4.09.2011

a visit to Velocity Bicycle Cooperative in Old Town

last week I got an Instant Message on FACEBOOK
it was Christian Myers of Velocity Bicycle Cooperative
I have had some back and forth with Christian on my trying to get out there to take a peak at what is going on behind that white garage door in Old Town Alexandria

the email was short and to the point...
"nice day for a ride... you should come out and check out the shop"


a little IM back and forth and it was decided that I would head up for a quick visit around lunch time
I finished my tasks of the morning then suited up for a ride

over dressed on a day warmer than the days prior I rolled at a fast touring pace with the camera slung around my neck
my route bisected the city exiting the city in Georgetown across Key Bridge into Roslyn then onto the Mount
Vernon Trail

the trail was pretty vacant
well... vacant compared to how things are during RUSH HOUR in the morning or afternoon
those on the trail were doing the usual ignorant trail user things

a woman changing her babie's diaper in the middle of trail
four very happy men skipping side by side holding hands taking up the whole trail
a professional dog walker with three dogs all pulling in different directions with those extending leases
the usual ignorant activity
then the usual response

for some reason people are often shocked when a cyclist passes them on the bike path
what a shock... a bicycle on the bike path
the gentle "on your left" sometimes shocks the unsuspecting trail users
yes... people need to expand their sphere of awareness

headphones and cell phones do not help the situation

it was a pleasure to ride the Mount Vernon trail along side the
river on this splendid spring day
the view of the Cherry Blossoms around the monuments across the river was a pleasant site
the shadow of the plane passing overhead as I arced past the park by the airport gave me a man made Winged Migration moment
I love the Winged Migration moments!

at the door not even off the bicycle and Christian appeared
not sure where he came from
silent and stealth he was by my side
the door rolled open and I was invited in


quickly I grabbed some technology from my bag
two cameras and my iPhone

before the tour started we stepped back outside so I could start documenting my tour from the exterior

it was a lot to take in

the old warehouse building leaves a bit of a mystery of what may be inside
well... bicycles are to be expected... but what else?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
The Wizard of Oz

Christian and Velocity Bicycle Cooperative

in the first room there are bicycles... as expected bicycles....
I expected bicycles... and there were definitely bicycles... lots of bicycles
bicycle neatly lined up
cleaned up... tuned up... and ready to roll
on the walls hangs bicycle art... a variety of bicycle art

this diminutive room with all of its intricacies is just a sample of what exists in the rest of the warehouse

as I was taking a closer look at the Picasso-esque sculptures on the wall Christian disappear
ed into the next room
the volume of the speakers increased... Johnny Cash's deep melodic voice filled the space
rolling up another door and revealing what would be the gateway into the main room
a small perch for commerce-trade-donations and maybe information

small details of custom adaptations using various bike parts were cool touches

a small space surrounded by glass display cases filled with all sorts of bicycle eye candy
PARTS!
SHINING SHIMMERING SPARKLING BICYCLE PARTS!
Campy-Shimano-Suntour-Phil Wood Parts!

unique eclectic and cool!

then behind the glass display cases are cabinets with draws
drawers filled with more parts... more cool and eclectic stuff
on the walls were more parts.. anything and everything that would be needed to repair a bicycle

Christian walked and talked at the same time...
I am not sure if he had gum in his mouth
but Christian is more than capable to walk and talk and chew gum at the same time
information was coming at me faster than I could ingest it


there was talk about the "earn a bike program"

there was talk about kid group rides and volunteer nights

WOW! a lot happens within these walls!
WOW! a lot has happened in what has been less than one year since its opening!

Christian is not making this up as he goes along... he has studied things... met with other innovators and has learned from their failures and their successes... it is an insult to say this... but Christian is a really smart guy
a great deal can be learned by listening to him


we moved to the next section that was a collection of clothing and frames that blending into a comfortable lounge area
we took to the couch and we talked more

Christian was clear and concise
although there was a great deal of talking going on... it was not fluff... it was information... i
t was valuable information
it amazed me to learn how Christian took thought into action
what may have been years of dreaming morphed into today's reality

I WAS SHOCKED AND AMAZED AT WHAT SURROUNDED ME

back to our feet we continued the tour

the open warehouse space was laid out with effectively

every inch of space was occupied by something bike
there was lots of stuff everywhere
but there was no feeling of congestion or clutter

it was organized in a effective manner

we walked past the repair stands and Christian showed me the shops collection of tools
Velocity Bicycle Coop has every tool needed to do the job

and well... Christian knows how to use them
a combination of life experience and certified programs gives Christian a wealth of bicycle knowledge

it was intense... this place is exciting
Velocity Bicycle Coop is ALIVE!

Christian and I continued to talk as we stepped outside of Velocity Bicycle
Coop to hit the streets of Old Town Alexandria to find someplace to eat
the options are endless... or so it seems
we walked a short distance
the feeling of Christians connection to the community was visible
as if he were running for public office Christian "shook babies and kissed hands"
sincere hellos were exchanged with passing people on the sidewalk

we went over to Bugsy's Sports bar where Christian treated me to a tastee pizza and salad lunch
awesome... I will definitely head back to Bugsy's
after lunch we went back to the warehouse for stage two

the tour continued
after a walk through the repair area Christian took me over to the other side of the operation
Velocity Bicycle Coop is paired with Via Velo

Via Velo is cargo delivery... pedicab people movers... and advertising

just as Christian was showing me the fleet of Cargo Trikes that convert into pedicabs Christian's partner in this operation walked into the door
it was John... should I call him Velo John?

John is very different than the gregarious tattoo covered Christian
John is a few years older and a tad more composed
John has a "day job" in addition to his position at the Velo City Bicycle Coop and Via Velo
yet just as passionate
and just as informed

John is a very important piece of this organization!
Velo John may well be the Bicycle Yin to Christians Bicycle Yang

John pulled out one of the Cargo Trikes and gave me the run down of the operation and the vision
again... another slap to the forehead... total disbelief at the awesomeness of the operation in front of me

what a wonderful combination!
Christian and John flatter each other with their mismatched skill sets and shared vision


with the trike out of its parking space I was offered the opportunity to take it for a test drive
SHEER BEAUTY! (and photos will surface in a bit)

these machines are a far cry from my Franken-bakfiet
these machines are solid and smooth
I am not sure if I ever pedaled anything quite like it before
at a high cadence the large trike moved effortlessly
sitting almost on top of the front wheel the trike turned on a dime!

then back into the warehouse
time was running out and I was already overwhelmed with the topics discussed
I snapped a few more shots as I tried to take it all in

catching a glance at the time I realized it was best that I get back on the bike and hit the trail
a few more snaps of the electronic shutter and my pack was loaded and I was back on the bike

on the bike I pedaled back into the city
dumbfounded by what I had seen
in disbelief on what was presented in front of me

Velocity Bicycle Coop and Via Velo have raised the bar

I left knowing I had to go back
I need to get over to the Velocity Bike Coop when it is open for business and get a glimpse of the operation in action!

VĂ©locity Bicycle Cooperative
204 South Union St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
703.835.0699
spokeperson@velocitycoop.org
on TWITTER

http://twitter.com/#!/velocitycoop


Via Velo
same address as above

http://www.viavelo.org/

Velocity Bicycle Cooperative on Gwadzilla
http://gwadzilla.blogspot.com/search?q=velocity+bike+coop



No comments: