November 30, 2012

A Short Commute that Goes a Long Way

Date: November 30, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

A daily commute can be mundane. It can be a necessary evil. It can be beautiful and transcendent .We will offer our commutes to you, and ask you to share yours. Ted Arnold, bike buyer at Mellow Johnny’s, tells us what his routine ride gives him.

The cold air is a shock. More than anything else I'll do today the first pedal strokes of my morning commute let me know I am alive. Past Brentwood Park and along Arroyo Seco the same cluster of potholes greets me. A few blocks later the smell of Mi Victoria Bakery a triggers my hunger. It's these small bits of life are my signals that all is right. I could be in my car, but why?

Pushing aside my excuses to drive exposes the passion for me that is riding a bike. In the time of day that most people dread, I get a slice of what I love. Even if my life is no longer so simple as to allow a 5-hour folly on my bike, my commute allows me to have these small moments.

Onward towards Shoal Creek and though the historic Sieders Oaks section of the trail I see the same walker every morning and riding down Lamar Boulevard. At 6 am it's a ghost land. On my right the same runner I see daily, and heading north the same loaded commuter I see too. Our routines entwined as he labors with his overloaded rig, and as I speed downhill smoothly I can’ help but to think I’m cheating.

Past Pease Park and House Park my trip is nearing the end. The gravity I cheated this morning will become my afternoon adversary. Once at MJ’s my coffee all the better, the breakfast taco all the more satisfying. I am alive.

Want to share your commute? We’d love to hear what motivates you and what you love. Drop us a line or some words and if maybe we can share it with the MJ’s family.

Ode to a Cycling Cap

Date: November 30, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

By Thomas Miller

[caption id="attachment_7934" align="alignright" width="152" caption="Jacques Anquetil"][/caption]

Keeping up with the latest and greatest in cycling technology is practically a full time job.  Even for those of us who are exposed to the information every day, the endless innovations and voracious demand for faster, lighter, stronger, products  is pretty overwhelming. Carbon wheels, electronic shifting, new bottom bracket standards every week and even disc brakes on road bikes.  There are no more steel bikes or down tube shifters in competition and it turns out that you can make everything aero.

I sometimes feel blinded, mesmerized, or tricked with all of it.  For me, riding has always been more internal. More about self discovery.  Seeing the world from a different perspective and reveling in the strange mix of solitude and suffering that cycling provides.  The deepest conversations and purest moments of my life have occurred on a bike.  It’s where I truly experience the world.  It’s where I question my motives and sort through my problems.

[caption id="attachment_7938" align="alignright" width="159" caption="Roger DeVlaeminck over the hairne"][/caption]

I’m not entirely sure where cycling caps fit into this, or remind me of the reason I ride.  They just do.

Watching black and white video on the internet of Anquetil and Merckx, wondering how they were so fast on such machines.  Everything has changed since then.  Everything but the ubiquitous cycling cap, or casquette if you have a flare for French life. Untouched by time, this little cotton lid is my connection with yesterday. It's one thing I have in common with Anquetil and Merckx. A point of reference, I suppose.  I just can’t imagine riding in the fall or winter without one.

When you look back on pictures of Hinault in 1980, winning Liege Bastogne Liege in a snowstorm and permanently losing feeling in his fingers, it’s there.  When you search for images of Coppi, on his way to victory in the 1953 Giro d’Italia, it’s there as well. The modest cotton cap.

Possibly one of the best pieces of kit available, cycling caps are guaranteed to never go out of style.  The little overachievers are equal parts form and function. They keep the rain off, the sun out, and the style in.  Also, they’re 1/225 the price of those 303’s you’ve been wanting.  If you haven’t already, give one a try.  Find some old country road and go ride.

Others have written extensively about the the Casquette, to an obsessive degree. Look here or here or maybe even here and waste some time.