Like me, I bet a lot of you learned to ride a bike by graduating from a big wheel to a trike and then to a bike with training wheels. Then the day came, the day that you first feel freedom. The freedom of wind in your hair, wheels spinning fast enough to comply with physics and voila...you're riding a bike! I imagine you have some fun pictures and fond memories of your first bike. It's a proven way to go to learn to ride a bike, no doubt about it. It's stood the test of time.
However, in my opinion, there is a more natural way to get youngsters riding bikes. They're known as balance bikes or glide bikes. They're very light weight bikes that a child can easily straddle as young as 12-months. Once your little once can stand and straddle the bike, they'll start to scoot around on it. They learn to steer and then gradually they start taking longer strides. They start to glide longer and longer between strides, learning balance in a vary natural way, with no dependence on training wheels. Once they have the idea of balance and steering, the transition to a bike with pedals is much simpler, they only have two things to focus on, pedaling and stopping.
The bikes are very light, so the kids can handle them, also teaching independence. The tires are a solid soft rubber, no pumping or punctured tubes! The Yuba Flip Flop is a super versatile version and features a rear rack with optional panniers and even a small mountable front rack so your little one can be like Mommy and Daddy and tote along their favorite stuffed animal, toy, and of course snacks!
The name Flip Flop has a reversible frame that can be run in the convex mode, for lower standover and suitable for the young or short inseam kiddos. When they are big enough, flip that frame over for more standover and it can work for kids up to 6-years old.
The Flip Flop comes in cow, giraffe and lime green. The saddle bags and front rack are nice little touches to personalize. I've got these little guys in stock so your little one can take one for a test glide! It's a great way to see how naturally kids pick up the concepts on them. I get pretty stocked about any bike, but these little guys hold a special place in my heart because they get kids hooked on riding. What's better than that?
Get those young'uns gliding, and soon they'll be riding!
I saw this sunflower bloom on a ride recently. It was the lone sunflower blooming in a vast field of green stalks. It got my attention and I find it to not only be a stunning picture, but an example that rang true as I pondered it more. Sometimes going your own way means being the first, sometimes it means standing out in a crowd, but at it's core, it's just you being you. That's a lot to get from a picture of a flower isn't it? Yes. And, no.
~more miles, more smiles
There are so many places to explore in and around East, TN. Erwin, TN is just a couple hours drive northeast of Maryville on I-81. There is a great greenway to ride in town. For a small town, around 6,000 population, it's amazing to me that they have bike lanes, a greenway through town, and a number of beautiful road bike routes (with signage) in and around the area.
Just down the road, in the small outlying community of Flag Pond, there is a beautiful state park that is relatively new, by the name of Rocky Fork. It has some great hiking trails along picturesque rivers and creeks. The rivers seem to be quite the fishery and we saw a lot of great water to fish, may pullouts for quick parking and access, and quite a number of fly fisherman. A number of the trails are also bike accessible. They were mainly logging roads, but the opportunity for adventure on your bike is always a win. There were a number of trail opportunities and several went outside of the park as well, so the opportunity for bikepacking and exploration loops is worth a look for sure.
Rocky fork and Erwin are just one of many places. We plan to explore many more of what this beautiful area has to offer in the near future. Get a map, find a new place and do some research, and get out there and explore. No time like the present to go make some memories!
There are lots of different things that make a trail great. The technical features, roots, rocks, berms jumps, hero dirt, views, climbs, descents, and the list goes on. But sometimes what makes a trail great isn't the trail itself, it's the funky vibe that resonates.
The picture above is on a trail used to connect one great section to another. That short section of trail itself while purposeful, workman like even, is not something that you would really even notice and certainly not remember. But the Little Free Library kiosk where you take a book, leave a book is something that I just can't erase from my memory bank. I've ridden by it many, many times and it always catches my attention. I peak in every time. I'm drawn to it. There are always books and I feel pretty sure the titles are different every ride, or maybe I just want them to be different. one things for sure, you never know what you'll find. Sometimes there is a single glove inside, or some other misfit article of clothing or piece of kit that was inadvertently lost on the trail. I always wonder if the lonely glove or abandoned tire lever ever finds it's rightful owner, or maybe a new caretaker wearing mix-matched gloves.
It's a piece of trail that will forever be etched in my memory, not because of the trail itself, rather, the quirk factor. I've never left or taken anything from the little trail shrine, but it intrigues me that others do, I think I will pay homage to the trail gnomes and leave a book next time I'm out. It seems the right thing to do.
If there is one part of your bike that you want to keep happy, it's your drivetrain, in particular, your chain. A clean chain is a happy chain! This is basic maintenance item, so you can absolutely do it yourself and I highly recommend that you do.
How often you perform this is dependent upon how much you ride and in what conditions, but for most folks riding in good weather, cleaning and lubing your chain once ever 2-3 rides should be adequate. If you ride in harsh conditions or for longer distances, every other ride or even every ride is probably best.
What kind of lube? If you like to analyze, this choice can be as complex as you want. There are a lot of choices and many manufacturer claims. To simplify, it really comes down to two types, wet lube and dry lube (the latter being a bit of an oxymoron!). Wet lube is the more traditional, and more universal of the two. It is what you should use for certain in wet riding climates. When in doubt go with this lube, it generally lasts longer, and as long as you apply in the method I describe below, in large part you can avoid it's only real disadvantage, which is that it can build-up and attract dirt. Dry lube is a waxed base lubricant and is intended for dry weather. It tends to be lighter and repels dirt better, but it doesn't take a lot of water to wear it off. It also will generally demand more frequent lubing and can leave your drivetrain a little noisier. Some folks will run wet lube in fall/winter and dry lube in the spring/summer. Changing is fine too, but a good degreasing of the chain when switching is likely best. We'll tackle degreasing in another post.
I'm a fan of ProGold. They even make a cool lube pen which is excellent for getting into precise spots such as pivots, cables, spoke nipples when truing wheels, etc. I use both for both personal and shop use. I highly recommend. I've also had good luck with Finish Line products (love their bike wash) including their wax lube as well as White Lighting clean ride lube.
Okay, so you know what to buy and how often to apply, but how do you do it?! To start, you really want to do this when you return from a ride, not before you go. You want to lube to penetrate...and doing this will make it more likely that you won't skip a ride because of maintenance.
If you forget to do this when you return and you need to lube the chain, it's not the end of the world to do so before you go ride, but give it as much time to sit as you can to have the most impact. If you rode in the rain, in really dusty conditions, or any other harsh climate, I would definitely plan for 10-15 minutes after the ride to get the drivetrain cleaned up and lubed. Remember, the basics...always clean the chain first, then lube, then wipe off excess. It's as simple as that.
Keep it clean, folks!
Measure your distance in smiles, not miles. There is no better example of this then a good old fashioned family ride. It doesn't need to be a high mileage road ride or a technical trail or big mountain mileage on a bike of the fat tire variety to bring out the kid in all of us. This is a picture of a multi-generational ride on a family friendly multi-use path over Easter weekend. Grandparents, kids, and grand kids out for a spin together along a beautiful river in the mountains. The Gatlinburg Trail is short in the mileage department at just under 2-miles one way, but it is an opportunity to get out on your bike and spin the pedals near a beautiful river on family friendly terrain.
You will see plenty of people and a lot of dogs as well, so speed isn't an option nor the focus here. This is a place to embrace your inner zen and take breaks often, listen to the sounds of the river, look for trout hunting food, and just soak in the beauty of your environment. Sure it's just a hop, skip and a jump from the tourist zone that is Gatlinburg, and it terminates at an equally busy Sugarlands Visitor Center, but there is some beautiful scenery sandwiched in between. It's also an opportunity to ride a bike in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, who can pass that up? If you're come in from the Maryville/Townsend side, access isn't bad from Wear's Valley coming in via Line Springs Road which hits Metcalf Bottoms.
Go ride. Talk to all of the folks out walking, pet their dogs. Put your feet in the river and maybe skip some rocks. Take plenty of pictures. Let the time drift by while you soak up the memories with your family. It's the biking version of stop and smell the roses I suppose.
~More miles, more smiles
The latest and greatest certainly has it's place. I'll be the first to admit I drool over some of the new technology and love new bikes, parts, accessories, etc. But let's not miss the point, it's not about what you ride, it's about the ride.
Not to get all philosophical, but it really is about the act of riding. The clearing of your head, the release of energy, the places you go and what you see and who you interact with. The journey itself is what I'm after. The bike is a tool to get us over yonder.
Old school is cool! Don't get caught up in not having all of the gear. Or the latest carbon frame, wheels, or otherwise. Just go ride. Savor the good it brings into your life and soak it all up when you're out there.
Bikes are cool. People riding bikes are cool. Go get some. Run what you brung....don't miss experiences and rides.
Winter is upon us. Gone are the Fall temperature swings and the Spring thaw is still way off on the horizon. Reality check...cold weather has set in! Sure, you could hunker down on the couch, watch re-runs of Wrecked, and dream of the warm days of summer. Alternatively, you could embrace the cold (or a high five if you're not a hugger) and ride year round. I know it can be tough getting motivated to get out on your bike when the temps drop, but if you stay comfortable, you can reap the rewards. What are the rewards you ask? See below for a few amongst many!
Now, you may be saying, but I don't have the gear! While there are many bicycle specific cold weather options, a few key pieces will really help and then you can supplement with regular cold weather apparel. They're not too expensive and think of it as an investment My personal votes would be:
Investing in those key pieces and supplementing with non-bike specific gear you already own will get you out on the bike.
Remember, set expectations to the temps. It's winter, just be happy to get out on your bike. Now is not the time to worry about performance riding and multiple hour rides (although that's great too), just rejoice in getting out on your bike while everyone else hibernates. It's addicting. The investment is minimal, the rewards are many. Go get some.
This article was also a guest post on the Bicycles Create Change Blog, which is a very cool site detailing how bikes create positive social change. Check it out!
Bicycles have always been a major part of my life. As a youngster, my bike was a source of both fun and freedom. I’d spend hours jumping curbs and laying down big rubber scorching skids. It was only natural to go in search of fresh curbs to jump and streets to skid, so I began to explore well beyond my neighborhood, finding new friends and new adventure.
One of the great discoveries of early childhood was the three trail systems that I could pedal to. It inspired me to scratch and save for my first proper bike, a blue Schwinn Sidewinder. It stoked my passion for bikes and with it I also got my first taste of wrenching on a bike, learning basic maintenance and repair. As I neared driving age I remember telling my parents that I wanted to buy a Trek hardtail mountain bike, complete with a Rockshox fork no less! While they believed my interest in bikes would wane due to automobiles and girls, they reluctantly agreed to split the cost for my beloved anodized purple beauty. My Dad was interested in riding more so he began piloting the trusty blue Schwinn. He joined me often for dirt time in the woods. Those rides with my Dad are some of the best memories of my youth.
My Dad is a big inspiration for me and someone I’ve always looked up to. He was the best man when my wife and I were married. He is also one of the main reasons for pursuing my passion once again as I spin into mid-life. Angelo Chapman Harris III was a successful athlete and coach. Track and Field and Cross-Country running were his passion along with the students he taught for the 40+ years of his career, all spent at one high school! He was offered opportunities to advance his coaching career many times, offers for bigger programs and at the university level. I’m sure he pondered them all, but he always turned them down. I never understood why as a young man.
My Dad passed away three years ago this past September. Life can be a cruel lesson, but I finally figured out the “why”. My Dad knew where he wanted to be and what he wanted to do. He helped many people along the way. Passion is the fuel that drove him. As they say, you never work a day in your life when you do what you love. What a gift. I am trying to follow his lead. I want to always feel that satisfaction of being right where I’m supposed to be when I get ready for “work” in the mornings.
We fulfilled one of our family’s dreams when we moved to Maryville, Tennessee last Spring. As our lives became more bike-centric and we connected the greenways and neighborhood roads on our frequent excursions about town, the thoughts bouncing around in my head became too persistent to ignore any longer. I started doing some research and soon a plan was formed to fulfill another dream. We were going to open a bike shop. One that would be focused on family and fun and be the ultimate in convenience, a mobile bike shop, and Happy Bike Sales & Service, LLC was born.
Too many times traditional bike shops can be intimidating for those who just want to ride their bike and don't necessarily need or care for the latest and greatest. And frankly, sometimes it's just hard to find the time. I'm a father of two young girls and I know how hectic life can get for me and my wife. I value family time and many of our family’s best times involve bikes. I want that for my customer’s as well and I want to make it as easy as possible. Time is valuable, spend it riding bikes not figuring out the logistics of how to get to the bike shop. Let the shop come to you!
The shop glides along in a customized 1985 Chevy Step Van. Its former life was spent delivering Golden Flake potato chips, hence the name of the steed. Goldie! The irony of driving a diesel step van around while working on and selling man’s most efficient machine is not lost on me. Despite that, I think the end justifies the means. It helps me accomplish my mission; more people spending more time on bikes. I also do my best to minimize my impact on the environment. I recycle all possible materials, use eco-conscience cleaning and lubrication products, and run the super-efficient LED lights off a power-bank that will soon be set-up to recharge by solar panels.
Bikes have given me a lot in my lifetime. Not only fitness, transportation, clarity, and plenty of fun, but comfort and purpose. I am passionate about the positive impact that bikes have on people and community. I want to see more kids riding bikes and more families riding together. I want to be part of the movement. I want to be involved in my community and get my community involved.
I have some great partners that share my vision and passion for bikes, the outdoors, and sustainability. One such is Mountain Challenge, a group of like-minded, fit, green, and happy dudes and dudettes over at Maryville College, which has been named a “Best in the Southeast” college by The Princeton Review. Mountain Challenge continues to do great things for the college and the local community in a progressive and inviting manner and are an inspiration for impacting people in a positive way. Another is Brooklyn Bicycle Co., who have gone out of their way to help me along and are a great model for excellent customer service. Both were willing to take a chance on me and my business bringing bikes to the people and for that I am grateful.
Starting a business is a lot like a long climb and like any long climb, I’m seated and in it for the long haul, turning over the pedals. It’s been steep and at times I’ve felt like I’m spinning out on a low gear, only making incremental progress. But it’s progress and I’m building momentum and shifting up the gears!
Follow my journey on Instagram and Twitter @1happybike and Facebook/1happybike. It’s sure to be interesting and I have big plans for the Spring of 2017!
More miles, more smiles!
Rider or is it writer?
My name is Adam Harris. I'm a lifelong cyclist. I love bikes. All types of bikes. I hope I can relay the joy that cycling provides me through glimpses into my thoughts and some of my mini adventures.