paying homage

Wright Cycle Company Building

Wright Cycle Company Building

Yesterday, I took advantage of warmer weather to get in the second of the three rides I pledged to take this week. I ran errands to the library (to pick up two bicycle-related books, no less — more on that in a later post), the Post Office, and FedEx. On the way home, I stopped by a local landmark to pay proper homage to one of many places where these sexy two-wheeled machines of ours began coming into their own: The Wright Cycle Company building. Time didn’t permit me to tour the small museum (which happens to be adjacent to much larger museum and learning center celebrating what the brothers are perhaps better known for: flying), but it’s something I’d like to be sure to do in the near future, before I move out of the area. There seems to be a certain pilgrimage-like dimension to it, I think. Given how ecstatic my daughter is about bicycles, I bet it would be lots of fun to take her along. She’ll flip.

I thought it was especially clever that, anticipating visitors on bikes, the museum had set up a particularly appropriate and creative set of bike racks.wright-cycle-2

Today, the warm up continued with temps in the mid-40s and plenty of sunshine. I capitalized on it accordingly, especially with the forecast showing another big chill tomorrow. I rode roughly 40 miles on the local bike paths. The route was clear for the most part, but there were still a number of patches where the snow had not fully melted. That, coupled with lots of runoff elsewhere, made for a very messy ride. I’ll be spending tomorrow morning cleaning my bike. Not only did this wintry residue create some, shall we say, adventurous riding conditions (i.e., taking my bike in directions other than where the handlebar was pointing it), but it also contributed directly to the one problem I had as far as the cold was concerned. The spray off my front wheel absolutely soaked my shoes and socks in virtually no time at all, which left my feet feeling painfully cold and numb long before the ride was over. Aside from that, it was a beautiful, wonderful ride that left me in a very happy frame of mind (albeit trapped in a body that is a little sore and weary — I still have a long way to go before I’m ready to ride a tour). I am so grateful.

Speaking of tours, my application for the League of Michigan Bicyclists PALM (Pedal Across Lower Michigan) tour arrived in today’s mail. Our family is planning to participate. (A post on my hijacked blog had mentioned this. Stay tuned for updates as we prepare for this adventure.)

*****

A couple of days ago, I changed out the rear tire on my bike. I managed to put at least three holes in the tube doing so. (For what it’s worth, these are narrow, 120p.s.i. tires on a road bike. I haven’t had this trouble with the tires and tubes on my commuter.) Cheapskate that I am, I actually attempted to patch all three holes, thinking that $1.50 in patches was more economical than the four or five bucks I’d spend on a new tube. More importantly, (1) I had nothing better to do (not true); (2) I saw it as good practice; and (3) I’m never excited about the prospect of throwing rubber in a landfill (and sincerely regret the number of occasions I’ve done so). Alas, either one or more of my patches didn’t hold, or else I managed to pinch the tube again while reinstalling. So today, before taking my ride, I had to put in a new tube.

That got me thinking. I wonder if there are any bicycle shops that offer tire and tube recycling programs for local riders. Just offering riders a place to responsibly dispose of these materials would be good in its own right. (If nothing else, the shop owners get more folks in their shop, folks who are sure to pick up a little something while dropping off their discarded tires and tubes, even if only another tire and tube.) But it would be even better if shops could afford to offer some kind of discount to encourage people to bring them in. One way to do it, so that shop owners aren’t left footing the bill for something we should all be doing (happily), would be to put a small surcharge on tires and tubes, which you essentially get back upon turning them in for recycling. It would be difficult for individual shops to do this. Any shop opting not to participate would, as a matter of course, be undercutting those who did by selling tires and tubes for less. So I wonder if this is something bicycle tire and tube manufacturers could get behind. Auto parts stores and garages do this with car batteries. How much more would such an effort suit the lives of us velofolk? What do you think?

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One response to “paying homage

  1. Never knew the Wright Brothers were into bicycles. Thank you, village scribe, for educating me. I will be sure to visit this museum when/if I happen to visit this area.