 who remarked about how "dangerous" that road was and how cyclists "stay all grouped up" and how when she goes around curves that cyclists are "across the yellow line" in the oncoming traffic lane a lot.  I stayed calm and tried to explain to her some of the things that groups of cyclists do to maintain safety while riding with cars.  She wouldn't hear of it.  She steadfastly maintained a cars vs. bikes attitude and said that she knew that one day there wouldn't be anything she could do to avoid hitting a cyclist.

On an ESPN radio show, correspondent Tony Kornheiser recently exhorted his listeners to hit cyclists to show them that the roads are for cars.  "Don't run them down, but just tap 'em." were his words.  Unfortunately, we live in time where might makes right, and despite how despicable his words were, his co hosts laughed and threw out their cliched stereotypes as well in support.

As I explained to my coworker, if you see a cyclist do something like run a stop sign or a red light, that no more means that ALL cyclists are doing that than when a car does it and you extrapolate that ALL drivers do that.  We have to use our heads, each and every one of us, despite our living in a thinking optional, gut reaction is primary society.  We all bear responsibility in maintaining a positive relationship with the public as we ride in this area.  We are easily stereotyped and categorized as we are so recognizably different on the road.  Be vigilant and be lawful in what you do. 

I often get asked by coworkers and students why I ride to school every day.  There always seems to be some effort on their part to ascribe some deeper philosophical or political meaning behind the decision.  I always reply with "have you ever done something just because it was fun?"  That is what I feel every time I get on a bike - fun, as well as freedom; a sense of boundless freedom.

Every morning I strap on my Road ID, pause, and think about the real reason I am wearing it.  It is their for if I am injured while commuting to work, plain and simple.  Sobering to think that something as simple as riding a bicycle to get to where you want to go is a life or death decision.  It shouldn't be that way.  None of us deserves to be the lifelong regret of someone that results from their moment of inattentiveness, rudeness or impatience.

Many of you have come in to the shop and talked to me about commuting.  I want to encourage you again to get out there and do it.  The more of us out there, the more accepted we will be on the roads.
Stay safe out there, spread the word among all of your non-cycling family, friends and coworkers of our rights and responsibilities on the road, and always act like an ambassador of goodwill every time you are on the road.  And give me a wave if you see me out on the roads on my morning and afternoon commute - I'm the guy rockin' the jacket and tie on the sweet Globe Haul or the equally awesome Xtracycle (that is probably loaded down with groceries!).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Location. Location. Location.

Hi, my name is Shawn and I'm a SLOB. SLOB is an easy way to remember the mantra that we should all take into account: Support Locally Owned Businesses.

But why? Well, the biggest reason to support locally owned businesses (not including franchises, but only found here kind of businesses) is that far more of each dollar that you spend at a locally owned business stays in our economy. When we shop outside of Caldwell County, shop at chain stores or big box retailers, our county receives very little of that money. Shop on the internet and our county receives NONE of that money. In effect we export the precious dollars that we work so hard to earn.

So what is your role in all of this? You can do some pretty simple things to boost our local economy and improve what our city and county financial states are in by making the conscious effort to shop local. Don't assume that a local business doesn't have what you're looking for. Don't assume that a local business will be more expensive. All you have to do is ingrain the act of shopping local first in any situation. We often encounter people who assume that our products are more expensive than they can get on the internet. These people quickly realize that once they figure in shipping charges and labor charges for us to build or service the item, not only have they equaled or even exceeded our price on a similar item, but they have also settled for inferior quality to boot! A local owned business looks you in the eye when they deal with you, deals with you honestly and hopes that every transaction wins them a new customer relationship and all of the loyalty that entails.

Okay, I get it, now what? We and many other local businesses have joined the 3/50 Project. The idea is simple: each month support 3 locally owned businesses by spending a total of $50 between the 3. This simple act will ensure that 68% of your money returns to the local community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. This is 25% more money than what returns to the community when you shop at chain stores. I know that the sense of community is strong in our area, it is time that we start helping each other out in this simple and easy way.

Well, I'd love to help, but... We, the local business owners of this community bear responsibility in this movement as well. It is important that we act like businesses and not take the easy approach of closing when things are slow, not responding to customer feedback and requests, and the adherence to odd or inconsistent hours that some businesses follow. Our businesses and our customers must work together to transform our community into the thriving marketplace (with our own local flavor) that is commonplace in areas around us. We are surrounded by communities that get these ideas right. We must emulate the best of them, and improve on their weaknesses in order to make our community the destination for anyone living or traveling in our area.

It just takes YOU to start a trend!