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 –

pavan vid

And Nikhil talking about hubs –

nikhil vid

 

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)

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!

 

Cycling, ladies and gents, can be very onomatopoeic. Especially, when one is explaining the mechanics of it. One always involves aural cues to explain to the audience, what they should look out for, re. various cycle parts.

Rishabh and I have a system of keeping an ear out for explanations from Pavan and Nikhil – who will be called Cacofonix and Euphonix respectively, for the rest of this post.

Cacofonix’s Clamouring

“Likely to have your frame going DRRRRRR”

“On a roadbike, your brake pads don’t have too much give. It just goes plakkk!”

“There is nothing else on earth like the sound of a bike. Like the CL 250. It makes a metallic sound… like nnn… dhinnnnn… dhinnn… dhinnnnn…”

“Listen to the Long haul Trucker’s chain… it has that lovvvvely mechanic sssrrrrrrrrrrrrr. A-ha!”

Euphonix’s Exclamations

“When your tyre sounds like this taktaktaktak – you know you might not have a puncture but certainly low air”

“At that point, your knees should be locked out, hips should not be moving side to side, like jagajagajaga like this.”

“The foddle. Er… the saddle forward…” (okay. That wasn’t truly in the spirit of things, but hey)

“Aiii! Ahhh. Ohhh. Nice wheels, those Fast Forward ones!”

“If you hear a sound like this – badabadabadabadabada, it is possibly the chain.”

“No, the Surly is more like zzzzzzzzrrrrrrrrrzzzz.”

“I was sooo happy with my bike, I was going faaaast, like zzzwwiiiiiiiiiii on the Ulsoor lake road and just past RBANMS, pataaaar! Next thing you know, I was on the road and all other vehicles were safely whizzing past gzzzzrrrrrrrrrrrrr at some distance”

Now if I say, “friends, cyclists, countrymen, lend me your ears”, you’ll probably happily hand ‘em over and not want ‘em back! 🙂

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Welcome to the sounds of the bike store!

Horn ok please ! 😉

 

Sur(e)ly this must be right !

For long, it didn’t make any sense – it was made of steel & it was expensive. Why would anybody buy an expensive steel frame when you can plonk down the same amount and get yourself an aluminum frame?

And if it’s really that good, why don’t I see it more often? The last time I saw someone riding a Surly was near the NGV gate and this was a good six months back. Was it one of those things that the whole world has agreed to agree that it’s good and if you disagree, you were wrong?

So when Nikhil got himself a Cross Check frame and built a single speed out of it, I decided to test a Surly – like once and for all and secretly hope that I would be one of those people who would disagree.

I was wrong. Like Bush Jr. on Iraq and WMD.

I have 2 bikes – a Trek 4300 & a Cervelo S1.  So it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two about frames and how a good one should respond. That was in case you were wondering why you should even read further.

One Frame Unlimited Rides – The first thing you will notice about the Cross Check frame is how versatile it is. It’s a frame that can built into multiple configurations – single speed, fixie, touring, road endurance, urban commuting – you name it, there are provisions on the frame that caters to any set up you can imagine.

It’s full of steel – like, quite literally! It’s on the heavy side but so is everything made up of steel. But on the go, it soaks up all the road vibrations. The configuration I tested was a flat bar single speed one. It behaved much like how an MTB would and should. There is patch near Austin Town where people who want to travel to Leh can go and acclimatize for road conditions. The Cross Check handled it amazingly well.

I am 5.9 and I was on 54cm frame.  It was a perfect fit for me – not too tight or too long. The advantage of running a tight geometry is that you can push it hard and feel it respond. Because it was a single speed, I had to dance on the pedals to get over inclines. When I did that, it didn’t respond, it played Beethoven’s 9th. I could feel every single Newton that my legs could deliver being converted to forward motion.  In traffic, the frame behaves like Messi on a football field – you can weave through pretty much anything without having to feel insecure. The bike felt centered and it more than made up for my unstable core.

It usually takes a good 40 minutes for me to make the 9.8 km trip back home on my 4300 during peak time traffic. The cross check got me home in 31 minutes flat! I am fairly certain that I didn’t put down the hammer on the cross check nor was the traffic any forgiving on the day I tested it. It’s just that I was riding a frame that was built for an efficient ride.

When I reach home, I go inside and close the door. Whether I ride my Cervelo or 4300, that’s what I normally do. But the ride back home on the cross check was different. It was so much fun riding it that I went up, dropped my bags, came back down and I continued my ride. It was as if reaching home was part of the journey and not the journey itself. It was as If I had discovered something new that day and I didn’t want to let go of it. It was as if the multiple choices of my life had finally found the right answer and the answer came colored in hospital foam green.

It was the most fun thing I had done in really long time and I did it on a Surly Cross Check.

In the end, it made sense

'It's amazing macha, amazing!

‘It’s amazing macha, amazing!

Contributing blogger:

Ashwin Bala. He is known by many names. Like, Barefoot Bala, in the running community, Burji Bala in the Middle East(… oh wait, that’s his name at the lunch table), Ivaney the Terrible in Russia.

Runner. Cyclist. Savant. Data Rodent. Purveyor of Social Culture. Verbal prestidigitator. Prodigious ladies’ man. Multilingual punster. Munificent Mirthful Mama. Many things to many people. One hell of a guy.

How to express yourself, CFL style.

 

  1. Greeting others at the start of day.

 

  1. Good morning everyone

Nikhil’s Nattering: Hola!

Pavan Parlance: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!

Rishabh’s Riposte: Hi..rrlgs. I am not late..ggbg. I am.. rrlll  on time.. mbgs).

Riyaz’s Repartee: Good morning. (shy smile)

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Good morning sir!

  1. How are you?

Pavan Parlance: Spiffing morning, what? How are you, this fine Bangalore morning?

Rishabh’s Riposte: Okay, maaps?

Riyaz’s Repartee: How are you? (Not so shy smile. And if its Nikhil, some pushing and shoving.)

Nikhil Nattering: What’s up ba?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Fiiiine  fiiiine   fiiine.  How are you? (Answered before the question is asked)

 

  1. How was the weekend?

Pavan Parlance: Did you get dropped on your prefrontal cortex as a kid? We work weekends, remember?

Rishabh’s Riposte: Arglebarglemumble.

Nikhil Nattering: (each word well-enunciated) Macha, that’s a question we never ask. Because we’re all working on weekends.

Riyaz’s Repartee: Weekend pe who was working, then?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: What weekend, boss?

  1. Do you want coffee?

Rishabh’s Riposte: errr…. Garglebroogcoffee?

Nikhil Nattering: Who wants coffee? Raise your hands. Coffeecoffeecoffecoffeecoffayyy!

Riyaz’s Repartee: Tumna ko coffee hona?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: (Nods in disagreement even though we all know he doesn’t drink coffee)

Pavan Parlance: Coffee venuma, ungalukku? Venuma? Coffee?

 

  1. Where is the stapler?

Pavan Parlance: RISHABH!!

Rishabh’s Riposte: errr…. brugsslepididntdoanythingisweargrumble

Nikhil Nattering:  Rishabh. Enna macha idhu?

Riyaz’s Repartee: Rishabh. Where is the stapler, man?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Hey what man Rishabh. Yesterday I saw you keeping it somewhere!

 

  1. This is how <random cycle part/ accessory> works

Pavan Parlance: If you hear a KREEEESSSCHHHHRRR sound. You know the brake pads need replacing

Rishabh’s Riposte: (working his magic on a kid customer) Hey Dubax! This will go pssssss if you go fast  

Nikhil Nattering:  This is the Hornit. If you press it once, it goes BEEEEEEEEEEEP (falsetto). If you press it twice, it goes BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEEEEEP (falsetto)

Riyaz’s Repartee: Nikhil. You explain.

Pillai Patois: Unicorns! That is the explanation. Cycles are pulled by Unicorns. You just don’t realize it because they are invisible.

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: You want shoes means you should go to Yelahanka Police Station. They caught the robber. What all shoes man!

 

  1. I don’t agree with you

Pavan Parlance: Thatha! That’s hogwash of the highest order. Completely childish claptrap. Babble built on baloney. Pointless prattle indeed. I expect better of you, Sir.

Rishabh’s Riposte: No maaps. Thatisnothowitrgymbsrtworksargle

Nikhil Nattering:  (most patient tone of voice) See here. What you are saying sounds ludicrous to me. This is why.

Riyaz’s Repartee: (tries to beat up Nikhil)

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: You don’t know man. I’ll tell you.

 

  1. Who is that girl?

Pavan Parlance: Perchance, did you contemplate upon yon wondrous maiden with flaxen hair?

Rishabh’s Riposte: Who is Manjit? He is that wonderful dhaba owner down the road

Nikhil Nattering:  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA (can be heard as far as Sumatra)

Riyaz’s Repartee: (Busy working on cycles)

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Ei! Don’t say like that!

 

  1. Token sentence of doubtful origins in terms of cleanliness

Pavan Parlance: I’m not dirty. I shower constantly. Heyy… Macha, look at the length of the stem on that baby!

Rishabh’s Riposte: That was some good brinjal!

Nikhil Nattering:  Put her up on the stand. We need to lube that crankshaft. Oh. HA HA HA HA HA (can be heard all the way at Alice Springs)

Oh yes!   Oh Yes! Yes! (Heard this one just as this blog post was in production. And he was talking to one of our friends & suppliers about how wonderful the Timbuk2 panniers are. In case you were wondering)

Riyaz’s Repartee: (Working seriously on a bike)

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Ei! See man. Take the brush, put like this and like that you must do. You do like this. Ah! Like that.

 

  1. Bye bye. See you tomorrow.

Pavan Parlance: AAAAAAAIIII! SHUT DOWN, I SAY.

Rishabh’s Riposte: Mama. I will scam. It looks like it will rain.

Nikhil Nattering:  (Most Gallic accent) Oui arrre rready to shutdown

Riyaz’s Repartee: Jingey?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: I have to go for one marriage, man. All the way to Tilak Nagar.

We will be the first to admit this: we are a bunch of social trolls! Every single man, woman and child among us (quite literally). We all like our interactions with customers till about 7pm – because, hey, talking about cycles to other cycles lovers – what’s not to like? Then we like to go home, enjoy our music/ have a quiet drink/ read a book….

Now, take this group of individuals and put them in a business, in the time of social media. We are told, “Ask questions on social media. That’s what gets you most hits”. “It’s not important to only post stuff. It’s important to respond as well”. “It’s been 24 hours since the last post. You guys will look inactive”. And we are thinking, “The reason we wanted to do this was to get the hell out of computerlandia and spend more time enjoying the mechanic beauty of the bike. When did this become about facebook presence?”

Phasebook

                                                                                                                 Image courtesy: wired.com

We continue to walk down that slippery slope of social media constancy. And we continue to slip and fall as often as we manage to stay upright. And when we do update regularly, it is because –

  1. Semi-serious threats (“macha, I am watching you. If you don’t post regularly, I am going to have to give you feedback on your performance” to which the response is usually, “Oh, you social butterfly, you. Why don’t you post this week, then”)
  2. Motivation! As if it were the last leg of a particularly tough endurance event (“come on, you can do it, one more post and this will be a 7-post week. Ri-shabh! Ri-shabh! Ri-shabh!”)
  3. Coaxing,- “I am so proud of you for putting up posts every alternate day. And they have such wonderful responses. Trust me, one day you will be happy you did this”
  4. Bribery- Ice cream/ picking someone’s lunch tab/ quick cycle tune up are all good ways to get temporary results. When that runs out, you know what is coming up next… more bribery.

Why are we talking about all this? Well, firstly, so you can appreciate everytime a blog post or an update comes up, how much of someone’s soul it has taken to do so. And stand up and cheer wildly for us J. Secondly, so we can lament how it’s not enough to do a good job with people who you interact with and be stunning with customers. And how it is so tough to bury that self-effacing ‘aw shucks’ personality deep down and get to some shameless self-promotion, while the Anglo-Saxon side of our collective consciousness cringes.

Ahhh. Feeling good, already! With that off our chests, we will see you on facebook, folks. Please like this post!

The best part of our day is thinking about the stories of our customers. We met one customer over the weekend whose story had to be shared.

Susheel Alexander Samuel walked into the store to get his Schwinn serviced. A quiet mannered young man, he spoke about cycling from the Fraser Town area to Marathahalli to work.

He got talking… and we found out just what he has been through. Just before he started college, a ghastly motorbike accident that shattered his helmet, damaged his brain and landed him in the hospital for months.  Not just that, he had brain surgery, was in a coma, had short term memory loss, through which he managed to get through engineering entrance exams.

Not only did he come out of coma and make a full recovery, he went on to finish his engineering and a masters and is now working quite some distance away from home – and guess what – he commutes on a cycle.

We first commended him on having parents who were strong enough to not flip out, at the thought of him being out on a cycle.  We were filled with a sense of respect and appreciation for this young man. He clearly was strong willed to do everything that was needed – and then some. He says he used to play contact sports – but has put that on hold, because of the impact the brain surgery already would have taken.

Susheel

Image courtesy: bangalore.citizenmatters.in

There is a placidity about Susheel and also an indefinable quality similar to power… possibly something that comes out of having seen danger and difficulty and coming out of it stronger. We appreciated him multiple times for having the courage to get back on the saddle and for his commitment to fitness.

We wanted to share his story – for the people who ask us “is it safe to ride in traffic?” And for all those people who ride their cycle in traffic everyday.

All we have is today. All we know is that we are safe this day. What we do about it – do we seize the handlebar and ride (safely, with helmets and lights and with regard to traffic) is up to us. For who knows, what tomorrow might bring.

Susheel’s story inspired us immensely. We are happy to have met him and to have heard his true story of the indomitable quality of the human spirit.

Wishing all of you guys safe rides. And remember, helmets save lives.

Sometimes, you just need to get out of the store and into the outdoors or you might as well shoot yourself. Yesterday was a good day. I got out of the store, onto my beloved Kona JTS and rode to Nandi Hills in great company….thanks  A2, and Monica! A special thanks to Rishabh for actually being good to go at 4:15 in the morning, which is when he usually goes to bed.

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The Cyclists for Life store is great and I can’t think of a better place to work. Hell, I’ve worked 16 – odd years in soulless offices, often doing stuff I’m embarrassed to admit to (selling coffee, anyone?), but it can be very demanding. Which means that I haven’t really used my road bike in earnest for, oh, let’s see now, 7-8 months. So when Runners for Life said they were doing a run at Nandi, we seized on that as a great opportunity to get out, get a ride, connect with the cardio community and feel virtuous about it in the bargain.

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I’ve been coming to an epiphany of sorts over a period of time – doing what you love can sometimes mean you have very little time to do what you love.  Running a bike store can, if you don’t watch out, consume all your attention and leave you very little time to actually ride. Which, duh, is why you started the store in the first place. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We keep our kit at work, so you can actually take off for a half-hour ride when things are slow. And that’s gotta be a great place to work. It’s just, well, not the same as being out of town with the wind in your hair and a song on your lips.

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So, as I write this, I’m squaring my shoulders, hardening my resolve, steeling my thews, knitting my brows, narrowing my eyes into slits for that purposeful look and checking out my image in the mirror hoping that all this doesn’t make me look like a smurf. All this to tell myself “Thou shalt ride more.”

 

So far my stint at CFL has acquainted me with the electrifying life of stall duty. Three days of repeating yourself while standing almost always, powering up on the four hours of sleep that you bargained for and meeting some of the biggest characters the city attracts. The life!

Pavan uses the stall as an excuse to get hillbilly bob (they call me bob) out of the store and out of his face. While actually it’s just him complementing my unsurpassed ‘people skills’. A couple of dos, don’ts and don’t you dare’s later, I’m packed off to face the masses armed with a futile table fan and a regular desk.

The tyre fetish

Manning the stall is the cheap man’s guide to innovation. You come up with quirky, inventive, stare worthy ways of knocking those banal moments to space. People watching (nothing to do with creepy kind) is my ten minutes of recreation. This is where the tyre fetish folk come in. It has been frequently observed that a large flock of customers are most keen on understanding the curvaceous facets of a regular rubber tyre. It starts with the demonstrative pinching of the treads which slowly evolves into two or three sharp squeezes of the sides. The wheel is then pushed into rotation and that receives the standard hand gesture which translates to superb but also the number three for very obvious reasons in some languages. A hoax if you’d call it as the hand falls down as fast as it rose and the index finger is launched with vigor to test the otherwise  obvious strength of the tyre. They are dumbfounded. The tyre is resilient and is unscathed by the efforts of their tyre’ant hands. The ornery smug nod is always the sign of conclusion. It’s fascinating that the end nod is always directed at me and that’s my cue to stand up and retort with a measured cognitive nod as to compliment the award worthy three minutes of idiocy.

Public Service Announcement 

The three individuals below are repeat offenders. Their pictures and names have come to light through confidential sources.

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Sheeter ‘Na illa sir’ Govind

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Sheeter Psycle Chainz Elangovan

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Sheeter Freewheel Magu

 

Let your cycles be safe!