Sunday, November 8, 2009

Best. Repair. Ever.

With fall upon us IBC often needs creative ways to keep its employees busy. Today provided us with what has to be the finest non-bike repair we have ever done. The extremely discerning 4 year-old customer was elated and will probably hype us up on Yelp or the toddler equivalent of facebook. Please enjoy the thrilling adventure of Saving Mr. T-Rex, starring our favorite dino protagonist.

Doctors Stratton and Jochem examine the patient. The prognosis is grim. He's losing air fast.

Doctor Jochem intubates the patient, sorta.

Dr. Stratton checks the vitals, it's still a little hairy at this point.

Dr. Leas steps in to assist. He is a handsome expert in T-Rex surgery.

Facing horrifying flashbacks to his tenure at Raptor Haven and Bronto Water World, Doctor Jochem cracks under the pressure.

The dashing Dr. Leas tries a previously untested surgical maneuver whilst Dr. Jochem looks on in horror.

Having regained his composure, Dr. Jochem checks T-Rex's reflexes and declares the operation a resounding success. Our young client has his best buddy back and Doctors Leas, Jochem and Stratton saunter off to the hip, local doctors bar for some celebratory adult beverages and tapas.

The End...?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NEMBA Explorers Kids Rides

Saturday mornings at 9:30 at Cutler Park Needham, IBC puts on a NEMBA Explorers ride for kids ages 8-12. It's about an hour and a half ride down fire roads, carriage paths, and a small amount of singletrack. We take time to stop and work on skills like log hopping, riding up and off a curb, and getting started on uphills in the right gear. Post-ride we discuss the best parts of the day over chocolate milk and Kids Clif bars.

Above: On a rather eventful ride we came upon a large snapping turtle who had just nipped a German Shepherd puppy's nose (thankfully not too badly). Explorer rider Cole looks on as a brave gentleman transports the prehistoric beast back to the water. Don't worry, no children were eaten.

Above: The Gods of cycling shine a light on Sonya, giving her the power to hop over huge logs in a single bound. Log hopping is a key element of mountain biking, the less time you spend getting off your bike for obstacles and the more time you spend rolling, the more of a real mountain biker you become.

Above: Colin and Linnea (or "Colinnea" as the Papparazi calls them) come out to support a sunny ride on Saturday morning. Miriam, Alexandra, Brendan and the crew portage their bikes over an enormous log. Explorer rides are always an adventure. Riding down the flower lined boardwalks of Cutler is always a highlight.

Check our ride calendar for future Explorers ride dates.

Friday, July 24, 2009


The weeks and weeks of relentless rain had a put, damper on our Saturday NEMBA Explorers Kids Rides and our Wednesday Cutler Park Rides, but now the weather is being ever so slightly more cooperative and we're back at it.

The groups for the Wednesday rides have been a good mix of intermediate and advanced riders recently. The more advanced guys sprinting along and then waiting for just a moment as the not-quite-so-advanced riders catch up at their steady pace. It works out quite well.

The overwhelming reaction to the loop through Cutler and the stuff along Greendale on the opposite side of 128 is that it is way better than you'd ever think. Cutler Park might not be the place you head to on a weekend afternoon, but if you live in The Burbs and you want to go for a quick rip after work, this is a sweet spot.

Above: 1.) Explorers promo image 2.) Explorer rider Brendan is lead by IBC Elite MTB riders Kevin and Harry 3.) Kevin demonstrates a little tuck and roll...riding slow is sometimes a challenge for racer-boys 4.) Kevin helps Brendan with some bike portaging, mountain biking is always an adventure.

The turnout for the Kids rides has been low, as in our average number of riders after two rides in one. One kid. Both rides had three Pro XC MTB level riders leading that one kid though. Remember, every Explorers rider gets a Kids Clif Bar, a Chocolate Milk, and a free water bottle, not to mention tons of expert advice on how to ride a mountain bike.

Hope to see you out there!


Friday, June 26, 2009

John P. Holland School Bike Donation

Here at The International Bicycle Centers we have a program in place which allows folks to trade in any Trek or Fisher kids bike within two years of purchase for a credit of up to 50% of its value toward a new kids bike. They can even trade their kid's last juvenile bike toward their first adult bike. The program allows us to donate 100s of perfectly good bikes to kids who might not otherwise have them.

This year we chose to outfit 110 or so kids at The John P. Holland School in Dorchester, MA with bikes and Trek Vapor Youth Helmets.

All this came together quickly and with the end of the school year looming, just days away, we had to get the fleet of bikes together in short time. For about a week IBC's service center transformed into a cluttered Santa's workshop, organ donor bikes getting trampled underfoot as a team of mechanics tuned and cleaned each individual bike. With the help of Holland School 1st grade teacher Julie Sneed we were able to match bikes with specific children. Knowing that a bike would go to a particular child gave us all the more impetus to make sure each one was absolutely perfect.

The delivery of the bikes was carried out over three days. Kids would come down to the bike-filled basement of the school in groups of about ten, get fitted for a helmet, then pick their bike out of the line up. Saddles and bars were then adjusted for each child as lessons were given on proper operation of hand brakes and, in some cases, shifters.

Many of the kids didn't know how to ride without training wheels, some had never ridden a bike at all. Since none of the bikes had training wheels, demonstrations were given on how to learn to ride a bike. One of us would get on a much too small bike and roll around with their feet off the pedals, extended like outriggers as it was explained that pedaling isn't the important part of riding a bike, it's the balancing and the steering. Once you can roll around without falling over and steer away from solid objects, that's when you can start pedaling. All the kids will likely remember is laughing at a 6' tall guy riding around on a 16" wheeled bike.

The kids were awesome, polite and super-cooperative, it made the event all the more fun. In Principal Michele O'Connell's lovely thank you letter she mentioned that one of The Holland School's core values is educating the "Whole Child", these kids already seem well on their way to becoming excellent human beings. Now that they have wheels they may reach their destination even faster.

Thanks to Julie Sneed for all her work coordinating on The Holland School end, this couldn't have happened without you. Thanks to Kevin Sweeney for coming out all three days to help out, you definitely went above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks to James Parsons and Samantha for their help as well. And thanks to the IBC service staff for prepping all those bikes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hillside School Bike Rodeo

The Bike Rodeo, absolutely one of the most fun events you can attend as a bike shop employee. These things are usually set up by the P.E. instructor at an elementary school, generally for 3rd graders. The idea is to get kids up to speed on bicycle safety and traffic laws. They are run through an obstacle course complete with mini-stop signs then given a test. If they pass, they are issued a license which allows them to ride their bike to school. It's impressive how many kids actually ride their bikes to school these days and it's definitely essential that they learn the rules of the road.

IBCer Adam Burns goes the extra mile,
fixing a flat so one of the kids can get out on the obstacle course on time.

Adam removes the bead and prepares to take the tube out.

Faster than a NASCAR tire swap, Adam has the wheel pumped up and back on the bike just in the nick of time.

The kids fill out the written portion of the test in crayon. It was amazing not only that most of them got the questions correct, but that they understood the test at all. The level of vocabulary words used in the questions was nutty.

Apparently blue water bottles are the best. They went way before the others. Next time we'll bring exclusively blue bottles.

One of the questions on the test pertained to which direction you ride on the road, with or against traffic. "What kind of question is that? Ride against traffic? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!". I guess the training worked on this guy.

Thanks to The Hillside School and Rob Tatro for putting this thing together. Encouraging kids to ride bikes is a great thing to do and you guys do an awesome job doing it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NEMBA Cutler Park Trail Day

Just a few words and photos from the recent trail day at Cutler Park.

We were a small but efficient crew, dropping about fifty new boards along the longest of the boardwalks which traverse the beautiful marshes in Cutler Park.

Like any good work crew we got down with some bagels and coffee beforehand. We were expecting some more folks to attend, so there was a huge surplus of food and beverages. Next time you should show up and help us eat all those bagels!

Hiking the the 2" X 12" Boards from the truck out to the boardwalk wasn't easy, Bryan uses his head to accomplish the task. Bob, Jason, and Linnea assess the condition of the existing boards, looking for rotten ones to replace. Bryan gets down to the dirty work of pulling up the old boards and nails.

Jason G. hefts the not-so-light boards all the way to down the end of the bridge. Amazing that this scene takes place within earshot of Route 128. Plug your ears and you could be in the middle of nowhere.

I demonstrated why you walk on the center of the boards, not the ends...just in case they aren't nailed down yet. Falling off the side of a bridge and having a board nearly come up and whack you in the face is so much funnier when The Three Stooges do it.

Bill "The Old Coot" Boles hikes out at the end of the day.

Culter Park really is an overlooked gem in the midst of Suburbia. You should come out on one of our Wednesday rides and see for yourself.
5:45, IBC Newton 71 Needham St. 617-527-0967, ask for Thom P.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bike Friday

Last Friday was the first Bike Friday of the year. This is a program run by the city of Boston and awesome Boston Bike Czar Nicole Freedman. Volunteers and Boston Bike Police escort commuters into the city from several locations in the greater Boston area. You meet at 6:45 and roll with an organized convoy to City Hall. It's a great way for folks who haven't commuted by bike before to get out there in a safe, comfortable way and see how cool and not-so-scary-really commuting by bike can be.

Fellow IBCer Jeremy and I volunteered to lead the Oak Square ride out of Brighton. I commute to our Newton shop from Somerville every day and heading down to Oak Square deviated just ever so slightly from my regular route. I opted to Google Map the difference, clicking on "Walking Directions" in hopes that I would be shown a new and exciting way to ride my bike to Brighton. I got more than what I asked for.

At one point I was instructed to take a right on the Watertown Branch Rail Trail,
this was a new one on me, I was excited to see what it was all about. What it was all about was not so great. At the intersection where I was supposed to turn off all I could see was an un-paved parking lot full of tow trucks with a large dirt pile at the end. I rode around the dirt pile into the bushes following the partially interred, ancient train tracks. I pushed aside the wet, over-hanging brambles and quickly found myself rumbling down rotten, but still intact railroad ties. More rail than trail.

You know it's early when you have to put a light on for your morning commute. Watertown Branch Rail Trail needs some work. Something from the set of Lost. How to make a size XXL shirt fit a Medium bike racer. Jeremy getting awesome and safe! The Police Escort.

So that didn't work out, I back tracked and headed back down Arlington St. and picked up the directions a little further along. The next move didn't turn out that well either, the road dead-ended into an office park and a giant wrought iron fence. I followed what was basically a path created by homeless men looking for camping sites until I found a hole in the fence and scaled through, coming out on North Beacon.

Google Maps doesn't yet have a "By Bike" option. But they do have walking directions, which are apparently mapped by an office full of drunk homeless men. Although that Rail Trail business would have been tough to navigate with a shopping cart. Coming soon...Google Maps "By Shopping Cart" directions. Maybe when they're done with that project they'll add the "By Bike" feature, maybe.

But Bike Friday went off without a hitch. The convoy was solid, I do have to say I derived a huge amount of enjoyment out of watching from the back as angry SUV drivers buzzed the convoy, honking away only to get waved over by one of the bike Police for a reprimand. Things did get a little hurly burly as the convoy split up. The Policeman on point would close an intersection, then roll on, the light would change or the walk signal would light up and conflict between cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians would ensue. Perhaps a bug we can work out for next time, that would be Friday May 29th.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We Got Yer Demo Bikes Right Here!

2009 Gary Fisher Paragon

Here's an idea...
we're doing these Wednesday Mountain Bike rides in Cutler park out of our Newton shop (71 Needham St., 617-527-0967) at 5:45 (that's PM for you sickos) and ya see we've got these demo bikes. They're '09 Fisher Paragon 29ers and Trek Fuel EX 8 26" wheeled 5" travel full suspension bikes. What I'm thinking is that you or one of your fun lovin' friends should come down and arrange to take one of these bad boys out for a spin with the guys from the IBC MTB Team.

If that sounds like a good idea to you, give a call over to the shop and we can arrange it, no problem.

2009 Trek Fuel EX 8

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday Cutler Park MTB Ride

Had another good turnout for the IBC/NEMBA Wednesday Cutler Ride. Jon Lewis from Saris/Cycleops was in attendance, as were Tom and Chase Ennis. Chase is a budding Mountain and Cyclocross racer. The kid has some serious potential. The group was rounded out by Pam and John from Southborough, Javier from Natick, Stalwart attendee of the Wednesday ride, Corey French, and Me.

Not long into the ride we had a saddle bag explosion. I rolled up to find Chase and Tom trying to extricate a road tube from Chase's back wheel. "How did this happen" I thought "Did Chase run over a discarded road tube on the trail?". Nope, they had thrown a road tube in the bag because it was all they had in the house. Stop by the shop before the ride next time guys, we'll get you sorted out!

Very shortly after that Corey had a chain detonation. Luckily John had some spare links and after a few minutes of tinkering Corey was up and rolling again. We got him set up with a new chain when we got back to the shop.

We'll be out there again next Wednesday. Meet at IBC Newton 5:45, 71 Needham St., 617-527-0967.

Oh, and don't forget, next Saturday the 16th is NEMBA's Trail Care day at Cutler. Meet at the DCR Parking lot on Kendrick St. from 9AM-12PM. Breakfast and coffee will be provided courtesy of IBC. Word is there'll be a bit of off-road pedaling following the trail work,
so come on out and show Cutler Park some love! It's a great resource right here in our backyards.


Friday, May 1, 2009

B.U. Bicycle Safety Day

Last Thursday was Boston University's Bicycle Safety Day.

A few guys from IBC were down there doing bike check ups, quick bike-fittings, and some more involved stuff. The majority of the bikes simply needed air in the tires and some lube on the chain but there were a few more frightening cases. We did what we could for those and sent the more critical victims down the street to IBC Boston.

As the event reached its peak, it became apparent that there was no way we could possibly attend to the insane number of people lined up across the parking lot. Earlier in the day we were pulling wheels off bikes to true them, installing brake cables, and performing all sorts of time consuming tasks. Later on we had to move through bikes a little quicker, really just making sure they were safe, not exactly giving them Tour De France level performance tuning.

We left the event with the impression that a huge number of B.U. students use their bikes every day to get to class or around town. Not a bad thing at all.

Thanks to Jarrod and all the other guys that put this thing on.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cutler Ride With Bill

We had another successful Cutler Park ride Wednesday night. The Old Coot himself, Bill Boles graced us with his presence. For the not so straight story, go over here.

IBC Wednesday Rides

The Newton Shop, 71 Needham St.
No lights required
No drop, plenty of time to talk about skills, ask questions, compare bikes,
all that good stuff.

Friday, April 24, 2009

NEMBA Fells Opening Day

Superfly's First trip to The Fells. The guy who lent me a pump, if you know him let me know. Karen and The Leg a the front of the group. Crossing over from the other side.

Saturday was NEMBA's Fells Opening Day Event. It just so happened that it was the nicest day thus far this year and tons of people showed up to ride on dirt. The Luna Chicks were there leading rides. JRA and IBC were there helping folks get their bikes ready to ride. The guys from Cycleloft were cooking up some Barbecue. Andrew from October Bikes was showing off his wares and IBC racer Greg Robidoux was working the massage table.

Making bikes work, giving away popcorn. That's what we do.

Repairs were done, tubes were pumped, and once it seemed the flow of customers had begun to subside, it was time to ride! That was really what this event was all about, getting out on the trails. Once out on the trails the repairs didn't end. A lot of people had pulled their bikes out for the first time this season. Derailleurs were getting thrown into spokes, stuff was breaking, it was mayhem.

Joe from I.F. and The Man himself, Philip Keyes of NEMBA

Everyone was out there, from beginners to Pros like Maureen Bruno-Roy, Rebecca Wellons, Greg Montello, and Alexis Wruble. Seeing the mass migrations of riders out to the trail-head was inspiring. Judging by the attendance at this event at last week's Hop Brook Dam race, it is going to be a good year for mountain biking.

Fast ride with the boys. First time the legs have seen daylight this season. Kevin catches a flat. Is that thing on?

At one point I had spun off from a group ride to get back to Flynn Rink with Greg The Leg and Kevin Sweeney. Kevin ended up ripping open his tubeless tire, it was far beyond sealing with Stan's. Unfortunately he didn't have a pump and I had only brought shop-size tools to fix other people's bikes, I was rolling with a tube and a cell phone, no flip tool, no pump. We were relatively close to the main drag where folks were crossing over into the main body of The Fells. I rolled down the way looking for a pump to borrow. I found it, the gentleman in the upper right hand corner of the photo at the top of this post lent me one. I returned the favor by never actually finding him and driving off with his pump at the end of the day. So if you know this guy, please drop me a line. I want to get his pump back to him with interest.

How does my hair look? Like Bjork's? Why thank you.

Big thanks to Philip, Tim, Terry, and all the other NEMBA people that work so hard so the rest of us can ride our knobelly tired bikes on dirt all over place. You guys, as they say, rock!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mass Bike Commuter Breakfast

Last Friday morning Mass Bike did one of their Commuter Breakfasts at the Cambridge side of The Mass Ave. Bridge. It was a gorgeous morning and folks were out pedaling like mad. A huge cross-section of cyclists were on parade. You had your racer/commuters, hipsters on Fixies, Messengers, Berkeley students on ten speeds, bikes of all shapes and sizes, it was great to see everyone just getting out there.

Shane brings the hype

David, James, and Shane of Massbike were there, dishing out Orange Wedges and Bagels and Cream Cheese, along with info on Massbike.

We told pedestrians passing by that we'd give them free breakfast if they came back with a bike. Watch the Cambridge Police reports for a rash of bicycle muggings. "Hey, give me that bike, I want my free bagel!" Whack!

James manning the bagel bag

So many of the cyclists we saw were smiling and happy, quite a contrast to the motorists sitting in traffic, watching us suspiciously. One solution to that problem...ride your bike to work!

A few of the riders said they'd already had breakfast as they rolled on by. That's the beauty of riding your bike, you get second breakfast. Those calories you are so pragmatically burning aren't going to replace themselves. Have that bagel. Heck, have two!

Dave Watson, Executive Director of Mass Bike walks the walk,
or rolls the roll, get my point

Seeing how many people are out there riding these days was pretty cool. Not sure what the statistics are but my impression is that there are more people doing it than when I first started riding around Boston in the early nineties. Who knows, maybe they were forced onto the bike by the high gas prices of last summer, only to realize how much more fun it is to ride than drive. Maybe they got hooked, maybe they couldn't put the bike down...couldn't kick the habit. Good thing it's an addiction that comes with little to no negative side effects. The positive side effects however, are too numerous to mention.

Thanks to The Mass Bike guys for putting this thing on. Watch for them at The Longfellow Bridge sometime soon.