“Bikin’ & Eggs”
Manicured beards were whipped into a Vikings rage. Children’s cheeks turned pink and women pounded peddles as 66 citizens battle the 48 degree temperature with one goal, “Bikin’ and Eggs!”
The bicycle ride consisted of a 10 mile out and back route within Johnson City limits and on the Tweetsie Trail with the starting location at the Trek store in downtown. This gave riders 2 miles of in-town riding and the opportunity to see Johnson City scenery. The turn around was the Rotary Club Pavilion approximately 4 miles from Tweetsie Trail Head and the vehicle parking lot at the corner of Alabama and Legion Streets.
Free breakfast consisting of 20 pounds of bacon, numerous eggs and gallons of orange juice was the reward for participants, for the store’s “Bikin’ and Eggs” Event, pun intended, according to Chad Wolfe, Trek Store Owner/Operator and host of the event. The inaugural event occurred at 8 a.m. on Feb 20, and Wolfe hopes to make this a monthly event.
“Of course we want to sell more bikes but the main point is to just get people back out on their bikes,” said Wolfe.
The event invitation said that participants must wear a helmet but could bring a bicycle if owned or rent one from the store. This lead to an eclectic group of bicycles ranging in years and styles as diverse as the riders themselves.
During his commencement speech, Wolfe said, “I dislike out and back routes, but with the nature of the event and time this is going to do. The route could/will change in the future.”
With the event happening at the end of February Wolfe was worried about rider turn out because of the temperatures. With more events planned, he and the store employees wanted to dabble with online registration, something they had not done before. This was a learning experience for him and his staff.
“We were hoping to pre-register 20 to 30 people,” Wolfe said, “and were shocked when 86 people pre-registered.”
Abraham McIntyre, 35, an employee of the store and bicycle enthusiast, was happy with the turn out. He said that one of the reasons he likes events like this is because it helps him gain a better sense of community and gets people back on their bikes.
“Cars are too fast,” McIntyre said, “community is stronger when you bike or walk because you get to see more.”
Riders could be overheard speaking to one another about safety and camaraderie. One senior participant said that she did not like riding alone and the only time she felt safe was in the group, because they stopped traffic. During the ride McIntyre could be seen riding ahead and stopping traffic on the route to avoid any motorized interference. Wolfe said the city gave him permission to do this and to close off side streets for 30 minutes or less without permits.
Nearly 100 miles of bicycle trails are listed for Johnson City at www.traillink.com, allowing bicycling to be a part of the culture here. According to Wolfe, his store is one of approximately 116 current Trek stores worldwide and Johnson City was not his first choice of location. In a city with a median household income around $38,500 from 2009–2013, according to census.gov, selling a $5,000 bicycle could be a challenge.
Dr. Leigh Johnson, a participant and U.S. Army Veteran, said she got into cycling at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, when she was a “61H/ family physician.”
“I can remember exactly the first time I rode a bike,” said Johnson, I was four years old, and when I got back on one, as an adult, I was smiling…Adults cycle for recreation, but it is a huge part of who we are growing up. When we are kids, bicycles allow us freedom.”
Smiling, Johnson took a moment to reminisce, and said that cycling was a huge part of who she was as child because it taught her personal responsibility. McIntyre shared this sentiment and said that if he had not had a bicycle growing up he would be a completely different person, but all Americans do not share this sentiment.
Many see the bicycle as a form of transportation and hobby. A deportation officer, Patrick Heeran, argues that people in rural areas do not get the benefit of bicycles; that the vastness of America is too great. He says bicycles are a form of recreation and transportation, that they are fun but not cultural
“I’d say they’ve been used as a mode of transportation,” Heeran said, “and plenty of people enjoy them as a hobby like people enjoy video games…but if we are painting in such broad strokes…what WOULDN’T be considered part of American culture. Some things can just be.
For one of the youngest participants of the “Bikin’ and Eggs” Event, the only thing she cared about was the food and bikes. The 3 ½ year old sat shyly next to a bicycle and her father, nibbling on bacon and drinking orange juice. Glancing at the floor, wearing on pink glove, one black glove and a green Patagonia coat, she quickly perks up, smiles and reaffirms that her favorite part was, “Riding bikes with my dad.”