One Earth Film Festival Returns to Chicago this Spring

     

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One Earth Film Festival motivates Chicago to go “All In” for planet Earth in 2019.

     Springtime always brings excitement to J.C. Lind Bike Co. every year. Weather bounces between balmy and freezing rain; meanwhile customers, phone calls, and emails come pouring in, as do shipments of bikes we’ve ordered from across the continent and the world. All that excitement isn’t restricted to the business of running a bike shop, though, and the One Earth Film Festival is one of those things that we look forward to every year that happens outside the shop’s doors.

     This year the lineup of movies being shown at OEFF promises to impress and the programming that accompanies them we trust will be similarly thoughtful and insightful. It’s often a critique of environmental documentaries that they leave us feeling like the world is terrible, horrible, the situation is grim, and now we’re worse off than we were because prior to seeing the movie we were living in blissful ignorance. One Earth Film Festival is unique in that the festival’s organizers don’t just screen a movie; they put on an event that’s designed to give viewers the opportunity to take action on the topic just discussed, in order to make a positive difference in their little part of the world.

     In that same vein, we at the Shop try to be intentional about acting in ways that reflect what we learn from these movies. For us, that most often means riding our bikes! (Maybe that’s self-evident). We usually use the OEFF as an opportunity to do some kind of a planned ride to one or multiple screenings of movies. Sometimes we end up involved in the events tied to the screenings (as is the case this year). So, without further ado, let’s talk about the movie we’re greatly anticipating this year: Why We Cycle!

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         The story of how this movie came to the One Earth Film Festival is an interesting prologue that we were actually lucky to be involved in. Back in October of 2018, we got word from a customer of ours in Minneapolis about Why We Cycle, who sent the trailer our way knowing that we were a Dutch bike shop and we’d likely be interested in seeing it.

     We were so excited about the movie we contacted the filmmakers to see whether we could screen it at the shop. We quickly realized the logistics of hosting events at the bike shop pose more problems than we have the bandwidth to solve! It then dawned on us that there’s an organization that would be delighted and more than capable of screening the film if they could get approval from the directors. That organization is One Earth Film Festival. Over the several years we’ve been attending the film festival, we’ve talked with OEFF Director Ana Garcia Doyle about our shared desire for more documentaries about transportation and bicycling. It was only natural that we come to her with news about the movie’s existence, which leads us to today.

     Dutch filmmakers Gertjan Hulster, Arne Gielen, Marco te Brömmelstroet, and Jeroen Dirks bring us the movie Why We Cycle, a documentary which is truly a portrait of Dutch people, their motivations, joys, and rationales for riding bikes as much as they do. This year One Earth Film Festival was able to bring Gertjan Hulster and Arne Gielen to Chicago to be present for a Q&A following the March 9th screening of their film.

     This film, for a Dutch bike shop such as we are, is a really special moment to geek out over a passion we share with the Dutch and also spread it to Chicagoans in a unique context that is decidedly not a bike shop. Having said that, some readers may be excited to know that J.C. Lind’s own Jon Lind will be a part of a post-screening panel on March 2nd at the Oak Park Library. We will also be tabling following both screenings of the film to give viewers ideas and tangible ways that they can make a big local impact when it comes to bicycling and the environment. We advise that you book your tickets online in advance (there is a suggested donation), because these showings can and do sell out. Come join us!

Amsterdam Diaries Part 10- TwoTone Amsterdam Visit

Friday December 16, 2016 Continued

One of the first appointments I locked down for this trip was to meet up with Jon Woodroof. Jon is the founder of TwoTone Amsterdam, a consulting/PR agency that does work with innovative start ups including many companies in the cycling industry. They also happen to have a really entertaining newsletter that I always find to be a worthy read. For a quick intro to Jon, check out this recent interview of him from Amsterdam based startup Headroom.

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A peek inside the Twotone Amsterdam space

Flashback to September 2010…

I first met Jon back in 2010 when he was visiting Chicago from Atlanta with his wife and their son and they rented a Bakfiets from us (disclaimer- we no longer offer rentals at The Shop). It was really great meeting them and Jon was super into what we were doing importing Dutch bikes to the U.S. as he had previously ran a bike shop of his own in Atlanta.

Chicago Trip, write up coming soon

photo credit – Jon Woodroof

Chicago Trip, write up coming soon

photo credit – Jon Woodroof

For more sweet pics of their time in Chicago including some early days shots of The Shop, check out Jon’s flickr photo album.

We stayed in contact for a while through social media and I remember seeing pictures online of his wife’s bike; a first generation Civia Loring (a bike we used to sell and one that deserves it’s own post on our blog as it was such a beautifully crafted city bike).

Fast forward to September 2015…

While on another one of my trips visiting Amsterdam and what do I see in the service shop at Workcycles… a Civia Loring.

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The Civia Loring all Dutchified with Clarijs panniers, child back rest and a Bobike mini child seat mount.

Seeing a U.S. bike brand like Civia in Holland certainly got my attention but that alone wasn’t enough to make the connection it was Jon’s wife’s bike. Then later that same day while getting a quick demo of Workcycles’ point of sale software, I noticed the name Woodroof in their work order queue and quickly put two and two together.

I was excited to learn that Jon and his family had made the move from the US to Amsterdam. I then joined Jon’s TwoTone Amsterdam newsletter and made a mental note to try and connect with him on a future trip. Which brings me to my visit today with Jon.

Fast forward to now (December 2016)… 

After spending some of my afternoon with Henry Cutler at Workcycles, I made the hop skip and a jump bike ride over to TwoTone’s work space.

I booked my meet up with Jon for Friday afternoon with the intention we could have a beer together heading into the weekend. But we were both completely zapped from a long week so the happy hour idea never got off the ground.

It was a really nice time catching up and hearing how he is pulling off the dream of settling down in Amsterdam with his wife and raising their kids. As someone who loves bikes as much as Jon does, he sure has found himself in no better place on earth to live out his cycling passions on a daily basis both professionally and personally. I often think about pulling up stakes and making Amsterdam home again someday and it’s super encouraging to hear from people who make it happen.

It was also cool sharing with Jon what The Shop has been up to lately and what I have in mind for the years ahead. If I could draw one parallel between us, aside from both being no ‘h’er Jon’s, I would say it’s the passion we put into what we do and how much of that is derived from the partners (in his case clients, in our case suppliers) we choose to support and represent.

Speaking of, we will be representing TwoTone Amsterdam here at The Shop with a nice supply of their sweet TwoTone Amsterdam x VERA bike caps.

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We have a small shipment of these fresh lids on order. Stay tuned to the blog for updates on their imminent arrival.

Thank you Jon for taking the time to meet up. We will leave that beer for next time!

Well that’s all folks! I appreciate you taking the time to join me on this ride. This was undoubtedly my most productive trip back to Holland. It was fantastic to learn more about this little corner of the bike industry that we are a part of and see for my own eyes how many of our suppliers do what they do. I am heading home to Chicago with my passion for everything Dutch bikes fully stoked and more excited than ever for the future of The Shop.

Until next time Amsterdam.

-Jon

Amsterdam Diaries Part 9- Coffee With Pete Jordan

Friday December 16, 2016   

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Back when I was making out the schedule for this trip, my strategy was to get the supplier visits locked down first and then leave some open room for meeting other relevant, interesting people. High on my list of people I wanted to meet was Pete Jordan.

Pete Jordan is an American who has lived in Amsterdam since 2002. He is also the author of the book ‘In The City Of Bikes: The Story Of The Amsterdam Cyclist’. This book first came to my attention from a customer’s recommendation a few years ago. It is hands down the most entertaining and informative book I’ve ever read about Dutch bikes and the history of biking in Amsterdam. If you are into Dutch bikes, this is must read stuff here.

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I’ve read Pete’s book cover to cover twice now and I often go back to reference specific sections like Chapter 6 where he highlights the key factors that have lead to the Dutch obsession with bikes and how it contrasts with the United States’ obsession with cars. I dwell on this section of the book a lot as someone who dreams of cities like Chicago someday resembling Amsterdam with a constant stream of bikes up and down every street. This chapter is a bit of a double edged sword; it’s inspiring for me to read about the Dutch biking culture but equally depressing reading about how historically ingrained the car culture is in the US.

When I first finished his book, I was inspired to meet Pete someday. I really wanted to meet this fellow American expat who moved to Amsterdam and was as nuts about Dutch bikes as I was. Our lives followed similar trajectories up until a point; that point being when I decided to move back and sell Dutch bikes. Pete on the other hand decided to stay and make Amsterdam his permanent home.

I reached out to Pete a few months before my trip to try and arrange a meet up. I was really excited when I heard back that he was available and up for it. After I got to Holland we settled on a place and time and met for a coffee at de Wasserette (Dutch for The Laundry) in De Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam.

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This cafe provided the backdrop of our conversation

We hung out for about an hour and had some great conversation. It was really cool and kind of strange, having read his book I felt like I knew him already and was catching up with an old friend. Pete is an easygoing and friendly guy, it certainly helped that we have such a strong commonality in our passion for all things Dutch bikes.

In addition to being an accomplished author, Pete also happens to be a talented photographer. I picked Pete’s brain about how to capture and share the experience of Dutch biking. When I come to Amsterdam on these trips this is something that I always try to do but can be really difficult. I want to make this experience available in the virtual sense to the J.C. Lind family, where they feel like they are a part of the action. I mentioned to Pete how it can be frustrating when you either can’t get your camera ready fast enough to capture a Mom biking by with 5 kids on her bike, or, right after you put your camera down the action you’ve been patiently waiting for rolls right past you. Pete made a good suggestion which is to narrow the focus of what you want to capture. So you tune your radar, turn it into a fun challenging game and only pull your camera out for that preordained theme you’ve chosen to capture; ie. people transporting their Christmas trees on their bike. For a prime example of his strategy in action, check out this post from the Workcycles blog (Beldoppen: Why Only Some People Can Be Artists) about a really cool photography project of Pete’s.

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De Lairessestraat – a highly trafficked street in the Oud-Zuid (Old South) neighborhood of Amsterdam

I took the above photo the day after I met with Pete as this particular street came up during our chat. This is De Lairessestraat, a long straight street that runs the entire length of the linear Vondelpark (Amsterdam’s iconic city park). It is an arterial street, highly trafficked by many modes of transport as you can see. It also happens to be a street that has what in Dutch terms is inferior bicycle infrastructure. Cyclists have no protections from motorized traffic and have to share a narrow space with parked cars to their right and trams/cars/buses to their left. Pete mentioned that Amsterdam’s city hall is currently discussing potential improvements to make this street safer for cyclists. Just like here in the states, they have the same NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) folks who object because they don’t want to lose their parking spots. However, Pete pointed out very casually that this being Amsterdam the city council ultimately will side with the cyclists.

It was encouraging and refreshing to hear such places exist where the local government prioritizes cycling. It hasn’t always been this way in Holland. One of the key takeaways from Pete’s book for me was that the Dutch biking culture is not something that just came naturally or without any resistance or effort, the Dutch have had to fight long and hard for it.

I recommend checking out the above YouTube of Pete’s appearance on David Letterman while he was promoting his first book ‘Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All 50 States’. Not only is the video hilarious but it will also give you a great introduction to Pete. I haven’t read ‘Dishwasher’ yet but I just ordered a copy and it is next up in my reading list.

We have ‘In The City Of Bikes’ in stock at The Shop and I gotta say, I get almost as much joy from selling a copy of Pete’s book as I do from selling a bike. Thank you kindly Pete for taking the time to meet with me, I hope to see you again the next time around.

The sun is starting to set on this trip, stay tuned for my final entry where I’ll wrap things up.

-Jon

Amsterdam Diaries Part 7- Bicicapace Visit

Thursday December 15, 2016

After three days of exhausting travel by train and bike throughout most of the country, it was nice to sleep in a little and only have a 10 minute bike ride to the next bullet on my itinerary. That bullet being a meet up with Bicicapace, a young cargo bike brand out of Milan Italy with whom we’d been in touch for about a year.

Once I had booked my trip to Amsterdam, I reached out to Stefano from Bicicapace to see if it would be possible to test ride their bikes during my visit. As luck would have it, our schedules aligned and they were going to be passing through town on dealer visits around the same time.

I was thrilled to finally be getting a chance to see and ride their bikes after a long period of looking at pictures and reading about them online. Bicicapace makes three models, the Classic, JustLong and Sport. I was able to try out both the Sport and the JustLong.

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Bicicapace JustLong with Sport model and my Brompton in background

Right out of the gate the JustLong fits seamlessly with what we offer at The Shop. It is a dedicated family truckster cargo bike, capable of transporting two kids on the long rear rack with Yepp seats or on a cushion for older kids. When I rode it, it handled really well and I was pleasantly surprised with how stable it felt even with a full size adult passenger on the back. The 20 inch wheels keep the center of gravity nice and low, and the low step through frame make it a great option for a wide range of rider sizes.

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The JustLong rear armature ring is a kiddie retention system that also doubles as a basket for other cargo as seen in the picture below.

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When riding on the back it’s good to have a place to put your feet.

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The JustLong rear rack is compatible with one or two Yepp Maxi Easyfit seats.

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The JustLong comes with Option A- Folding Flatbed front rack (above). Or Option B- 80 liter PVC/Cordura front mounted bag (below).

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The Sport model, as the name implies, is sportier and less upright than most of the bikes we sell. The handling of the Sport was responsive, making it an agile bike, perhaps better suited for messengers or somebody who wants to carry cargo without siting bolt upright.

So you’re probably wondering whether you will be able to see these in Chicago anytime soon? I’m happy to report the answer is yes. We have a shipment from Bicicapace arriving imminently. Stay tuned to our website and social media channels for news of their arrival.

But wait, that’s not all! Stefano and Claudia also introduced me to Velo-ce, a brand of stylish Italian city bikes. High on looks without sacrificing on smart practical features. This spring we will be bringing in the Classic Draisina. Dyno powered lights, roller brakes, internal gearing, 2 leg center stand with fork spring, chain case and Brooks saddle. These are all of the types of things we are into here at J.C. Lind Bike Co. These also happen to be the things which unfortunately are hard to find in most bikes.

 

Velo-ce Draisina Classic Green

The Velo-ce Draisina Classic in Verde Pastello

It felt great knowing I’d be returning home having successfully scouted out some new blood for the shop. This is one of the big reasons why I make these trips. Discovering bike brands I never knew existed before and getting some valuable hands on experience with new product.

Thank you very much Stefano and Claudia for making the trip to Amsterdam, next time I think I’ll have to come and see you in Milan.

My morning visit with Bicicapace complete, I had the whole day ahead of me to explore Amsterdam on my bike and drop in on the guys at Workcycles. Check back for the next installment as my trip keeps rolling on.

-Jon

Amsterdam Diaries Part 1- Planes, Trains & Bromptons

This past December I took a 9 day trip back to my home away from home, Amsterdam. My normal modus operandi on recent trips has been to spend time with friends, revisit old haunts, keep a casual eye out for any new potential products, and if any business related ventures were to take place, it would be checking in with our key suppliers, like Workcycles. I would always return from these trips feeling re-energized, having had my passion for Dutch biking batteries recharged. But, I would also be left feeling like I could’ve done more if I was more pro-active in my pre-trip planning.

This go-around, I decided it was time to change up the rhythm. On this trip, I wanted to visit with as many of our existing (and new) suppliers as I could. I also wanted to take it a step further and see the factories where most of the products we sell are made. So after booking my flight, I went to work planning and scheduling what I would be doing each day so that all my little duckies were in a row before I arrived. I won’t lie, it was time consuming work to line up all the moving parts, logistics, and people’s schedules. But, well worth it for the peace of mind knowing I had a direction and goals to fulfill on this trip.

This plan of mine to make this a real ‘business trip’ was part of the reason my girl Molly Rose didn’t come along. Although I’m sure she would’ve been fine entertaining herself, ultimately the few affordable airfare dates I could find didn’t work out scheduling wise. Sorry babes, next time!

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All packed and ready to go. It’s pretty easy to spot the bike nerd by the luggage they use 🙂

This past fall, after a few years of wanting one, I bought a Brompton folding bike. I still can’t help but scratch my head and laugh at the absurdity of bringing a bike to Holland. After all, my thing is importing bikes from Holland. Not to mention there are more bikes there than people, talk about bringing sand to the beach 😉

I got a chance to test out traveling with my Brompton on a flight to Denver and was surprised with how easy it was. Packed up in the B-bag shown above it fits within the size and weight limits of standard luggage so you can check it without much hassle. I’m hooked and gotta say it’s a pretty damn empowering feeling sitting on the plane knowing you’ll have a bike with you when you get to your destination.

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Getting ready to touch down at Schiphol Airport. Winters can be quite bleak in Holland so you never know how much sun you’re going to get, if any. This time it turned out I was really lucky  with almost no rain, temps in the upper 30’s and mid 40’s (F) and even a few days of sun.

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Schiphol Airport. In my experience the cleanest and coolest airport there is, almost worth the transatlantic flight alone. Walking off the plane and seeing familiar sights even as mundane as the yellow directional signs gives me a good feeling of being back in Amsterdam. I get pretty bad jet lag, too, so all the stimuli of this airport really helps to fight off the grogginess.

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They made a section of the floor at Schiphol transparent so you can watch the baggage going down the conveyor belt as it makes it’s way to the baggage claim. Totally unnecessary but also an awesome design feature.

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More radness at Schiphol: a two way phone similar to what they have in prisons. But in this case so you can chat with your loved ones while they are waiting for their luggage to arrive.

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The only bad mark I could give on my airport experience was the long line to purchase train tickets. The wait was longer than the actual train ride to get into town. You can use credit cards at these automated machines (something I don’t remember being able to do in past trips) and they also had live tellers which is where I ended up going. The extra fee for using the teller is nominal and worth it as there’s nothing slower than a bunch of tourists trying to figure out how to use the automated machines for the first time.

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All aboard the train from Schiphol headed to the RAI station. Not even in Amsterdam yet and already seeing two bikes on my train ride. That’s how you know you’ve come to the right place, my friends.

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I took this (admittedly crappy photo) as I walked out from the RAI station in Amsterdam. If you look closely, both of those riders have little kids in front handlebar mounted Yepp Mini baby seats. It’s a sight that would blow my mind and make my day if it was anywhere in the states. But in bike-happy Amsterdam, this is no big deal. (Also notice how the bicyclers aren’t wearing helmets, and furthermore, not being corrected or criticized for this behavior by a bystander or a motorist, because the helmet-less bicyclists are actually the majority here).

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A nourishing breakfast made by my good friend JL. They call this Uitsmijter (pronounced “OUTS-my-ter”). We call it toast with eggs, bacon and cheese, served open face and consumed with a fork and knife.

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It’s not what it looks like! First order of business was to return these empties. That’s JL there, he hosted a holiday party a few days before my arrival which is where all the empty Freddies (a homage to Alfred Heineken) came from.

I love that they have an effective system where the bottles get returned and then reused. I think it works out to a 20 euro cent deposit per bottle so you get about 5 euro per case upon return.

Initially I was annoyed that the first thing we would be doing after arriving in Amsterdam was an errand in a car. But then I got to do one of my favorite things which is grocery shop in a foreign country; something (for me) that can rival even Schiphol Airport in anti-jet lag stimuli.

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You scan all your items on your phone as you are shopping and relay that from your phone at the self check out! It’s almost like we’re 5 years behind in the U.S. and going to Amsterdam is like going to the future.

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The cool Dutch design wasn’t over with yet. I couldn’t help but notice how well lit and visibly marked this pedestrian walkway was in the parking garage. Then as we exited the garage all we did was pull up and the gates opened without having to deal with a ticket. JL explained that they scan your license plate on the way in and if you are there for less than 90 minutes it just lets you out free of charge. Nifty, even if it is something that makes driving cars more convenient.

Ok, time to get into what I really came for. Hanging with my Dutch friends is a huge bonus, but this was a business trip after all. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I visit with Clarijs, makers of the awesome bike panniers and cargo bike rain covers that we sell at The Shop.

-Jon