Sunday, August 22, 2010

Paying the "Mountain Bike Experience" Forward

My 8 year old daughter has been asking why her mountain bike doesn’t have front “springs” like her sister’s bike, or like mine. So last week I ordered a set of inexpensive suspension forks for her and installed them on her bike. The resulting smile and new found enthusiasm for riding her bike was well worth the $40 I spent on the forks. Plus my older daughter and I had a good time working as a team installing the new part. It was a fun afternoon of bonding with my girls, and the result was that we all smiled at our part in the project, my eldest daughter for being able to help work on the bike, my younger daughter because she now had a bike with front “springs”, and me for seeing the smiles and feeling the bonding with my daughters.

I also realized something as I worked on the bike and saw the resulting joy that was created. I realized that most mountain bikers feel pride in this sport, and that in turn manifests itself as the desire to help others feel that same joy and satisfaction. In fact, I think if you ask most mountain bike riders if they would help someone get started riding, the answer would be that they would be more than happy to assist. I think this is because mountain bikers ride, not only for the exercise and enjoyment of riding, but also for the social aspect too. Many times you will see mountain bike riders in pairs or larger groups talking and pedaling along with big smiles and good attitudes and saying hello to everyone they meet on the trail and completely enjoying the shared experience with their friends.

After helping my daughters with the forks I could also see that it is the responsibility of us more seasoned mountain bike riders to help promote our sport and get other people interested in riding. It is important that we help our sport grow and that we help new riders understand the rules and etiquette involved in being a responsible mountain biker. It is also our attitude toward riding that will show the new riders how much fun it really is to get out and sweat as we pedal up a hill, or race down after that long climb (in a legal and controlled manner, of course). We are integral in the future of the sport, cultivating the enjoyment of new riders, and creating the image that other ‘non-riders’ see when they meet us on the trail. We need to teach technique and social skills, while preserving the fun and adventurous spirit that was originally found by those crazy guys racing clunkers down Mt. Tam in Marin County.

So if you ride a mountain bike, keep in mind what it is that you enjoy about our sport and remember to pass this enjoyment along, either as support for other riders you meet, or as a positive attitude towards those that have yet to appreciate the pleasures of this great sport. By passing on your experience and enthusiasm you will be helping to create positive mountain bikers...who will pass on what they learned from you to the next generation of riders!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Forums can be a VERY Negative Experience (but survivable)

Last night I decided that I would join the forums for a mountain biking website that I am, or maybe was (the jury is still out), a big fan of. I thought it would be a good way to speak to the people that have the same interests I have in regards to the lights that I sell. So on I go, I quickly find a forum that is dedicated to “Lights and Night Riding”, and I proudly ventured to suggest someone take a look at

What a mistake that turned out to be. I quickly realized that the forums there were more of a gladiatorial arena, the weapons being words and narrow minded attitudes. The people that replied to my suggestion could not get over the fact that the light head for the ZigLights systems uses parts from a Chinese made light. I explained that I did use those parts, but if they did a little research on the ZigLights website and Facebook page, they would quickly see that my lighting system is far above the Chinese light in quality, reliability, and performance. Alas, my words fell on deaf ears. The replies ridiculed my answer with obvious lack of thought, intelligence, and understanding of what ZigLights was trying to do for the mountain biking community. I continued for about half a day, giving answers that were courteous and informative. Again, every answer I gave, trying with all my might to be professional, was given a rude answer. I realized that my best option was to bow out of the forum, wishing everybody a happy riding experience.

I vow never to return to ANY forum.

The saddest part is, for a time after conversing with the negative forum dwellers, my positivity and hopeful outlook for was shaken. My hopes that everyone would be enthralled with how much effort and thought I put into my lights dictated how my attitude would react to the negative forum replies. I predetermined my own downfall. Instead of entering the forum with a completely open mindset and being willing to maybe accept that many people have a need to bring others down, I entered it with my head held high and with the thought that everyone would be clapping me on the back for my dedication and hard work. Of course I know that many people will not like my lights. But I suppose I expected to be treated the way I try to treat everyone else, with respect and constructive input.

I’m still a bit down (hence the reason for writing this blog entry…good therapy), but I know that things will feel better with a bit of time. I still think my lights are a great product. I still think that I have priced them very competitively for what the customer will receive. And I still will not return to any forum because I don’t want to deal with the small minds encountered there. I just need to regain that positive feeling and attitude. I know...I’ll feel better if I go for a ride…maybe a nice night ride, using an awesome ZigLights light!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Time for a Lifestyle Change!

I’ve decided to seriously change my life. I actually made this decision many months ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I took my new life goal as a real and tangible thing. I’ve decided to become a “Lifestyle Entrepreneur”, or someone that creates an alternative income in order to create a better way to live. For me the choice was really founded on the fact that I am watching my two daughters grow up and I can’t really do anything with them. My job takes so much out of me that I either end up sleeping most of the day, or are just too exhausted to really do much of anything. Add to that the fact that I have absolutely zero personal satisfaction about my job and where I work. I knew that I had to change, but change is scary, and I had enough change the last few years to really cause me to hesitate.

What really got me going at this particular time is the fact that something that I make has been pretty much perfected and I’m ready to start selling them. I make lights for bicycles. They are battery powered, very strong, easy to use, and I think just about the best light out there. I made them to my standards, which are high, and I’ve been using them for months now with absolutely no problems. So I bought a domain name, created a website, bought the parts to make several lights to fill orders, and then stopped…..Scared. Why scared? Hmmm, good question. I suppose it was the fear that what I make will not be good enough, that I charge too much, mostly that I just don’t measure up. I know that these thoughts are ridiculous, but they are always in the back of my mind. I make great lights and everyone that has tried them has loved them. I priced my lights to actually be less expensive than comparable lights using the same technology. And I know I’m a good guy, I try to help people, I strive to be fair, and I know in the long run I measure up. My fears were ridiculous and unfounded….but there still. So I did what everyone recommends and I set a goal for when my website had to be online and made the choice to move against my fears. I figured the 4th of July, Independence Day, was a fitting time. In fact, two days before my deadline, I sat in front of the computer and realized that I had nothing more to do on the site. It was time to take the plunge and upload to my domain. The feeling of accomplishment, the sheer invigoration of knowing I had taken that first step to living my new lifestyle was amazing. I was on my way!

Since then I have refined the website, changed a few things, made it more appealing, but overall the thrill is still there. Now if I could only get a sale! I laugh at this, the stress of actually being online is gone and I am having fun figuring out how to market things and get my website seen. New goals have been set; my first sale, learn better web design, get my product out there for people to see, but throughout it all to keep a great attitude and think positively about where this business is going to take me. I picture my first European vacation with my two girls, paid for by my business. I can see myself traveling and having a good time as I talk to people about mountain biking with my lights and show them how much fun they can have. I look forward to going for bike rides in all the great venues, all as business expenses and tax write-offs with the benefit of having a great time as I do what I have a passion for, mountain biking. I can see myself sharing this lifestyle with my daughters, getting them excited to live in a healthy and fun manner with mountain biking at the center of it all. Plus just having the ability to make my schedule what I want it to be. To take charge of my life once again, and let nobody ever dictate what I have to do for their profit again. I’m not worried about getting rich, the foundation of this change isn’t money, but the freedom to be what I want to be, and the ability to invest in a better way of living.

PS. Check out my lights at and let me know what you think….or buy a set!