Get to Know the Place Where You Live

For the last post in our Just Ride Series, we asked three of our friends who are bike commuters to answer a few questions about why they bike to work.

  1. Why do you bike to work?
  2. What is your favorite part of your commute?
  3. What are the advantages to riding your bike?

Meet Sarah, she’s the Community School Director for Lincoln Middle School and no longer owns a car!

  1. Why do you bike to work?

There are the obvious reasons– like the financial and health benefits– but over the past two years of bike commuting, I’ve added to the list. As a Community School Director, biking gives me a unique vantage point to the school neighborhood. If I drove to school, I may not notice the nuances of the neighborhood we serve.

  1. What is your favorite part of your commute?

My favorite part is seeing my students and the students seeing me. Whenever I hear a “Hi Miss!”, I laugh and ring my bell. They get a kick out of seeing “a teacher” outside of school. I hope when they see me they see a way of being independent and adventurous. They really get a kick out of it when I bike in a dress or heels (which is most days!).

  1. What are the advantages to riding your bike (could be discounts at work, faster commute, seeing the city, etc.)?

The maintenance of both my physical and mental health is a huge advantage.

Physically, I have noticed an improvement in my circulation! I used to be cold all the time, but after two years of my 4.2 mile commute, I feel so much better.

The mental break- 15 minutes each way, outside, away from screens and notifications, away from the challenges of the day- is the ultimate benefit. In the morning, it lets me set my intention for the day and has me already feeling accomplished. By the time I’m home, I’ve left work at work and taken in the sights and sounds on my leisurely ride through our beautiful city. It’s really that simple.

Meet Steve, he recently started a new position at Quality Bicycle Products, and can be seen riding around town with kitty litter panniers.

  1. Why do you bike to work?

I love riding my bike.  It’s a fun way to get around, interact with your world, and it’s also great exercise.  Biking gives me a sense of freedom  that you will never find trapped inside a car.  There’s tons of info that shows how you are more alert and productive when you start your day with some heart-pumping fitness.

  1. What is your favorite part of your commute?

I see what is happening in my town and interact with it. I don’t just whiz by oblivious to everything.  Commuting takes a little longer, so I’m out earlier and have time to not just say hello, but really talk to folks, make friends, share a thought, etc. I like that you can’t make excuses to not “work out” when just getting to and from home is your work out.

  1. What are the advantages to riding your bike (could be discounts at work, faster commute, seeing the city, etc.)?

Get in shape, be more aware of your town and what goes on, and getting away from the road rage and traffic jams that add unnecessary stress to your life are the top ones.  I take less traveled side streets, so I see Lancaster’s heart and soul. I work for QPB (Quality Bike Products), and they incentivize all employees to bike to work, carpool, or get there some other, greener way than one person in their car by giving you money that can be spent on anything they sell (bicycling and other sports equipment).  Plus they provide a locker room with showers, and indoor bike parking. There is also a fully equipped bike repair area you can use or have people there help you do repairs/upgrades, etc.. As populations increase, every workplace should think about alternatives to driving for getting to and from.  Also, I don’t add more pollution to our air and water.

And finally, meet Laura. Laura is one of our faithful Board Members and a favorite volunteer here at The Common Wheel. She is the Risk Manager for Burnham Holdings, Inc., and has quite the commute to work!

  1. Why do you bike to work?

I bike to work because it is an easy and cheap way to fit some exercise into my daily routine.  I have always loved riding and would try to fit it into weekends or days off.  I would pack up the bike and drive to a trail to ride,  but it never seemed to fit into my schedule as often as I would like.  During the week I would get up early to attend a 5:45 am spinning class. Finally last year I started participating  in the Slow Ride Lancaster and some of The Common Wheel’s social rides. I became more comfortable riding on the road and particularly in the city.  The gym membership no longer fit into my budget, so after some trial and error, I found an approximately 7 mile route that I enjoy riding to and from work.

  1. What is your favorite part of your commute?

There are many things I enjoy about commuting by bike to work. I love the last ¼ mile home through my neighborhood, as it is a slow decline on a wide road of a sleepy neighborhood and it is, after all, coming home.  I love the encouragement of my coworkers and the occasional “you rock” for riding in the cold, heat, rain, or whatever.  But mostly I love how commuting by bike lends itself to easy interaction (even if it is just a smile) with other people along the way. A wave at another bike commuter, good morning with a jogger, chinging my bike bell to kids in strollers, or an occasional brief conversation with a pedestrian while I am waiting at a light.

  1. What are the advantages to riding your bike (could be discounts at work, faster commute, seeing the city, etc.)?

Riding to work allows me time to wake up my brain in the morning before I get to work. I love to sleep. I will stay in bed until the last possible moment. If I am driving to work I get out of bed approximately a half hour before I need to be at work because it is only a 2 mile drive. This means I’m still waking up when I start my work day. If I am commuting via bike, I get up about a 15 minutes to a half hour before I need to leave. Then I have about a 40 minute ride and usually stop for coffee along my route. I start my work day feeling invigorated and awake.  The ride home gives me a chance to declutter my brain from all the ……….stuff that fills it at work. I have a chance to distress and leave the …….. stuff behind. I find I do not complain, or even talk about work as much when I get home after biking.

There are certainly days when I wake up feeling like I am just not that into it at day. I sometimes have to talk myself into getting on that bike and not taking a shortcut. But when I do ride, I am always glad I did. The reasons to ride far out number the excuses not to ride.

Want to get to know your city? Bike. Connect. Interact. You’ll be happier, healthier, and wealthier if you do. Let us help you  begin your bike journey.
Please reach out to us, or stop by our shop at 701 E. King St. (Reservoir Park) Tuesday – Friday 11am – 6pm or Saturday 10am – 3pm.

Good Rides, Good Vibes

So you have a bike…but where should you ride?

In our humble opinion, we think you should ride EVERYWHERE! But we know that might not always be a reality. So, we’ve rounded up a few favorite places to ride/rides to get you started.

Lancaster Central Market: What better place to go and stock up on fresh fruits, veggies, and other goods? Best part, they have fantastic bike parking!

Northwest River Rail Trail: Not into riding on the road? This beautiful rail trail goes from Columbia all the way to Bainbridge. Along the way, you can stop for lunch at one of Marietta’s awesome restaurants or pubs. Great for families, novice riders, or people who like to bike on a really pretty path.

Lancaster County Park: Looking for some mountain bike action? Hit the single track at County Park. Ride along the river, go uphill and downhill, and have a good time.

Slow Ride Lancaster: Join our friends at Slow Ride Lancaster (not an entity of The Common Wheel) for a family friendly slow ride through the streets of Lancaster every fourth Friday. This ride is perfect for people wanting to get more comfortable riding on the street.

TCW’s Full Moon Ride: Join us for our signature monthly ride where we go quick (but not too quick) through the city and the suburbs, all while howling at the moon (seriously, we howl at the moon. It is super fun).

TCW’s Summer Mountain Bike Rides: You know that trail we mentioned in County Park? Come ride with us every 1st and 3rd Wednesday this summer. We’ll leave from the shop at 6:30 and hit the trails. This is a beginner’s ride, and no one will be left behind. The only thing we can guarantee is a ton of fun.*

Come check out our selection of bikes to get you riding, or if you have bike, get it serviced! Let’s get you out riding and enjoying everything the bike life has to give!  Any questions? Please reach out to us, or stop by our shop at 701 E. King St. (Reservoir Park) Tuesday – Friday 11am – 6pm or Saturday 10am – 3pm.

 

*Have you noticed a theme? We like to have fun, and we love to share the fun! Let us help you get a smile on your face. 🙂

 

The ABCs of Bicycle Maintenance

Want to know if your bike is in tip top shape?

Meagan, our Lead Mechanic, has put together a simple ABC Bike Check to help you get rolling with a big smile on your face. However, if you cannot perform this check, or something doesn’t feel quite right with your bike, please bring it by the shop. We can assess your bike, give you an estimate, and get you back to riding (safely!) before you know it! Check out our website for more information on the services we offer.

The ABC bike check covers 3 systems on the bike for safe riding use.

A- Air Pressure: Your tire should be inflated to proper pressure, which is indicated on the side wall of your tire. Make sure you fill your tires to the recommended pressure range for efficient riding and to prevent damage to your tube and wheel.

B- Brakes: To check your brakes, grab each lever individually to make sure the brake pad stops the wheel before the lever is pulled to the handlebar. Visually check to see if the brake pads hit the rims squarely without rubbing the tire.

C- Cranks/Chain: Your cranks and chain should spin smoothly as you pedal.

While we gave you 3 things you should do to your bike, here is an article on 7 Bad Habits of Bicycle Maintenance. When in doubt, always contact your local, friendly bicycle shop to get you back on your bike safely! If you need any other assistance or more information, please reach out to us, or stop by our shop at 701 E. King St. (Reservoir Park) Tuesday – Friday 11am – 6pm or Saturday 10am – 3pm.

 

Find Your Bike Inspiration

More than a century ago, long before the automobile, there were bicycles– velocipedes. Simply two wheels and some sort of way to make them move, likely cranks and pedals, attached to one of the wheels was the norm. Then the idea of chains and gears became useful, which gave birth to the what we know today; two triangles with a wheel on each end.

At that point, the bicycle stopped being something you just pedaled around, and people started adding baskets and bags so they could roll out into the country and have a picnic. In 1897, what seems to be the first group bike packing trip happened.  Mark Twain even got in on the fun by writing about his attempts to harness the wild beast.  As the avant-garde 20’s roared in, the bicycle became more eccentric and outlandish.

Time continued to bring more color and flash to bicycles, and up and until the 80’s, steel, double triangle frames were abound, but the choices were still skinny road tires or balloon tires.  With the choices of aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber, as well as the new sport of mountain biking, bicycles designed for specific types of riding became the new normal.

After more than  hundred years of a standard design, the bike industry now touts so many different genres, styles, and types of bicycles that what was a simple decision thirty or forty years ago, is now a cacophony of choices that boggles the mind.

There are road bikes, gravel bikes, touring bikes, cyclocross, city, mountain, all mountain, rigid, hardtail, full suspension, 3-4-5-6-7-8 inches of travel, fat, mid-fat, road plus, mountain-plus, road-plus; with prices ranging from $200 to $20,000, and the list just keeps growing. There are a multitude of sizes and shapes, and a size in one brand may fit, while the same size in another brand may not.

So how do you even figure out how to begin?

With more than fifty years combined experience riding, racing, adventuring, touring, and living on bicycles, we can help you narrow your focus to find the ride that inspires you. Stop by the shop today to find the bike that suits your needs and personality the best.

If you need any other assistance or more information, please reach out to us, or stop by our shop at 701 E. King St. (Reservoir Park) Tuesday – Friday 11am – 6pm or Saturday 10am – 3pm.

 

Just Ride: A Series to Help Kickstart Your Life on a Bike

 

 

 

A little over three years ago, I started The Common Wheel with one true belief.

 

The more people we could get to ride bikes, the better our community (and the world) would be.

 

Bicycles are the perfect machine. They run on fat, save you money on gas and parking, are extremely affordable to own and repair, are good for our planet, and (most importantly) they are fun; making people happy and putting big, fat smiles on the faces of cherubic little kids and grizzled old men alike.  

 

The benefits go on and on but this article isn’t the space for it. If you’d like further reading, check out, “What Do You Mean “You Don’t Have A Bike”, by Mr. Money Mustache or 10 Reasons Hopping on Your Bike is the Best  Thing Ever.

 

May is National Bike Month and this week is Bike to Work Week. While we like to encourage people to ride to just about anywhere they need to transport their physical beings and not just their places of business, it’s a good excuse to shine the spotlight on how to get started, or more likely, re-acquainted with riding a bike (and not just at the beach!).

 

While bikes can be relatively simple, we know that the world of bikes is not. Bikes can range from that rusty, heavy beach cruiser you rent at the beach every year, to super-light (and super-expensive) carbon-fiber racing bikes that shift electronically. If you’re unfamiliar to this world and just want to figure out how to get from your home to the market and back comfortably, this can be a bit bewildering.

 

With that in mind, we are writing a series of posts that will help explain how you can get started on your path of becoming healthier, wealthier, and wiser through the power of a bike!

 

This week, we will cover:

 

  • What to think about when buying a bike
  • The importance of getting your existing bike serviced
  • Where to ride and local resources
  • How and why other local people started riding

 

We hope that these posts will help you and/or your friends and family get out on a bike soon.  In the meantime,  if you need any other assistance or more information, please reach out to us, or stop by our shop at 701 E. King St. (Reservoir Park) Tuesday – Friday 11am – 6pm or Saturday 10am – 3pm.
I hope to see you out on your own set of wheels soon.

 

Cheers,

 

Chris Caldwell

Founder and Chief Wheel Spinner

State Bicycle Co.

Today, we are excited to announce that we are now a State Bicycle Co. Authorized Dealer!

The decision to begin selling new bikes was one of careful consideration. We think that professionally recycling and refurbishing old bicycles is incredibly valuable on many levels, and used bikes will continue to be our focus.

Our mission is to improve lives through the power of bikes (not through the power of used bikes). We want to get the most butts on bikes, and more importantly, make sure that our customer’s experience on their bike is an enjoyable one that fits their needs.

Unfortunately, our inventory of used bikes doesn’t always match our customer’s needs. For example, we rarely ever see single-speed bikes, or step-through city bikes that are perfect for people just re-igniting their love for bicycles.

 

As the only State dealer in Lancaster and Central Pennsylvania, we are excited to offer these simple, yet stylish city bikes at affordable price points. We hope that by carrying them we can help more people discover the joys of everyday riding.

 

Stop by the shop to check out the new bikes in person!

 

200.

 

That’s right. 200. Between the hard work of The Common Wheel staff and amazing community volunteers, we had 200 bikes ready for kids in need in Lancaster last weekend! On a cold, snowy Saturday, our bike buddies were thrilled to welcome families from all over Lancaster and hand out refurbished bikes, helmets, and lights.

The Common Wheel crew looks forward to the Holiday Bike Drive all year. In fact, the entire process of getting 200 bikes into the hands of Lancaster youth begins long before the snow arrives. You might remember reading about our Holiday Bike Drive goals back in August, and it’s safe to say that we far exceeded those goals! To do so, it took a massive volunteer effort- with over 1,500 hours of volunteer time!
Volunteers helped pick up and deliver donated bikes from all around the county. Volunteers cleaned, refurbished, and prepared all of the youth bikes. Volunteers helped us with bike storage and transportation to and from the event. Volunteers helped to coordinate the event and assisted as Bike Buddies. Volunteers communicated with families, relayed information, and coped with the inclement weather of the day.
The Common Wheel Holiday Bike Drive was possible because of an incredible group of volunteers. For that, we are so grateful, and more importantly, kids all over the county with new bikes this holiday season are grateful.
At the event itself, I personally talked with over 50 kids about their new bikes. There were kids who told me how excited that they were to ride to school, Reservoir Park, or their friends’ houses. Others told me about their first bikes- ones that are now too small or “got messed up” or were stolen. Looking down at her new bike, one girl told me, “This is my first real bike.” And another told me, “Now, I can finally learn how to ride.”
We owe a big thank you to the School District of Lancaster Community School Directors pictured below. They do an amazing job connecting SDOL to our community, helping in countless ways and making an immeasurable impact on Lancaster. Without them, there would be no kids to ride all these bikes.
And last but not least, thank you to the Santa Spokes team who raised funds to support the Holiday Bike Drive, distributed snacks and refreshments the day of, and volunteered their time to make this day a success.

As you can see, we are already looking forward to next year!Santa’s Spokes – Lead Sponsor and Refreshments

Blakinger Thomas – Presenting Sponsor
Gall Laminating – Corporate Sponsor
Garden Spot Village – Corporate Sponsor
Lancaster General Health – Light Sponsor
Wilco Electric – Corporate Sponsor

In kind sponsors:

Mint Photobooth
QBP for providing volunteers
Rhoads Energy – Storage
Shumaker PDT – Transport
Summer Crow Photos

Ride bikes. Build community. Keep it wheel.

By Lija Diem Stoltzfus, Impact Director

100 Happy Faces

IMG_3531

 

Look at this picture. It’s from our holiday bike drive last year. Look closely at the boy’s face. No, not our awesome volunteer, Steven- I mean the boy on the bike. See that smile? Can you feel his genuine happiness? Can you sense his excitement? His pride? His potential? I assure you: each and every child who came in that day left with that look on their face. Because, in reality, a bike isn’t just a toy. It’s so much more than that. It’s freedom, community, camaraderie, unity, STEM skills, responsibility, connection, friendship, true adventure. It’s a gift way beyond a toy.

Every year since The Common Wheel started, we have held a bike drive for young people in need of bikes in the Lancaster community. It’s been some of the most important work we’ve done. The gift of a bike at a young age can literally transform lives. It’s a powerful gift, and the bike drive is a simple but kind of amazing way to directly improve the lives of young people in Lancaster through the power of bikes.

 

IMG_3474

 

Delivering Happiness

Last year, we were able to provide over 60 bikes to young people in Lancaster on one day in December. We were able to do that with the help and coordination of a few fantastic volunteers. As someone who actually attended the drive and met nearly every child there, I can tell you that it was a pretty incredible experience all around. So. Much. Happiness. In fact, so much so that we want to double that happiness this year. Yes, double. In order to do that, we’ve created a plan, but we need lots of help.

 

 

IMG_3528

100 Bikes

I know, I know. It is still July. But believe it or not, we have a lot of preparation to do to meet our goal of 100 bikes to 100 young people in Lancaster this holiday season. With our Holiday Bike Drive just over four months away, we have to get moving.

IMG_3487

 

So here’s the plan.

We have linked up with local schools to help us connect with families with children in need of bikes. There is never a shortage of kids in need of bikes. Like last year, we will be partnering with the Santa Spokes crew to distribute the bikes and helmets on the big day. But in order to put the rest in motion, we need some help with a few things.

 

IMG_3471

 

Get involved!

  1. Bike donations. While we do have a solid supply of kid’s bikes at the shop, we definitely need more in order to meet our goal of 100 bikes. So if you have a kid’s bike collecting dust in your garage, bring it on over to the shop! Shop hours: Tuesday-Friday, 11am-6pm; Saturday, 10am-3pm
  2. Financial donations. In order to make this program happen, it takes some investment on our part, so any financial help in that area is always welcome! Typically, each bike needs work and replacement parts to be a safe and secure, and we provide helmets for each young person who receives a bike. This year, we are also hoping to provide a lock and a t-shirt, but we can’t do that without support. To help support this event, you can easily donate by clicking HERE!
  3. Time donations. This is our biggest one. We are seeking volunteers to commit to two hours, one night a week for a month, to cleaning and fixing up bikes for kids. 100 is a massive number of kid’s bikes, and while our staff is amazing, they can’t do it all and run the shop. The good news is that we welcome volunteers of all skill levels, so everyone can help with the effort. This consistent volunteer time will allow you to set a steady schedule, build your skills, and maximize your bicycle impact for young people of Lancaster. While the day of week will vary month to month, the time will always be 6:30-8:30pm at the shop at Reservoir Park. To sign up for your month, send us email at volunteers@thecommonwheel.com!

                  August: Wednesday

                  September: Thursday

                  October: Tuesday

                  November: Thursday

 

IMG_3468

 

We can’t even begin to tell you how excited we are about kicking off the preparation for this event. It’s a lot of work, but it’s some truly rewarding stuff. Not to be dramatic, but it’s kind of life-changing. If we meet this year’s goal, our combined Holiday Bike Drive totals will extended well beyond 200 bikes for young people in Lancaster in just over two years in existence. Imagine what we will be able to do in five years! Or ten! (P.S. If you ever feel down, I recommend imagining how big and amazing we can make this event in the next few years!)

So there it is. You’ve got the info. You’ve got the links. You know how to get involved. So make a plan and start today. We are confident that the friends of The Common Wheel will support us in our goal to see 100 happy faces this December. Because really- we need more smiles like these in this world!

 

IMG_3385

IMG_3387

IMG_3430

IMG_3453

IMG_3505

IMG_3519


IMG_3396

IMG_3397

IMG_3481

IMG_3508

 

Ride bikes. Build community. Keep it wheel.

By Lija Diem Stoltzfus, Impact Director

Can I do Earn A Bike twice?

Darius wants to know. Can he do Earn A Bike twice? And he’s serious. Look at his face. It’s the face of someone who wants to keep working with bikes. And he’s not the only one.

 

IMG_4048

 

One thing that we can confidently say about Earn A Bike is that there is never a shortage of participants; in fact, we always have a waiting list. And while we don’t offer repeat sessions for Earn A Bike classes (sorry, Darius), we do welcome many of our participants back to the shop to take more advanced classes, to assist with other Earn A Bike groups, and even to help as regular volunteers. If you look closely at the picture below, you might notice that two former Earn A Bike graduates; Damascene and Tyler, who both regularly help out at the shop, graduated just over two years ago.

 

IMG_4114

And that, in and of itself, speaks volumes. Our shop isn’t just a place where people stop in once. It’s a place where we build relationships and a community of learners committed to bike life. With each Earn A Bike graduation, we consider it one of our greatest successes when graduates return to work beside us.

The Follow-Up

This fantastic group of Earn A Bike grads was impressive as usual, and we thought you might want to hear their thoughts on their experience. Because while we could tell you all day about the greatness of it all, as one of the primary communities we aim to serve, their opinions are what we all care about much more. These are the things that they told me.

 

Raessa.

IMG_4031

Most Useful Skill: fixing a flat & learning about brakes

Favorite Part of Earn A Bike: learning about brakes (because she likes complicated things)

What She’d Tell Friends About Earn A Bike: Join and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and have fun!

Biggest Take Away According To Raessa: It’s important to go at your own pace and keep a strong mind and attitude.

 

 

Aidan.

IMG_4061

Most Useful Skill: fixing a flat

Favorite Part of Earn A Bike: going for a ride as a group

What He’d Tell Friends About Earn A Bike: If you like finding out how things work, you should do it.

Biggest Take Away According To Aidan: He loves that The Common Wheel is a local community bike center- with his emphasis on the local aspect of it.

 

Darius.

IMG_4065

Most Useful Skill: fixing a flat

Favorite Part of Earn A Bike: meeting new people and building his bike

What He’d Tell Friends About Earn A Bike: “I’d go again, because it’s awesome!”

Biggest Take Away According To Darius: Repetition, repetition, repetition. Darius made sure that I knew that he learned the importance of repetition through his experience at Earn A Bike.

 

 

Tyrese.

IMG_4041

Most Useful Skill: learning how to build a bike

Favorite Part of Earn A Bike: meeting everyone

What He’d Tell Friends About Earn A Bike: It’s fun, and be sure to pick a good bike!

Biggest Take Away According To Tyrese: Perfect attendance pays off.

 

 

Solomon.

IMG_4070

Most Useful Skill: knowing where to find the tools and resources to help with your bike

Favorite Part of Earn A Bike: working with tires & wheels

What He’d Tell Friends About Earn A Bike: “Just come!”

Biggest Take Away According To Solomon: Jason is the best!

 

 

Nolan.

IMG_4046

Most Useful Skill: All of the skills are useful!

Favorite Part of Earn A Bike: He now has a bike and the knowledge to fix it.

What He’d Tell Friends About Earn A Bike: Yes- do it!

Biggest Take Away According To Nolan: That he doesn’t just have skills, but he has skills that he will actually use.

 

 

Marquise.

IMG_4062

Most Useful Skill: learning to ride his bike safely with the group

Favorite Part of Earn A Bike: earning his bike

What He’d Tell Friends About Earn A Bike: the when and where!

Biggest Take Away According To Marquise: He loved working at a real bike shop and wished he could stay longer.

 

 

Monguiko.

IMG_4068

Most Useful Skill: fixing a flat

Favorite Part of Earn A Bike: making new friends

What He’d Tell Friends About Earn A Bike: You should try it!

Biggest Take Away According To Monguiko: I’ll be back to work on bikes and learn from Jason.

 

The Reason

The reason that I took the time to talk with, get to know, and write about each individual Earn A Bike graduate is because input from the community we serve is important. Each one of these students matters, and their growth as a result of this class matters. Each one of them offered some new insight into the ways Earn A Bike affected and improved their lives. And one thing that I can now say with certainty is that this was a meaningful experience for them- an experience that they are clearly grateful for.

For the record, I did try to pry some sort of constructive criticism from each of them about Earn A Bike. Something that could be improved? Something that wasn’t quite enough? Some skill that was missed? You know what almost everyone said?

 

Make it longer.

 

Let us do it again.

 

Take us on a field trip to ride farther.

 

And if those are the biggest criticisms, we are onto something important and valuable here.

 

IMG_4122

 

If you, your company or organization, or someone you know is interested in sponsoring an Earn A Bike student, an Earn A Bike class, or maybe even a year of Earn A Bike classes at The Common Wheel, please reach out to us at lija@thecommonwheel.com. Sponsorships are always in need for these awesome young people, and we love partnering with the community!

 

Ride bikes. Build community. Keep it wheel.

By Lija Diem Stoltzfus, Impact Director

How to see 360° of Lancaster

Here’s the thing. The whole world looks different when you’re on a bike. You see things.

 

No, I mean, you really see things.

 

You see that elderly neighbor on her porch that’s always hoping for a friendly wave. You notice that new restaurant and remind yourself to take your friends there. You see cobblestones peaking out from beneath the pavement and think about the diverse history of your city. Okay, maybe that last one is just me. But it’s true that you can see so much more on two wheels than four; instead of a single dimension, you see 360° of your city.

 

unnamed

Meet Eva.

 

Last year at this time, Eva Dombrowski was driving to work. In fact, Eva was driving everywhere. While she had been riding a bike since she was 13 (self-taught, naturally), she just couldn’t see herself riding the almost two miles to work. Then, as spring began to set in, Eva wanted to get more active, and she made the choice to prioritize biking. She recalls, “I was on the phone with my friend, Amanda, and I said, ‘Amanda, I think I’m going to try biking to work.’” Almost four months later, Eva bikes to work, to her friend’s houses, to the market and stores, and even out to dinner. She feels stronger, her body feels healthier, and she feels better about her transit life. And she emphasizes: she now truly sees 360° of her city.

 

A naturally curious person, Eva was determined to learn more about her bike and become a more informed rider, so she enrolled in our Adult Repair Class. Through the class, she expanded her basic bicycle vocabulary, learned to fix and repair her tires, and improved her bicycle diagnostic skills, and she finally knows how to tell when her brake pads need to be replaced. Moreover, she now feels more connected to the Lancaster bicycle community and sees the sights and sounds of the city with new eyes.

 

unnamed (1)

Motivations & Expectations

 

I sat down to talk with Eva last week to get to the bottom of her motivations for taking the Adult Repair Class – since not everyone chooses to take it to the next level with their bike education. First, Eva explained that she is an experiential learner who wanted to really know the ins and outs of her bike and generally be more informed about her riding. She told me, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and she’s right. Most of the time, it’s not until we are in jam that we realize that we really don’t know something thoroughly.

 

While Eva had no specific expectations for the class, she hoped that the course would ultimately get her biking more and help guarantee her safe arrival at her destination. From the first day, she said that she immediately felt comfortable in The Common Wheel space and found the accessibility of the bike mechanics to be a real asset for learning; she also felt that she could act out of curiosity with plenty of “as needed” guidance. She did, however, mention that she wished that our workspace was bigger since the shop has to close to the public during class time.

 

unnamed (2)

 

That led me to wonder: what other kind of things do people envision for The Common Wheel? So naturally, I asked Eva. Eva responded by first addressing advocacy for biking in the city as well as for non-traditional transportation (non-traditional by U.S. standards, that is.) She would love to see more systemic change and broader education to help people understand the benefits of bikes, and she would like to see The Common Wheel more involved in that. And The Common Wheel, according to Eva, should continue to do a lot of what it already does- like inform people of all ages about bikes, prepare bikers and used bikes for the road, teach bike repair skills, and make it possible for all bikers of all experience levels to have a resource.

 

A Year Ago Today

 

Because- and this is important- a year ago today, Eva never really thought that she would be biking back and forth to work. Her choice to make the change to bike to work was the first step, but it was also vital that she accessed her resources, educated herself about her bike. and connected herself to a supportive bicycling community. The Common Wheel was able to offer that resource, that education, and that community to her.

 

unnamed (3)

 

Eva’s life is different now than it was a year ago, and that, for her, is a good thing. For one, Eva knows more- enough to call herself a biker. She also feels better, stronger, and healthier- which is some pretty powerful stuff. She is now a bike advocate too- just by sharing her story. And she really sees her community differently too- as she says- all 360° of it.

 

Ride bikes. Build community. Keep it wheel.

By Lija Diem Stoltzfus, Impact Director