Saturday, May 25, 2013

Riding in a new direction

As the many of you who I've seen in person in the last couple of weeks already know,  I'm in the process of making a big change in my life.   After 16 years of making my living as an architect, I've quit my job, and am starting on another path, running a bicycle shop specializing in transportation cycling.

As longtime readers and locals know, Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, and environs have a flourishing transportation bicycling scene.  More and more people are realizing that a bicycle is the most convenient way around a dense and parking- challenged city, as well as being healthy, green and fun! So it's almost shocking that there's no place in town to test-ride a bakfiets, and very few where you can buy a traditional step through city bike with fenders, chainguard, rack and lights built in.  There also aren't many places that focus on bicycling with kids, which I think is increasingly needed as people who bike everywhere start families and want to continue their cycling lifestyle, and pass it along to their kids.

So, I'm going to try to fill that gap with a new shop called Bicycle Belle.   I've rented space on a prime cycling route- the corner of Beacon St and Oxford St (368 Beacon) on the Somerville/ Cambridge line; hopefully soon to be the head of the new cycletrack.  It's freshly painted and I've replaced the fluorescent tubes with decorative lights.  I'm in the process of ordering bikes and accessories, installing shop fixtures and generally getting things sorted and set up.  It's been a busy couple of weeks, both before I quit my job, and this first week that I'm working full time on the shop.

The first boxes of accessories and the first set of bikes will arrive next week, and we'll be getting bikes through the summer as longer lead time european bikes (Workcycles and Paper bikes)  start to trickle in.

It's a big scary leap into the unknown, as I know absolutely nothing about retail- I never even worked in a shop in high school- I was a waitress instead!   But it's something I have a passion for, something I follow obsessively in my free time, and something I hope that the city needs and wants.  I've already had some ups and downs, and I'm sure that will continue, as I learn the ropes and figure out the industry, the retail business and the market.   I hope that I can provide a real service to people looking for these kinds of bikes, and maybe even make a living doing it.  I just have to trust that I can figure out all the details along the way!

I'm incredibly grateful to the support of my family, the Scientists' family (my family too now!) my bikey friends who have been giving support- especially Velouria from Lovely Bicycle who has been meeting with me for months helping me plot and scheme.   And more than anyone the Scientist,  who is not only taking on the responsibility of supporting us while I get this off the ground, but has enthusiastically encouraged me through all the planning and dreaming and teeth-gnashing.

I don't have a firm opening date, but I expect it will be in the month of June.  I suspect that this blog may become a diary more about opening a bike shop than riding, as I work to make it all happen.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for inventory or other ideas, and I hope to see those of you in the Boston area at the shop once it's open for business!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Louis CK on "Different Values"

If you haven't seen this yet, you should really check it out- Louis CK talking about windshield perspective and how it completely distorts human interactions

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I've been distracted

I've been distracted recently in the nicest possible way.  First I went to Scotland.  The Scientist was giving a talk in Edinburgh, and we've always wanted to go to Scotland, so I tagged along and we made a vacation of it.  The landscape was fantastic, the weather was cold, the newborn lambs were adorable, and we did rather a lot of driving to see a lot of territory in a short time.  It's a gorgeous place, and next time I'm there I think I want to camp out in one place and just get to know a smaller area.

I was kind of surprised that there wasn't more of a biking culture in Edinburgh.  I didn't see much in the way of infrastructure, and most of the people on bikes were in hardcore commuter mode with spandex and fluorescent rainwear.   I saw an old rod- braked Pashley, and a brand new Pashley poppy parked across the street from one another.  The Scientist met someone at the university who had a bakfiets, so maybe it was just cruddy weather and the wrong part of town for it.

Then we got back and I've been working like crazy on an exciting project that's the subject of another post....

But now it's bike week, and I've been celebrating as I do most weeks, by riding my bike!
I met with Velouria from Lovely Bicycle on Monday to discuss my project, and then we ended up swapping bikes, with her trying my bakfiets and me riding her Brompton.

Today I just did a boring old ride to work, with bonus compost drop off, because the main "event" in my area, the Broadway Bicycles pancake breakfast gets going too late for me to make it and have a hope of getting to work on time.   Tomorrow (Wednesday) though is the Harvard sq bike breakfast, which always has good food and the best swag (sponsored by the university).  Thursday is the Kendall Sq area breakfast, which is right on my normal route, so I see a lot of familiar faces.   And finally Friday there's the big breakfast at Boston city hall,  which is always fun.

Hope to see more familiar faces these next couple of days.  I'll be riding the Bakfiets if anyone wants to check it out!