Park Tool School – and we blog about it again!

 first PTS

Close to 10 months back, a serendipitous conversation with Arvind Ganesh of Happy Earth, (the guy responsible for Park Tool being available in the country) about our plans to do DIY workshops turned what we used to call, in our corporate days, “win-win” 🙂

He was looking for an LBS to conduct the Park Tool School and we were planning to put together the curriculum for a workshop. And our love for everything blue, white and Park Tool is too well-documented! So, it was on! We got our eager little hands on the Park Tool instructor’s manual and went all out. In a month, we were good to go!

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Pavan and Nikhil are greatly placed to lead these sessions. Pavan’s stint as a trainer and his natural flair for being succinct and Nikhil’s deliberate and specific communication style are their strengths. Top that off with the fact that both of them just absolutely love teaching and sharing their experiences with a curious audience means, they look forward to the monthly sessions of Park Tool School.

We start with going through the parts of a bike.

 

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(Image courtesy: http://christopheryardin.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/bicycle_parts_labeled.jpg)

We go then, part by part, talk about tyres, tubes, types of valves, punctures, wheels, chains, cleaning them, derailleurs, cassettes, cranks, the frame, braking system, how to maintain all of these. Now, obviously, neither do you want to read about it all, when you can watch someone talk about it nor do I have the energy to transcribe 3.5 hrs of talking 🙂 So, suffice to say, lots of great info on the basics of bike maintenance, with oodles of “this has happened to me and this is how I dealt with it in real life”. For instance, how do you mark a puncture in the middle of nowhere, if you don’t have a pen handy.

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We take a break to refill our audience with coffee (really good coffee, may we remind our blog readers for the 4,532th time) and biscuits.

 

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We play games like “Guess the cycle and Pavan’s weight”. Okay. Kidding, kidding!! 🙂

 

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We spend a lot of time watching and talking and asking questions and answering them

 

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Oh. Watch a couple of short videos on what you can expect –

Pavan explaining chain cleaning –

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And Nikhil talking about hubs –

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You hear a lot of stuff like –

“A good chain should feel kind of like silk”, “the job of a derailleur is to derail the chain”, “dude, you are making me feel myself up”

And finally, with a 10% off on all Park Tool products, we sign off and retire to one of our favourite things on earth 🙂 Lunch!!

So who’s up for the next round?

 

 

It’s a pity I don’t have a picture from my childhood like this –

 

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That’s pretty much how it started for me – my dad fixed up this (hand-me-down kids MTB from the US) bike which was in a deplorable state – and it went from purple and rusty to fire engine red and spiffy.

With the new cycle, off we went to the tree lined streets of his office campus and he ran behind me as I tried figuring out to balance the bike. He let me ride by myself for a few moments at a time, telling me when he was going to let go and when he had the bike again. He has felt anxious countless times when I cycled to dance class, to school, to buy groceries… and certainly so in more recent times, but he never lets it show.

Cut to 32 odd years later, Dad started saying how he would enjoy having a ‘good’ cycle. The store is a stone’s throw away from home and Dad has been in and out of here too frequently. So, one day, he came in as customer. And he walked off with a fire engine red Fuji MTB. He teetered off on the bike, with the unfamiliarly high saddle height… and I stood at the gate watching him go, trying not to feel anxious.

Funny, how life comes a full circle.

Having an outdoorsy, sporty dad is the best deal in town! Or so I think. Mine has played Badminton and Table Tennis pretty much all of his life.

Dad cycling

He is 67 years old this week, he cycles to his club, plays for a couple of hours, cycles back. No rest days, no excuses, no “I’m tired today”… He has 2 stents in his heart from an angioplasty last year – all that seems to have come out of that exercise is even more chutzpah!

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And that is a big reason why it is normal for me to spend my Sunday morning crewing for my cyclist pals at the BBCh Nandi race this morning and head for a run when the sun comes down in a couple of hours. And normal for my brother to be running the Everest challenge with his team at the Skyscraper dash at the same time. And perfectly okay for him to do this during work –

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And anyone who says, “It made sense to be an outdoorsy dad back in the day.. with the kind of pressures on time these days…”, please meet –

 

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the 150 cyclists from BBCh this morning –  25% of the bunch would be dads? A couple that come to my mind, first blush are Arvind and Sathya, whom I ran into at the race. Add the few hundred running dads who have been posting pics from this morning’s runs with half a dozen running groups out there.

Oh… and another one of my favourite dads –

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Pavan not only takes his daughter on dad-daughter cycle rides… to Mysore, so she can get used to riding on the road without fear of traffic, he occasionally brings her to the store, so she understands his work.

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And he doesn’t just stop being paternal with Anisha – from piggyback rides to Riyaz to inciting rebellion in the store against being grown up, to gentling someone into understanding or accepting an idea or a thought, this one is universal papa!

 

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Dads, I think, are the first leaders we meet. We do not do as they say but do as they do. Or, in Umberto Eco’s more eloquent words –

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”

So, thanks dad, for the love for fresh air, the need to be busy, for enjoying muscles aching from exercise, for the love for cycling and laughing a lot.

 

(And that’s how you spend time at the store when the Yajamaans have taken off for a brief post race respite)

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Last evening ended late with complicated car sharing schemes for this morning’s BAR TTT.

The day started at 5am, with everyone catching up, loading cycles into cars and heading out to Hosakote.

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The teams were

1. Nikhil, Pavan and Barefoot Bala
2. Riyaz (his first race), Ravi and Chirag

The race was awesome fun.

Now, this post isn’t about the race itself. Except that 4 people yelled “it’s the most fun!!!” since morning.

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Once the boys returned to the store, it all started. Pavan was beginning to regret not managing to restock sunscreen. He proceeded to try and bring body temperature down. He managed to scandalise his family that dropped by for a quick visit.

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After the wife and kid ran away screaming, they got down to lunch.

As usual, we fielded customer calls during lunch and answered with great alertness.

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Pavan got second wind but Nikhil was complaining about his Achilles heels – his eyes – feeling tired. So…

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The young are resilient, so they say. Our youngest one was all energy.

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Nikhil figured a little Wiggle therapy might help. So he got on what we call “Yajaman mode”.

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And then it was unapologetic siesta time everywhere. “If a customer walks in now…”

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As these bits of text flit across my keyboard, normalcy (or what passes for it) is returning.

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If by Zatopek’s reckoning, in every race, we die a little, these boys paid in full. Now, it’s resurrection time.

We’ll leave you with a caption from Pavan’s tee, which is true of us.

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Remember those picnics from childhood?  You know you are going someplace fun. You know it will be great. There will be food, laughter, friends.. all that is good in life. This morning felt like that for us.

False starts: Check! Like someone always delays the start of picnic because they have forgotten something at home and you have to double back… Riyaz and Faizan (that’s our teenager frequent customer who has a BMX bike, and who was coming with us to Cycle Day) forgot their helmets in the store. So we opened the store again, went back for helmets… and set off.

Papa promises food: Check! Pavan promised Riyaz chai if we got moving. So we got moving. 200 metres down, we stopped at Taj for chai. Taj Tea Stall, that is.

Then we finally set off, pointing towards places we know (Pepper Cafe. “Remember the crab soup we had that one time?” BMS School, “Riyaz! Our school” – Riyaz went to the same kindergarten that I had… only there’s a close to 20 year difference between the 2 occurrences, “Desmonds. Long time no Desmonds. We have to all come back here once”).

Lots of interesting incidents on the way: Check! For example, at Lavelle Road, we overtook a cute kid on a cycle- he must be about 10 years old – and he raced us all and overtook us. Pavan got competitive and…. er… nothing 😀 No seriously, we all hung back and appreciated the kid’s saddle height and form and praised his parents for good thinking. Here’s the guy –

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We got to Jayanagar and started missing Nikhil very keenly. We were depending on Pavan for directions and while the man looked very confident, we kept wondering. Directions, isn’t his strong suite. In fact, his keen sense of direction is more like Lord Rataxes –

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But we don’t cast aspersions on the direction sense of our fearless leader. He led us true. And we were at Cycle Day before you could say Bob Crankerson.

At Cycle Day, we surveyed everything in under 10 seconds and took off to take care of first things first: breakfast!! We saw the largest contingent at Cycle Day today – Team Nandan.

Fun at the event: Check! Back in the middle of things, we got announced to go up on stage. Pavan took centre stage to talk about Buying a Bike 101 for the second time around at Cycle Day.

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He spoke about the 3 kinds of bikes and asking the question “what do I want the bike for” to be the guiding principle for the purchase. With Women’s Day around the corner, there was focus on women & cycling. He spoke about what are women specific bike buying tips. He handed the mic over to me to talk about safety. The essentials I spoke about were staying visible to traffic (lights, bright/ reflective clothing), keeping your cycle safe (cable lock and cycle locked to something), same rules apply as non-cycle commute: all rooted in common sense (ride in the day time/ ride with someone but don’t make your safety their responsibility/  tell someone what route you are taking/ inform someone upon reaching destination…)

Goosebump factor: check! Pavan was asked to introduce our old and much-admired friend, Mr. Janardhan.

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Well into his 80s, this wonderfully energetic man rides everywhere (including to Srirangapatna to run KTM and cycle back after a day of rest).

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Mr. Janardhan was very inspiring – he spoke about being diagnosed with epilepsy and how he refused to take medicines and healed himself by sheer will and a lot of sweat. He spoke about his half and full marathon achievements and about the few thousand kms he has already done… and his audacious plan to cycle the distance between the earth and the moon. What was truly spine-tingling: “I have another 160,000 km to go. I am confident of finishing that”. What. A. Man!!

Countless others enjoying themselves: check! There were kids playing some badminton-like thing. There were kids with hula hoops. And some people trying out a skateboard variant. And lots of kids who were picking it up quick!

 

There were many kids of all ages cycling about with the kind of mad abandon that transported me to my childhood.. that look on their faces, when they know with certainty that they can experience this heady freedom of “my own vehicle” while a parent or two were within hailing distance, just in case.

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We saw a bunch of other interesting things. There was a kid with a chopper like cycle. Another with a high, penny farthing of sorts. Both were being given out to other kids to try.

 

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There was a Dad with his 2 obviously thrilled and squealy girls riding pillion that my camera wasn’t quick enough to catch –

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There were kids in racing gear and there was the installment from the last time… only, we figured it’s face. specially the hair,  resembled Rishabh a bit. So, we’re calling it Rishabh, going forward. Affectionately, call it Bob.

 

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We headed out… Riyaz and I suspect we came back via Mysore… with you-know-who being in charge of the route. As we were heading out of Jayanagar, Pavan made one of his famous stops… the story is charmingly illustrated in pictures here…

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Having once again earned his name, Gopi, he set off as the leader of our little brigade… and soon enough, we were back at the store. And the rest of the day is business as usual.

The fun that was Cycle Day is etched in our minds as a memorable experience, once again!

 

Continuing the story of our rebirth/ rebranding… this one is how our logo came about.

Once we figured out the name, the next step was to finalise the logo.

We turned to Vinod Sebastian.

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(All pictures stolen from facebook with scant regard to ownership. We hope Vindo doesn’t mind. We call him Vindo. For reasons long forgotten. He worked with us at The Fuller Life and before that, he has been Nikhil’s friend from school.)

Vindo is an early convert cyclist, believes in the simple life, loves the outdoors, has lived in jungles, is an organic farmer, is  super athletic and is Superdad.

That’s a Vindo montage for you –

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In order of appearance, let us explain the pics – Nikhil & Vindo, circa 2009. Pic stolen from Ganga. Ching the dog and Aadi the son.  A rare pic where all of us are there 🙂 Pavan in green, Vindo & Mon in blue, Niks in yellow)

We figured we have to give Vindo enough ammo to be getting on with. So, we set out to look up logo lore. Research is everything, after all.  And boy, did we go all out! We learnt this –

There are different kinds of logos –

Wordmark (like Google. Where the word itself is the logo),

Lettermark (like IBM. Where the initials are the logo),

Brandmark (like, Mercedes. Where the most recognizable thing is the symbol that goes with the logo),

Combination mark (text + symbol. Like pizza hut),

Emblem (text inside symbol, like Harley Davidson)

 

Then we gave Vindo some guidelines –

Some of the guidelines we thought of

·        The logo unit can only have CRANKMEISTER part of it and the Bicycle Works can be a descriptive line below it in a plainer font.

·        Less is more

·        Bright contrasting colours

·        Solid colours, no gradients so that it is easy to print. Also fewer colours will be good.

·        Not cluttered so that it renders itself well when small

·        Adjectives to describe the logo

o   Strength

o   Upmarket

o   Conviction

o   Quality

o   Expertise

  • Punch!

So we looked at designs and looked at colours…

cbw9cbw8

 

 

And finally, we bolted down this –

Crankmeister Bicycle works - 851 x 315

 

You know what we love best about it – the little dot of the ‘I’ in bicycle’ that is grey and goes into the chain of the ‘M’ in Crankmeister. Something about it. Very grown up and meaningful.

If we get very famous and bigass, we’ll say stuff like, “oh, when we envisaged the logo, our thought process was that the synergy in our work – be it between our cycle sales vertical and service or be it the synergies between our customers, stakeholders and cycling community at large – should be an integrated part of our thinking and therefore our logo. By doing this, we have inextricably intertwined the inherent interplay between the interstitial intricacies of the internet and the interlaid errr… inaccuracies of the…umm.. intestine.”

Okay. If we sound like that, shoot us!

Aaaaaanyway, we figured out the final logo. Went out for some Shawarma (that’s our signature move. Celebrate important moments in life with Shawarmas)

And that is how the logo came about!

 

Off to the races

Posted by monica | Adventures, Races

OFF TO THE RACES

This blog begins with the caveat that it was put together by someone who doesn’t race, nor wants to. Any inaccuracies here are the writer’s and no reflection on the general awesomeness and tech-mech knowhow of the boys at the store.

 

ACTUAL START TO THE ARTICLE

The last month has been a flurry of excitement for Pavan & Nikhil, once they decided to take the plunge into the vibrant Bangalore bicycle racing scene. The guys decided to go for the Bangalore Amateur Racing’s TT first. It got moved by a week, due to the Vodafone cycling event, giving reason for more excitement and more nerves. Nikhil switched his cycle from fixie to roadbike specs. Pavan has been taking his brand new roadbike out more often than usual… the excitement has been on the rise for a while.

So off we went. We being Pavan, Nikhil and Karishma who were racing and yours truly, who couldn’t believe, in retrospect, that after 7 years of active cycling, and going for every RFL organised run, I still hadn’t been to experience a cycle race, namma ooru style.

At 5.15am, we loaded the cycles on the SeaSucker rack at the store and shakily set off. Shakily, because Nikhil and Pavan both are nursing colds and were heard saying stuff like “Berida is a dice bige to burjase” to customers last night).

On our way out, we saw (and waved at and cheered) quite a few cyclists on the way out. Goes without saying, most of them beat the automobile to the start line. From long experience, we know this is normal 🙂

 

 

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At Emerald Isle resorts, we got registered first.

 

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Treated ourselves to the carnival like atmosphere we know precedes a race. Lots of people warming up. This particular scene is really evocative to me. It felt like I had travelled back in time to 2007 and one of my early GKVK runs. One of RFL’s fortnightly runs was organised outside GKVK and the start point looked exactly like this, with lots of cars parked on the side and people warming up on the service road.

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A few stretches later, (and regrettably, not having warmed up enough…) the guys were ready to go. The organisers announced that we were good to start. Much appreciation of the kinds of cycles there – there were Cervelos and Treks and Ridleys and a BMC Time Machine.

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Lined up behind about 40 cyclists, who were taking off every few seconds, the guys wore an all-too-familiar expression. I remember only too well, that exhilarating but “oh man, what’s coming up next?” feeling that you’ll probably remember from a fast slide down at the playground as a kid. The pre race start expression is similar to that (my experience is drawn from being at the start line of an RFL running event, but the feeling, I’m sure, is much the same). The guys were just thrilled to be somewhere with so many others who like the same stuff – and all through the route, kept shouting appreciation and encouragement to all.

 

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Some last minute banter and bonhomie done and they were all set to go

 

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And having seen the three of them off, I hung about around the organisers. I listened to their banter about cycling and aspects of race organising and inside jokes (all sports have them. There is a vocabulary for each sport, that only people pursuing it will appreciate fully).

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The enjoyment that the people organising seemed to be having, just hanging around with each other was lovely to see. Then people started looking for returning cyclists. More of the same experience assailed me, as the first of the cyclists returned. I listened to them recognise cyclists by their riding style, by the expected finish time etc.

I got talking to Deepak Mhasvade, long time runner and cyclist, and totally missed taking a picture of Nikhil at the finish line. By the time I realised it was Nikhil, racing to the finish, I got distracted by the strength in display. I am a big fan of hanging around watching strong finishes at runs – there’s something about people giving their best effort that is so so inspiring. By the time I finished admiring the boy, he was past the finish line and a blur in the distance. And my phone hanging about uselessly in my hand. But here’s a placeholder pic, Niks and a promise of better pics next time!

 

 

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Pavan returned next, a few seconds after Nikhil did, looking strong as well.

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And Karishma returned soon afterward, with Pavan & Nikhil riding alongside for encouragement. She looked really strong as well.

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Quickly enough, announcements with winners and their timings happened. The first of the under 25 yr old guys finished at 0.50 mins, the 25-35 yr old winner did 0.53 and the over 35 yrs had real stiff competition, with a .49 finish (and a third place of 0.52, making them faster than the younger category)! One of the guys will blog about the kinda great timings that happened and the significance of it all.   I know enough about the timing to know it is truly amazing and competitive and gets the good folks I saw today put their best efforts. I don’t know enough to comment with any more authority, so I shall desist 🙂

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And then it was time to put the cycles back on the roof rack and head back. Pavan & Nikhil took a detour to admire and drool over a parked BMW R1150 GS Adventure (I just asked them what that bike was. It’s not like I know the name of the bike either :D… and as I type this, Nikhil says, “oh oh oh ohhh. What a bike!!” Pavan says, “my claim to fame is that my arse of a brother has it and actually let me ride it this time”. Nikhil says, “my claim to fame is I know Pavan who has a brother who has it” Clearly, this bike is sort of a big deal).

We somehow made our way back to town, dying of hunger as we were (we only had a kilo each of bananas, grapes, a thermos of hot chocolate and strawberries with caramel sauce – all put in the car for recovery purposes. But hey, I am not going to complain :D)

 

 

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We spent an enjoyable hour with an awesome breakfast at Daddy’s Deli, superb conversations (including this one about Ashwin Bala – as those in the know would be able to immediately discern from the pic above… Bala, we all love you!!), running the always amazing Sunitha Krishnamurthi (Sunitha, we really really love you loads!), it was time to head to the store and business and all that serious stuff.

But…. not before one last pic of the bravehearts who went out to do something new today!

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To paraphrase Bogart in Casablanca, this is the beginning of something beautiful. Stay tuned, y’all, for more race stories in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CYCLE STORE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD BE AS GLORIOUS!

 

Yep. We HAD to invoke the bard, to start that blog post. Had to 😀

 

You might recall, we announced sometime back that Pavan & Nikhil decided to fly solo with the store. One of the first things we had to deal with, when re-setting up, is get a new name for our venture. We went through the gamut – science, pop science, psychology, pop psychology, art… name it! Here is that story –

We went back to the drawing board – which had a lot of names. We trawled through many names, lots of which we had liked but had discarded 1.5 years back. Out of the 50 odd names shortlisted, these were up for argument (oh wait. We meant discussion :P) –

Bikesmiths

House of Cranks

Cy-Co

Cycleops/ Cyclops

Then, we thought of other names we might want to add to this old shortlist – and came up with

The Cog Father

Two Wheeler Dealers

Bikeocracy

Culture of Speed

Next, with our experience from a year into the business, we came up with names that we thought made made more sense –

Buy Cycle

Cyclogical

CyclOn

VeloCity

BeSpoke Bicycle Works

Crankmeister

Outspokin

Two Guys Bike Shop

Dr. Wheelgood

We also looked at the no-no’s of naming a business. Apparently, making the right impression, meaningful and complex names were important. So we voted out

Sri Venkateshwara Cycles

PaNic (Pavan-Nikhil. Get it?) Cycle Mart

Gutter Bunnies

Stark Industries (Apparently, you can’t take other people’s names. Huh!)

PUNTER (Pavan Und Nikhil’s True Engineering Room)

Arnold Shivajinagar Bicycles

While we liked BuyCycle and CycleLogical at first blush (Hey. Play on words. We’re big fans of those. We’ve a now cross-office group called PunGents where we send each other groanworthy jokes. So… yeah! We flipped for these 2 names right off the bat)

What these made up in fun and cute, they lacked in the grease-stained, growl-worthy department. Crankmeister seemed to leap out and grab us by the collective throats. It had crank, so cycle part reference was taken care of. It had a Germanic feel to it, which adds to the ‘we like’ element. Add ‘Bicycle Works’ and that gives us the sense of ‘this is what we do’: we build bikes, we service them, we introduce cyclists to a new bike they can fall for afresh, we induct new cyclists to the possibility of a lifetime of velo love.

And with that, allow us to introduce to you the full and euphonious name of our new dream:

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CRANKMEISTER BICYCLE WORKS

<Applause!!>

 

Next change: The unveiling (and the making) of the logo. Stay tuned!

 

 

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE

 

It has been almost seven years of being on the saddle for me, now. In another three months, my cycle will be 7 years old. Aha. Great moment of pride. Cast in shadow by the plain fact that my last year’s rides were insignificant enough to not merit mention.

I checked my Garmin data. 58 rides. Just about 15% of my days in 2013 went in rides. And this is the year when I helped set this store up, helped sell a few cycles and the idea of cycling. That just sounds wrong, doesn’t it?

So, here it is. The bare-it-all on the big WHY.

As I ran through the ‘rationalisation’ for it, the angel and devil on the shoulder trick played out –

 

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Devil talk – Angel talk –
First, the “But I have so much to do” trap. At work, I got charge of an extra function. That means double the time, no shortcuts. That also means spend early mornings thinking of work, while I should be out riding. Nice excuse. Doesn’t fly, really. Whatever happened to think on the fly. While riding. Fresh air, nice fresh thoughts. And hey. We all know – you get the best ideas when cardioing.
Next, the “I have many stops to make on the way” ruse. I did often have to stop at some store or meet someone or do an interview on my way in or out of work. There is no reason to not take the cycle for these, except for the fear of, “what if I come out and my cycle is not there?” The answer to which is always, a philosophical, “show me the guarantee card on life” Okay. I’ve snubbed myself twice and I’m not even halfway into this blog post. This is going great!
“Hey. I had to go to two different offices” excuse. Pull the other one. The second office was on my commute back home. A cycle instead of a bike wouldn’t have made a difference.
“I was taking a break” That’s what they all say.

(You might have noticed, the Angel is a bit of a badass. That happens often :D)

After going through some jujube reasons…

No. Not this - jujubes

Pic courtesy: www.bubblews.com

Think Rajinikanth. No ring bell? Watch this. Jujube arrives at 1.21.

Diversion over. Now come back to angsty post!

So, I went back to my Garmin to look at rides in 2013. By March, most of my rides for the year were over . By the end of March, I was spending about 40% of my time riding – commutes & long rides. That sounds about right – the rest would be running & resting. So why did it all come to a screeching halt? One of the ride summaries of my commute had the answer – and the past came tumbling back with technicolour clarity (or should I say Imax now? Hang on. Did I just give myself away as a Velociraptor from the Triassic age? Oh well.)

 

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Pic courtesy – funfactsntruestories.blogspot.com

I remember with great clarity. 100 metres from work, I had 2 bikes behind me, 2 ahead and another bike came in full speed, without warning from a road on the left. Guys ahead of me braked, I cursed hard and braked, guy behind me braked and still hit me. Cycle almost fell but at the Bangalore speeds we go at, no biggie. Nobody hurt, I apologized to the guy ahead for cursing. He apologized back. The guy behind me apologized for hitting me, I said not his fault and apologized back… basically, very gentlemanly behavior, all round. Heart beating fast, with wobbly knees, I reached office and forgot all about the incident.

In the evening, I was riding back to the store, when, just outside Ambara opposite Ulsoor lake this thing happened. There was a lot of traffic on that narrow lane, as it always is, post 4pm. I overtook a couple of slow-moving bikes on the left and came up to the right of an auto. I was still safely on the left side of the road. And the road ahead was clear enough… when without warning, a yellow board Innova (or maybe a Sumo. One of those big guys) in the opposite side of the road swerved to his right to overtake someone and was straight in my path with two car lengths to go. I braked hard – the only thing I am good at doing, in panic situations. And this guy is still coming at me, on collision course. The auto is on my left, blocking an escape route and I just don’t have enough time to go full right – there are two vehicles on overtake mode there. I look back left, see with blurred eyes, the bamboo walls of Ambara and while a random thought flits across, “that’s the last thing I am ever going to see”, I lunge left, just sheer panic and survival in mind… and miraculously, the auto gathers speed, goes past. I graze the back of the auto and stumble clear. The car whizzes past me on the right.

The auto guy stops, the bike guys behind stop and ask if I am okay. They curse the crazy cab guy. They asked if I got the car’s number. I managed to say something to the effect of, “I only caught some numbers which may be years of my life passing my, as my life flashed before my eyes”.

I was grateful for the sympathy from people, someone nicely game me water from my own bike 🙂 and patted me on the back, asked if wanted to call someone and waited till I wobbled off in the right direction.

I decided not to tell anyone at home about the incident and scare them. And decided against telling the boys at work – I’d either get some well-meaning advice about riding safely and how not to take risks, or I’d get concerned masked as anger, which I needed about as much as a fish needed a bicycle just then. I managed to delay the reaction till it was time to hit the sack. And then, turns out, I hid the fear along with the incident and just got gun shy. For the rest of the year!

This isn’t my first skirmish with a road incident – I have been mugged and dragged off my bike (scooter) a few years back. My pillion rider was in the hospital overnight and I had a knee injury that took 6 months to completely heal. Compared to that, this ought to be tame. But things aren’t usually that simple.  After a lifetime of being on a cycle, this was the closest I came to, to being snuffed out. And the fact that it should happen when on a beloved cycle unnerved me. It brought back an incident Pavan & I faced when out on a ride four years back – he saw a bus run over a man on a cycle and that man died almost instantly. I just kept remembering that incident almost every night. And that informed my decision to not ride, the next morning.

So, folks who might just be reading this post. We come to the most important part of the story.

This year, I’ve already spent about 25% of my cardio days cycling.

What did it take me to get there?

Encountering the past, going over it, give thanks for my lucky escape, and put it to rest.

Understanding that shit happens and will continue to happen.

There is not guarantee card on this fragile thing called life.

All I know is, I have this precious day to make good. And looking back, I didn’t make velo good for a large part of 2013.

I end this post with some reminders to self –

Stuff will knock you down, literally or otherwise.

You owe it to yourself to get up and move on.

It’s okay to take time over it.

Forgive yourself. Often. Being your own harshest critic is overrated.

Ride on! Ride on!

🙂

And with that, ladies & gentlemen, this post is a wrap!

 

Nikhil’s Surly Cross–Check is our favourite guinea-pig. It’s always being subjected to our close, often damaging attentions.

 

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A case in point – just last week, his Hospital Foam X-Check ( to give its full and euphonious name) was in fixie mode. All-City flip-flop hub, 16-cog track ring, flat bars, 45-tooth FSA single crank, and a pimp-mah-ride bright crimson 1/8” Origin8 track chain.

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Now, with the BAR events looming near, Nikhil decided he needs a road bike. In our usual state of penury, and with the store swallowing all our funds like some insatiable but much-beloved mechanical mastiff, he opted to morph the X-Check.

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Some serious rummaging around in his parts bin, and we came up with an 8-speed , single crank, cantilever-brake, Fulcrum-wheelset & drop-bar equipped roadie  that  took maybe an hour and a half of serious work. And the really fun part? You can see the fixie somewhere deep inside peeping out.

 

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Four months ago, I knew for the first time that The Fuller Life, the company I work with and CFL might part ways. It was a perfectly logical, business decision – the parent company had to focus on businesses that were core to it. Sure, my head gets that. But thanks to human circuitry not being quite straightforward, the decision smote the region of my heart.

 

I have been at the store from the get go (quite literally. From that first kitchen floor wash with sudsy water), to spending weekends subbing for someone or learning how to interact with customers, learnt the high of having a customer come close to buying a cycle… and the quick down of disappointment when they take off to ‘explore more options’, learnt to work the POS system and make invoices and hoped to learn how to fix my own bike. And was all that to be in for sudden death?

 

And all this is just about me. I was worried about my pals in the business – some people I have known, liked and appreciated for long and some I met as a result of the business. Such huge affection for young Riyaz, for the gentle expression on Nasir bhai’s weatherbeaten face, for Rishabh’s unintelligible mutters amid which some really intelligent gems lurk (yep. Gems. Not germs :D) Nikhil & Pavan and all the smarts and wisdom and funnies they bring.

 

After months of lost sleep and uncontrollable boo-hoos later, it came to pass. Cyclists For Life and The Fuller Life were parting ways. After some discussions, it was decided that Pavan & Nikhil will buy over and run the business. While that meant a big phew for them, it also meant palpitations, raw fear and “What!! We’re cast adrift” kinda feeling. Any LBS in Bangalore will tell you (hell, any sports business in India will tell you) that this business ain’t for the folks looking to make bagfuls of money and walking away whistling. Try real estate for that. Or half a dozen other successful businesses. Great for them, really. It’s a pity we aren’t one of them. The one big reason we’re in this is for the passion for cycling. And the belief that we can make a difference to the changing cycling scene out here and can coax, cajole, play catalyst to cycling and feel satisfied in that achievement… and of course, some money that makes us not be in the red.

 

It doesn’t matter how many years of good quality HR you have done – axing four people’s work with you – even if they are going to find other, better ways of working – hurts like hell. Sure, that’s part of life but not an experience I’d want repeated. What this means for  me, is that while my official journey with the business as Head of HR, TFL is over, I intend spending some time helping with whatever needs doing – Christmas gifts or getting coffee jars or putting up description cards for cycles… and one hopes, the occasional independently handled sale. I like it! The future is full of cycles! So, read on, to see what is coming up next. So, expect some more blog posts from me 🙂

 

The store will be biding goodbye to Rishabh, who moves to doing comms (making videos – his first love – and some writing for RFL) with The Fuller Life, full time. We’re happy that Rishabh gets to go and do what he likes, with good people. We’re happy that he will be happy. And he will get weekends off. We also bid goodbye to Nasir bhai, our uber friendly source of stories – that is just breaking our hearts but we are learning from him to be stoic – in the last week, he has treated  us to food twice, by way of goodbye. And of course, those who truly touch your hearts are never too far away – and Nasir bhai has promised to arrive with food when we call him.

 

We have also bid farewell to RFL, who have moved back to mothership in Austin Town – now that is a parting that will pervade on us and drop a pall of loneliness (which, we hope to palliate with hopefully, lots of customers :D)

 

While the parting of ways has taken place, a lot of stuff is changing. Not just ownership and how the store looks but a bunch of other things: first up, a new name, tagline, logo are in the offing. That will start off the incorporation process. The website, the product mix, the people…

 

 

In the middle of all this uprooting, there pervades a sense of calm. On the positive side, we have had multiple blessings – the goodwill of a ton of people who heard about this and told us they were happy that we’re sticking on to the Bangalore landscape. We are grateful to The Fuller Life – the association might have been brief – but it was what helped us set this up in the real world. And the parting was gentlemanly. We are happy that we have warm and wonderful landlords in Suraj and Ashritha, who have treated us with amazing sweetness. We have friends and family that’s clambering over each other to invest, stock up our kitchen essentials, gift us a clock… name it!

 

These last few months have been, above all else, to use a cliche, a learning experience, a horizon-broadening, life-altering, spine-toughening experience. And we’re thrilled, having come out the other side, that we are still standing, our heads bloodied but unbowed. And we have the chance to fight another day (sorry about the sudden appearance of the war allegories… but it just felt right… survival is, after all, battle)

 

We look forward, with a smile on our faces, a rainbow in our hearts, with hope and confidence. Here’s hoping 2014 pushes us far forward in the path we embarked on, in 2013. Stick with us, for we take courage from our friends.