EP #2 Doug Karr

Audio link and video of the second episode of my podcast. My guest is local business owner Doug Karr. We discuss his weight loss journey, medical tourism and his struggle finding a proper bicycle.

http://thepsychicderailleur.buzzsprout.com/193775/807562-ep-2-doug-karr

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Do you really want to “save” the bike biz?

It seems that every year the industry rolls out the next product that will “save” the bike business.  A product so great, so revolutionary that rabid throngs of customers will rush into stores all over the country.

Of course, it never really lives up to the hype.

The products always seem to appeal to niche audiences, and said products always are on the higher end of the price range.  The funny thing is that there’s a gaping hole in the offerings from the big bike companies.  Something that truly could make a very big difference in the health, and happiness of a large number of people.   As far as I know no one is addressing it.

Here in the midwest we have a population that skews……..larger.  I’ve lost count of the number of customers I’ve talked to that genuinely want to ride a bike.  They just don’t know where to turn.

The first inclination seems to be visiting one of the big box stores and just buying a bike.  This rarely ends well.  Lack of sizes, and poor components make for a bad experience that usually ends in the person giving up.

Buying a bike in a bike shop should be a better alternative.  The trouble is that the wheels spec’d on recreational bike in the $400-$600 price range are not sufficient to hold someone tipping the scales over 250 lbs.  This is the problem.  Could the customer invest in a bicycle that is considerably more expensive with better, more durable wheels?  Absolutely.  Trouble is most new riders aren’t willing to shell out $1500 on what may be their first bike since childhood.

You may be saying “So what?  Just sell them a bike.  Having a bike with sub standard wheels is better than no bike at all”.  Unfortunately it’s not that easy.

Let’s say that you’re the one in this situation.  You’ve decided to exercise, and you’d like to ride a bike.  You go to a bike shop because that’s where you get “good” bikes.  You may have had a couple of not so great experiences at bike shops already.  You explain that you would like a bike, but don’t think there is anything available that will “hold” you.

Now let’s say I assure you that said bike will be fine.  I may even provide a gentle warning you that there may be issues with the wheels, but they can be serviced.  You buy the bike, and within the first few months spokes start breaking.  What are the chances that you end up discouraged, and stop riding all together?  What are the chances that you are left feeling a bit betrayed by me for selling you something that should have “worked”?

I am in no way suggesting that larger folk not seek out the joys of riding a bicycle.  The point is big bicycle companies don’t think that this is a category worth spending time on.  For that they should be ashamed.

If they really want to “save” the bike business they will stop allocating all of their resources to high dollar, ever more complicated racing bikes and start spending a little more time on the other 95% of their customer base.

 

Podcasting (finally)

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There was a time in my life when all I wanted was to be on the radio.  I made that happen at a pretty young age.  By my sophomore year of college I had an actual job at an actual radio station.  It was small town AM radio, but I was doing it (and getting paid which made me a bit of unicorn among my peers).

I ultimately decided to not pursue radio as a career, but sometime in the mid 90’s I discovered podcasting.  It was the very early stages of the medium, but I saw potential.  I sat on the sidelines for years thinking that podcasting was something I would like to do.  Well, I’ve made the commitment and I’m going to give it a go.

The program will be discussions with people that I find interesting.  There will, for obvious reasons, be a strong bicycle component but it will not be the sole focus.

Even though this is a brand new endeavor I hope it sparks constructive conversation, and suggestions.  Links will be posted in the space as the episodes are finished.

Fingers crossed.

Slow Thinking

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Slow thinking is not a new concept.  If you’re anywhere near my age I’m sure you’re familiar with these sayings.

Look before you leap

Engage your brain before you open your mouth

Better to remain silent and thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Sleep on it.

If there are some of these that pertain specifically to the online world I would love to hear them.

I was reacquainted with this concept listening to economist Arnold Kling discuss his book The Three Languages of Politics.

The concept is pretty easy to understand.  Take a bit of time before you speak (or write, or tweet etc.).  How long do you wait?  It’s hard to say.  It could be a breath, a minute, hours or days.  The point is don’t just spout off.  How many disagreements, road rage incidents, or on line “flame wars” could be prevented this way?

Social media is littered with people who could learn from this.

Of course there have been times when I’ve been irritated, or angered by some random post.  I’ve taken to the keyboard and tapped out what I thought was a terribly clever response.  Righteous in my indignation was I.  I did not, however, hit “send”.  I read what I had written.  Then I read it again.  At that point I deleted the post.  It’s quite cathartic.  I recommend you try it.  Go ahead and use all caps!  What I realized was that what I wrote wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind.  It was only going to pull me down into the crevasse of crap that the original poster had created.

As someone who makes a living in the bicycle business, I’m acutely aware of the constant dangers that automobiles (and the drivers that pilot them) pose when I’m riding on city streets.  I have to think that I would, at the very least, feel much safer if the driver that passes too close (always with some choice words) would take a breath and realize that a bicycle is not actually an impediment to their day.  (Staying off phones while driving would actually accomplish a whole lot more, but that’s a different discussion.)

Now I’m quite sure, gentle reader, that none of these things apply to you directly.  Possibly you have a friend that could benefit from this?  We all have that friend.

Here’s to embracing the slow.

 

 

 

 

Bro, do you even #coffeeoutside?

 

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One of the great things about the local bike touring experience is doing seemingly mundane things in different outside locations.

A movement (perhaps not the right word to use given I’m talking about coffee) has been taking place over the last few years.  People making coffee outside.  What’s the big deal you say?  Why all the hubbub?  Well, it’s simple.  No, really it’s simple.  Riding your bike, and making a nice cuppa is an easy, relaxing thing to do.  This process usually involves friends……who also ride bikes, and like coffee.  See where I’m going here?

The process of putting together a coffee kit is easy.  If you camp, you probably already have most, if not all of the things you need.  A kettle, stove, water, some coffee (I tend to take mine pre-ground.  Some folks take beans and portable grinders to prepare the coffee on the spot) and a coffee brewing method.  Two of my favorites are the collapsible pour over from Snow Peak, and the Aeropress.

I think of coffee outside like a small adventure.  You’re using some of the gear you’ve acquired (including those nice bags on your bike).  You’re enjoying the outdoors.  Maybe you’re in a spot that you’ve ridden by, but never stopped to enjoy.  This is all part of the local bike touring experience.

Do you already enjoy #coffeeoutside?  If not, does this tempt you in any way.  I hope it does.

 

Rediscovering the Library

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I remember when I discovered the public library.  It was kind of unbelievable to me that anyone, even a little kid like me, could borrow books.  There was no digital media in those olden days.  They did have a sweet selection of posters that I could take home and hang in my room for a week or two.  That seems a bit weird looking back.

As I got older, I read books less frequently and the books I did want to read I bought.  This lead to shelves full of books that were read once, or in many cases, read not at all.

In my attempt to un-clutter my life, I started ridding myself of these neglected tomes.  As the shelves started to empty, I encountered a dilemma.  There was a book that I actually wanted to read.  I thought for a moment about buying it.  It’s so easy to do after all.  It seemed that I was about to potentially undo all the good works that I had done.  Then it hit me.  Couldn’t I go to the library?  It struck me as a bit old fashioned, and a bit nerdy even.  What did I have to lose?  I chose to give it a try.

As I entered the nearest library branch the woman behind the counter asked if she could help me.  I told her that I would like I library card.  The degree of excitement that she exhibited was a bit surprising.  She was very excited.

Here’s what I discovered.  The library is pretty cool.  We can check availability, reserve books and renew everything online.  It also forces me to be diligent with regards to the reading.  I know going in that I have 3 weeks, and it forces me to knuckle down and read instead of screwing off doing other things.  The best bit is that I’m not filling up the house with extra stuff that I really don’t need.

What do you think?  How long has it been since you’ve been to your public library?