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Sunshine & Bikes

April 14, 2011

I’m in Phoenix, Arizona for a conference this week. Off the bike, sadly, but enjoying some sunshine and heat. I was at a workshop on the Arizona State University campus yesterday and struck by the bike culture there. If you wander around McMaster University, the bike racks are full of old, used, beaten up bikes. There is the occasional interesting fixie, but the bicycles around campus are by-and-large utilitarian, low-end machines. Part of this, surely, has to do with the climate, and the havoc snow and salt wrecks on bike parts. Nevertheless, I was blown away by the class of bicycles here. In addition to seeing numerous high-end racing bikes and mountain bikes, there seemed to be an extensive fixie culture—all sleek, hip, and new. Which was weird. While ASU (rightly) prides itself as a university at the cutting edge of sustainability efforts (incredible initiatives going on here that should be carefully examined by large universities everywhere), there seemed to be a disconnect between those efforts and the new, expensive bikes being ridden all over campus.

Clearly, the majority of students were buying their bicycles new, rather than building them up or passing them along. So, while I was admiring all these beautiful, two-wheeled bikes—and envious of them and, indeed, their presence on the university campus (it was really distracting in a cool way watching beautiful bikes rolling everywhere while I was trying to have a conversation or follow a tour of the campus), I wondered a bit about the bike culture and the students’ attachment to their bikes. And the amount of money spent on them.

It also reminded me that I desperately need to get my own build up and running. One more coat of paint, and then it’s time to start to put everything together. More on that shortly after I get home.

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