Friday, March 21, 2014

DIYBIKING.COM's Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Spring

We've finally settled on the safe word with winter - or it is just March 21, the first day of spring. 

I don't know what the weather is like where you are right now, but this is indeed the day to celebrate the season where bikes break out of their basement cocoons and morph into road butterflies. 

That was a better sounding metaphor when it was in my head.

Anyway, if you are looking for ways to celebrate this long-awaited day, I've got you covered: 

10) Clean the road salt off your bike with a cheap rotary tool

This is important if you've been riding your bike while the snow is melting and leaving your bike looking like the non-chocolate Hostess mini donut (it was a big problem for me when I returned from Washington D.C. a few weeks ago). You can buy a rotary tool and a bunch of bits for $8 at Harbor Freight Tools in New Haven. A tiny brush attachment can be used to gently remove the salt. I recommend you sweep up all the salt and put it in baggies to sell back to Connecticut for the next winter. Trust me on this one. Or Not. 

9) Spring Cleaning and a Bike-Based Donation to Goodwill

Obviously, you can donate a bike to Goodwill, but I'm really talking about suitcases, shirts, shoes, electric fans, indoor/outdoor thermometers, coatracks and other things you don't use anymore and bringing them to Goodwill. You may not need your gently used stuff but someone else might. Now it is very important to use a bike to deliver stuff to Goodwill - especially the Stamford location - because it's better for your health and the environment (and it's fun to watch clueless people try to park a Prius when a Chevy Tahoe has already decided it's getting that space). 

8) Sign Up For a Class at Silvermine Arts Center 

My thoughtful wife gave me a class at the Silvermine Arts Center as an early birthday present - and to help me cope with a then-recent layoff. I learned how to use an acetylene torch and a plasma cutter but, even more importantly, learned some patience and technique from Bob the Instructor. They offer a lot more than metal sculpting and one-day sessions for those who can't take the time for a long class. Registration for the spring semester started two days ago. Click here to learn more. Wait. I put the link at 'learn' instead of 'here.' I'll let it go. 

7) Go to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center 

Few things say spring than a visit to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. It's really a kids-of-all-ages kind of thing. Walking around to see the animals is very soothing, and because the animals are outdoors, that means you will be too, which is always a good thing in spring. 

6) Break Bad Builds

This is a close relative to the Goodwill thing. Look, we've all been there. Hey, I'm usually there nine times a day before breakfast. But everyone has something that they made that they thought they would use but don't. Let go of whatever twisted attachment you have and break the thing down. Whether it is a ridiculous rolling tool stand (pictured) or a portable laptop desk (not pictured) or something else - get rid of it. The parts will be useful for something later.  

5) Visit Your Local Bike Shop

I hope there are great shops like Pacific Swim Bike Run near where you live. Visit to replace that hardened bottle of vulcanizer at the very least, but feel free to wander around until something strikes you. Also: you may be a DIY'er, but it is important to know when you are out of your depth or just want more time at home for yourself. Bring your bike to get it tuned up or get something fixed. After this ridiculous winter, you don't want to miss a single minute of riding because your bike wasn't fixed. 

4) Make Things

Fairly explanatory. 

3) Ride to a Coffee Shop (Preferably Lorca) 

I had a great fondness for Lorca long before they allowed me to display some of my bike art during March. The owner, Leyla, is very nice and exceptionally talented. Everything I've eaten there is delicious, and if not for gravity and spoilage, the little swirls she and her staff puts on the tops of their cappuccinos would be hung on the wall. But since they can't do that, they settled - for now, anyway - on some of my bike-themed art. Ride out and visit them. 

2) Pedal on a Road You've Never Been On Before

We all have routes we know and love, but there comes a time to take hold of that sense of adventure you had as a kid and go somewhere you haven't been before. Some of the best rides I've been on are ones where I am not 100% sure what state I'm in. I've found (and later returned) lost cell phones, discovered new shops, and met new people on a lot of off-the-map rides. Try one. Chances are excellent you'll have fun or experience something worth Tweeting about. 

1) Park Your Bike…and Ask for More Bike Parking

Not every community has the best bike parking options, but all shops and restaurants want people to come to them. When you lock your bike to a lamppost, parking meter or something non-bike rack related and shop somewhere, tell the owner or manager you'd appreciate and use a bike rack in front of their place of business. Then if the next person comes in and ask for the same thing, that business owner will call it a 'trend.' And if it keeps on happening, the needle will move. 

So please do one or all of those things frequently - starting today. After all, it's spring. Everything is awesome. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.

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