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 4- Azor Visit

Tuesday December 13, 2016 Continued

After my morning visit at Nijland, I made my way to the town of Hoogeveen to visit with Azor Bike. Azor is where all of the Workcycles classic city bikes we sell are made. They are also the home of the original Bakfiets.nl cargobike we used to sell from Workcycles in the pre-Kr8 days. Lastly, Azor is where some of the Onderwater Tandem bikes we sell are produced.

It was a pretty aggressive move on my part to schedule visits to both Nijland (in Heeten) and Azor (in Hoogeveen) on the same day. Lucky for me the trains all ran flawlessly on time and I didn’t get a flat tire.  2016-12-13-14-16-34

This is probably as good a time as any to give my ringing endorsement of the Dutch train system and the NS Reisplanner Xtra app for scheduling and fares. My memories of train travel from back when I lived in Amsterdam 10 years ago were always riddled with anxiety and uncertainty. I boarded the wrong train more than once back in those days despite being someone who is more than happy to ask around to conductors and other passengers if I was on the right train. Thanks to this handy dandy app, the days of missing transfers and waiting in the info kiosk line to find out which platform I should go to were over.

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Above is an image of my itinerary to get from Raalte to Hoogeveen with easy to follow platform instructions. Below is a map of the route.

2017-02-27-19-20-58Ok, back to Azor.

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Curious where the name Azor comes from? Azor founder, Jan Rijkeboer, wanted to have a cool logo with a silhouette of a bird of prey. After researching names he came across Azor and liked it and thought a short and easy to remember name was a good idea. BTW- Azor is Spanish for Goshawk.

First stop on the factory tour was the wheel building station. This being a factory and not a bicycle shop, building wheels the old fashioned way without a machine won’t cut it. So, somewhere along the line someone invented this cool piece of equipment specifically to speed up the wheel building process.

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Space. Having enough of it for building these large bikes is a serious demand. This is something we can relate to being a small bike shop that sells large bikes. In the above photo a Bakfiets frame is suspended upside down mid-assembly. Note the amount of space the factory has given to this station. You can tell that they recognize the workers’ efficiency is dependent on having enough space.

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Azor takes the quality and durability of their bikes very seriously. They continually test everything to ensure it can take a licking and keep on ticking. Aside from the usual beating with a hammer and drop testing, they put all parts in a salt spray chamber designed to mimic years worth of living outside in the Dutch elements to make sure they will not succumb to rust easily.

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Some colorful combinations in the queue of the Azor assembly line.

Here’s a photo gallery with more…

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Thank you Jan for taking the time and giving me such a thorough tour. And thank you kindly for this cool embossed metal Bakfiets.nl sign. It hangs proudly on our wall at The Shop.

The know your commodity chain tour is just getting going. Stay tuned for the next installment when I once again test the reliability of the Dutch train system with two visits on the same day.

-Jon

 

 

Amsterdam Diaries Part 3- Nijland Visit

Tuesday December 13, 2016 

Next stop on the know your commodity chain tour was Nijland (pronounced “Nih-LAHND”). The name Nijland most likely doesn’t ring a bell. That’s because we don’t sell a brand of bikes called Nijland, but we do sell a brand I’m sure you are familiar with called Workcycles. Nijland happens to be where all of the Workcycles F/K/G r8 family of bikes are produced and they are located in the town of Heeten.

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In addition to Workcycles, Nijland is a contract manufacturer for other similar small scale bike brands such as Onderwater, the classic Bakfiets, Brik and a brand we used to know well- De Fietsfabriek. Nijland also designs and produces their own line of adaptive bikes for riders with disabilities. According to the Nijland website, they have 13 employees, I have a feeling based on what I saw that this number has grown some.

The day started when I woke up to my alarm clock having overslept. This resulted in a mad dash to the train station through a steady rain in the pitch black morning before sunrise. I had to catch a train from Leiden to Amsterdam to meet Richard (from Workcycles) to then get on another train headed to Deventer. I narrowly made the train and then connected with Richard at Central Station-Amsterdam and we were off.

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This photo of the Workcycles crew was taken at their headquarters in Amsterdam on my trip back in summer of 2015. Richard is on the right there. Great guy and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him. He’s the right hand man of Workcycles founder Henry Cutler and my main point of contact on all of our dealings with them. It is fantastic having someone I can depend on to reply to my emails and help get our bike orders produced and shipped out in a timely fashion.

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After we arrived in Deventer, we had about a 40 minute bike ride through the countryside to get to Nijland. I had a great time between the train ride and the bike ride to the factory chewing the fat with Richard and learning more about how Workcycles operates. There is a ton of R&D, testing, moving parts and suppliers involved to take one of their bikes from concept to finished product. It was enlightening for me to peel back some of the layers of that onion and gives me a greater appreciation for their awesome bikes.

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The factory bosses boss bike.

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There is a dedicated team of three Nijland employees who perform all the Workcycles F/K/G r8 bike assemblies right here in this section of the factory. It was a pleasure meeting them and shaking their hands. I sometimes forget how much of a role the human element plays in the products we sell. This is what getting to know your commodity chain is all about, after all, and sadly, it’s something we’ve strayed from as economies have gotten less and less localized. Therefore, being here and meeting the folks who do this was kind of mind blowing. This is high quality attention to detail small scale manufacturing and it was really neat to see it first hand.

The other interesting thing to see is how the industry has become specialized in such a way that, if you want to make bikes, you don’t front the overhead for a factory to build them. This is because in such a huge economy, your business is busy enough dealing with designing and marketing the bikes. So, you contract a factory to build the bikes, and if that factory is successful, they’ll be good enough to build bikes for a variety of companies, all of whom might even be rivals in the market. This is basically what Nijland has done.

Here is a gallery of images giving you an inside look at this part of the factory.

A peak at the upper floor where painted frames and parts are stored

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An oldie but a goodie. Early days Workcycles Fr8 with a Massive Rack that is used as a factory transport bike at Nijland.

The highlight for me was definitely the painting shop. Nijland used to outsource their paint work so everything had to be transported back and forth to the powder coater. This was costly, time consuming and also left more chance of scuffs and dings during transport. So Nijland decided to invest in their own state of the art painting facility and we were given a thorough tour which was just amazing.

Here’s a step-by-step of how the magic happens…

STEP 1 – Degrease, wash and pretreat

STEP 2 – Primer coat

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STEP 3 – Pick your RAL number (30% is Matte, 70% is Semi-Gloss)

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STEP 4 – Powder coat

STEP 5 – Bake in the oven

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STEP 6 – Don’t touch the oven!

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Then marvel at the beautiful powder coating

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Thank you Richard for making the trip to Nijland with me and giving me the grand tour. It was a real eye opening experience.

After lunch, Richard and I parted ways and I raced off to the Raalte train station. Here’s a little video of my ride, if I sound a little winded, I was in a rush to catch that train.

Where was I heading that afternoon? Well you’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

-Jon