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!

Putting the Tour in Tour Populair

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This past Spring we sold a pair of Gazelle Tour Populair bikes to Bill and his wife Mary. I remember Bill mentioning that they intended to do some touring with their Dutch bikes. I thought the idea was rad, albeit a little unconventional since these bikes are more ideally suited for short trips in flat cities.

I’ve never done any bike touring myself, although I love hearing from people about their bike travels and reading about them online (like this one, which I discovered from a recent TwoTone Amsterdam newsletter). So my lack of experience with bike touring has nothing to do with a lack of interest, quite the opposite. I would just chalk it up on the long list of things I’d do if I wasn’t busy running The Shop during the nice weather months.

So I was pretty excited when I received an email the other day from Bill with pictures from their recently completed bike tour on their Tour Populair bikes. I was intrigued to learn more about their trip and asked Bill a few questions and he was kind enough to oblige and let me share their story here on our blog. So here goes…

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Jon: We normally sell the Tour Populair as an in town city transport bike. What
made you decide to actually tour on a Tour Populair?

Bill: Always wanted to do a multi-day tour and with the comfort and easy riding of the Tour Populair I thought it would be doable as long as we did a bike trail and not normal traffic roads. We also chose the bikes because my wife has had some back and shoulder issues and this is really the first bike she has ridden that was comfortable. She wanted a recumbent bike but I didn’t like the idea of transporting that type of bike and the longer profile on the road to me seemed like a safety issue with car traffic. Also the recumbent bikes are a lot more expensive and really aren’t any better quality.

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Jon: How did the bikes perform based on what you were expecting going into the
trip?

Bill: The bikes preformed great as long as you understand that you are not riding a fast bike, just a very comfortable bike. With bike trails made from old railroad routes we have the benefit of normally not having much in the way of hills. Obviously Holland is very flat and the bikes perform best staying away from the hills. Being on a multi-day tour is not a training ride and accepting that we wanted to enjoy the trip and not cover a lot of miles each day is really important. Another advantage to this type of bike was that adding weight for items you need to take is not as much of an issue as with a lighter bike. Many normal bikes loaded with gear become un-stable and difficult to stop and handle, with the Tour Populair we did not experience any of this, the difference in riding the bike with 25 additional pounds on it is really not that noticeable. 

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Jon: What trail or trails did you ride on?

Bill: We rode the GAP Trail, (Greater Allegheny Passage) from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD The trail length is 150 miles which we did over a five day, four night period. We took our bikes from South Bend, IN to Pittsburgh on Amtrak and then returned from Cumberland to South Bend on Amtrak. It was a great way to go and bikes were $20 each / each way. Our longest day was 35 miles, shortest was 26 miles. Riding South from Pittsburgh the trail is up-hill until the Eastern Continental Divide, making the last 24 miles down-hill. The up-hill was a bit taxing but it is gradual, not more than a 2% grade but it is continual so we took lots of stops and there is a lot to stop and look at on the route. Most days we started between 9:00 and 10:00 and arrived at our B&B or Hotel by 3:00 to 4:00. Lots of miles of 6-8 mph. You could ride the route the other direction but then the first day is all up-hill at a much steeper incline that what we rode. Our last day was very little up-hill and 24 miles of coasting!

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Jon: How much gear did you have with you and how did you carry it?

Bill: We carried clothes, snacks, personal items and some tools for the bikes which we never had to use. We both had Ortlieb Ultimate6 S Classic front bags. We used one pair of Ortlieb Sport-Packer Plus panniers that are normally a small front bag, these went on my wife’s bike. I used a pair of Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers on my bike. We had plenty of room for everything we needed and the bags were great both on the bike and as luggage on the train ride. Although we didn’t see any bikes like ours being used on the trail we did see plenty of Ortlieb bags in use, by far it was the most popular brand we saw.

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Interested in doing a similar trip? Here is a website (http://www.bikecando.com/) that Bill found to be extremely useful when they were planning theirs. It has a lot of information on both the GAP Trail (Greater Allegheny Passage) as well as the C&O Canal Towpath trail which heads east all the way to Washington D.C.

Many thanks to Bill and Mary for sharing their adventure. You’ve certainly gotten me to look at the Gazelle Tour Populair in a whole new light.

Happy trails!

-Jon

Photo Credits: Bill (all photos except map which is from gaptrail.org)

Failure is not an option (not!!)

A bicycle is a tool. It’s a tool that we at J.C. Lind are kind of obsessed with and think is really a fun and efficient way to get around. But like any tool, you must be taught how to properly use it.

In high school I made somewhat of a name for myself simply by riding my bike to school. Can you imagine the kind of school where doing this simple thing would bring me notoriety? A suburban school on the edge of a cornfield in northeast Indiana. Almost no one rode a bike around town, least of all to school, where whether you had a car, and what type, was a definite status symbol. However, somehow (inexplicably) it was also a status symbol if you were different. Not in a weird way, because kids who were different in a weird way were penalized (via swirlies, purple-nirples, and the ol’ fashioned getting shoved into a locker) by the high school social structure.

 

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It was a thrilling high school experience for all involved. (1)

 

But if you were different in a way that turned heads, in a way that showed you were so confident in yourself you would do something so irregular, so against the grain and be so nonchalant about it, if you were different in that I’m-wearing-tight-spandex-and-I’m-confident-in-my-sexuality/masculinity way (because that’s how it was interpreted by high school kids back then), well… that was status you could attain without good looks or a cool car (and believe me, I did not exactly have those).

 

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The esteemed author in one of his finest displays of dividing his face into two distinct expressions. (Actual school photo)

 

What the other kids didn’t know was that I wasn’t confident, wasn’t nonchalant, and wasn’t even comfortable in my sexuality (because, like who is in high school?). What I was, was thoroughly insecure and totally eager to receive the praise and adulation of people who thought I was all those things. And hearing them tell me I was “badass” or a “beast” or “so manly” because I biked during the winter was a particular delicacy for my adolescent ego. It would also be my undoing. Well… for a time anyway. In my case, I didn’t fly so close to the sun that a fall proved fatal, but I shall return to the story.

I was a junior in high school, maybe a sophomore, I can’t remember. But I’ll never forget waking up and seeing the devastation that had occurred while we all slept. Indiana weather had done it again. Freezing rain had poured in the night and frozen solid so that every surface exposed to the elements had a 3/4″ layer of ice on it. Trees, their branches laden too heavily with the weight, had dropped limbs, in some cases splitting right in half. Car windshields were beyond scraping, a heating element of some kind was needed. And, of course, the roads were atrocious. The city’s streets had been transformed into a linear skating rinks overnight.

 

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The esteemed author’s actual back yard at the time. Yeah, when the weather’s taking down oak trees you better rethink your tactics a little.

 

Naturally, my reaction to all this was to think Imagine what they’ll say of me when I stroll in to school after dismounting my bike! Just imagine! They’ll be in disbelief! They’ll sing songs of the day one environmentally conscious student rode his bike to school, the harsh weather be damned! I’ll go down in history! Maybe I didn’t think those words, but I sort of felt it, intuitively. My suffering ego knew that if I completed this Herculean task it would be fed what it longed for: affirmation. I was like a drug addict for compliments (but again, like who isn’t in high school?).

Somehow I managed to convince my parents that this was a good idea. I’ll just skip over that part since I’m not sure how it happened (then again, I was very stubborn and argumentative at this time, too). Back in those days I didn’t know anything about bikes that had racks for cargo (I wore a backpack), fenders, thick, durable tires, or GOING SLOW!!! (AMIRITE, BROTHER?!?!) Going slow was for noobs. Still, I wasn’t 100% stupid, so I at least knew to be cautious on the ice.

When riding in a straight line, the slickness of the ice and the lack of traction was almost unnoticeable. But after fish-tailing and having my rear tire nearly slide out from under me on multiple occasions I became nervous around curves and coming to a stop. I really started to panic. I’m going to be late I’m going to be late I’m going to be late or I’m going to crash and die, I thought. But also, I was only 3 minutes in to a 20 minute ride and I already felt like I’d made a mistake (but at that age, you can’t admit to making mistakes, you just press on and pretend like everything’s fine).

I was slipping all over the road and doing everything in my power to steady the bike, sometimes even riding with one leg out, ready to catch me in a tripod if the bike slid out from under me. I was also sweating like a Coke bottle at an August barbecue because: layering clothing + panicking + adrenaline/trying not to die = massive sweating.

Finally, I just had three turns to make before I was safely at school. The third to last turn was onto a busy-ish road. I remember having exactly zero time, which is to say there were 0.00 seconds of elapsed time between my feeling of being slightly off-balance and then instantly being on the ground, face first, bike still attached to my feet. A valiant, yet feeble attempt at breaking my fall was made by my right arm, collapsed under me, and my backpack’s extra weight made it hard to push myself up and then–OWWWW!!! %*&#$@ THE HELL WAS THAT?!?!! I tried to push myself up agai–OWWWWWWWW!!! My ribs reeeeaaallly had gone down hard on that ice pavement.

 

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…only now imagine that the arm was less muscular and it didn’t have time to brace the fall. (2)

 

I finally managed to unclip my shoes from the pedals and roll over onto my backpack, and use my arms to push myself up that way. The clock was ticking. My chest was throbbing. I had no choice. I was a teenager, and no adult was going to help me, or hold me back from being “badass” in the eyes of my pears. Wrist and chest stinging, eyes burning, I somehow mounted the bike again and gingerly began to pedal. I clutched my ribs with one hand and rode about as slow as you can go on a bike and still call it “bicycling.”

The last 800 meters were like that. I made it to school. I gritted my teeth. I hid my pain. I heard the incredulous, impressed remarks of my peers. I might have even smiled, but inside, I knew. knew that I had betrayed something elemental. I had misused a tool of the gods for sport and my own amusement. Like Odysseus, I would be hunted by Poseidon. Like Icarus, I fell from the sky. And it was so. That particular failure was so internally humiliating and traumatic, that I didn’t ride my bike in the winter for a long time. Maybe a few years. I rode my bike, sure, but if there was even a smidge of moisture to be found, my ego had learned it was better just to be like everyone else. Try to fit in. Be safe. Drive instead of ride.

 

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You have angered the gods. Scylla and Charybdis aren’t stoked about you either. (3)

 

Some of you might be thinking “this does not sound like the Keith I know and love,” but remember, this is something I felt and thought long ago. And honestly, I’m glad it happened! Like my younger self, I think we tend to be afraid of showing that we are weak, or need help, or are wrong. But I’m glad I made that mistake (and I’m lucky it wasn’t anything more than some bruised ribs/ego), because it set the stage for future learning.

I learned 1) nature is powerful and demands respect 2) there are some bikes that can handle that nature much better than others (and I think you know who to ask about those) 3) there are ways to ride in winter to make one safer and mostly just 4) bikes are a tool, a really cool tool for getting around. They’re also great for not polluting and causing increased greenhouse gases, taking up less space on streets than cars do, not causing collisions that kill so many people, keeping folks healthy by giving them a transportation alternative that doubles as exercise, among other things. Bicycles are all those things and more. They’re tools for accomplishing all those things. They’re also a pretty dumb way to try to feed egos (but then, what isn’t?).

I may present as this “RAH RAH BIKES ARE AWESOME RAH RAH STOP POLLUTION RAH RAH HOW CAN ANYONE NOT AGREE IT’S SO OBVIOUS” persona from time to time, but it’s not that obvious, to be truthful. I arrived at my current level of bicycle competence through chapped lips, bruised ribs, freezing fingers, late arrivals, in other words, lots and lots of failure. If it were obvious I’d have had all the answers all along and never screwed up.

Anyone who seeks a higher bicycling competence (or anything competence) can expect that they, too, must fail. As many an inspirational poster has undoubtedly told us all, failure is part and parcel to learning. Failure (and the learning that comes with it) is also an important ingredient in humility, which isn’t important for bicyclers specifically, but humans all around, I would say. So, go forth and let yourself be made a fool of and thus learn; I will do likewise.

 

Photo Sources:

(1) http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/d0/1f/90/d01f9096e0d121690af748a635f40306.jpg

(2) http://www.cycling360media.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/tymmsy-crash.jpg

(3) http://img09.deviantart.net/cd12/i/2012/258/5/f/odysseus_and_scylla_by_pinkparasol-d5eti28.jpg