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What’s it to you?

What’s it to you?

Reflections on the myriad meanings of the bicycle



By Matthew Metcalf


Riding a bicycle: it means so many different things to so many
different people. Whether positive, negative, or otherwise, I think most folks
in the world have some association with riding a bike. To see how many
associations there might be, try this simple thought exercise: imagine asking a
7-year-old, a doctor, and a farm owner each to complete this sentence: “riding
a bike is __________.” Maybe you would illicit responses such as “awesome”,
“therapeutic”, and “a waste of time”, respectively; obviously the possibilities
are endless. Whatever you imagined, it’s easy to see the vast spectrum of
meaning that the bike can have. 

For me, a cycling-obsessed amateur racer, life-long commuter,
safe-cycling educator and mechanic, the bicycle has a ton of points of significance.
Today, as I reflect on (and in) the recent snowfall here on beautiful San Juan
Island, I want to focus on one specific association: the bicycle as freedom.
I know a lot of cyclists, especially blossoming ones, can attest to the
liberating potential of the bike – here are a couple of my favorite freedoms
the bicycle helps me find.

 Freedom of movement

 Bicycles are capable of travelling in a unique number of ways.

This has been fresh on my mind since yesterday, when I rode my mountain bike a
couple miles through the eight inches of snow we were hit, err, blessed with.
This would have been a much more difficult, and probably more dangerous
undertaking in my partner’s rear-wheel drive car. Okay, the easy way around
that is to drive a 4×4, one might say. But even if my family had a more
snow-worth motor vehicle, driving two miles to buy a carton of milk would not
have included any trails, side paths, or stairs, all of which I enjoyed
traversing yesterday on my bike. Actually, if I account for walking the narrow
path around a closed gate, parking 10 feet from the store’s front door, and
rolling down a steep rocky bank, I can’t think of any other type of
transportation that could have done what the bike allowed me to do on that one

 Freedom of expression

This one might not ring true for all, or even most cyclists, but

for me a bike-y lifestyle offers a number of ways to express myself. I’m not
just talking about picking the perfect color hubs or the correctly shaped stem
(though I do love a stylish frame-up build), nor am I simply referring to the
way we choose to dress as cyclists. There’s something beneath the surface that
the bike helps me discover, and that’s my ‘self’ and all it’s peculiarities.

 Riding a bike is, let’s face it, going against the cultural grain

in this country. Even as environmental awareness is on the rise, and with it an
increasing public opinion of the bike, cycling as anything but a strange sport
for wiry white men is hardly normalized. Embracing a cycling lifestyle helped me
realize that a lot of the myths in our world are misleading, sometimes plainly
untrue. Exploring the world on a bike has, in a sense, permitted me to believe
things I want to believe and do things, like riding a bike to work as a 30
year-old dad, that the world doesn’t necessarily encourage. And that all helps
me feel more like I’m expressing my true self. 

Since being on two wheels is such a huge part of my life, I could probably write endlessly on this subject. But what about you? Even if you never plan to ride a bike again, you probably have some opinions about this
century-old, two-wheeled contraption. What does the bicycle mean to you? Whatever your reply, I bet it is different than your neighbor’s. And that multiplicity, that diversity, is one of the machines biggest strengths.

On Sale Now: Used E-bikes and Carbon Road Bikes!

Our old rental bikes need new homes…and are priced to sell

Cannondale Quick Neo E-bikes$1500 (MSRP $3000)

Cannondale Synapse Carbon road bikes – $1000 (MSRP $2100)

This is the one time of year to get used (and heavily discounted) bicycles from Meat Machine. These bikes are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t wait to stop in for a test ride on one of these high-quality machines!

Road Safety 101

Road Safety 101

Registration is now open for Meat Machine’s first Cycling Safety Class, taught by a League of American Bicyclists-certified instructor

Experienced bicycle riders of all backgrounds, disciplines and fitness levels are encouraged to attend

  • Proper bike and helmet fit
  • Bike handling and group riding skills
  • Safe traffic-lane positioning
  • To communicate effectively with other road users
  • Emergency stop techniques and obstacle avoidance
  • Traffic laws as they pertain to cyclists
  • Which gear suits your cycling needs
  • How to design the best route for your commute or trip
  • A bicycle in safe, working order
  • A CPSC approved helmet
  • Water, and lunch for the day
  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • To be at least 18 years old (youth cycling safety class coming in June!)

Meat Machine Cycles – 22 Web St. in Friday Harbor

We will begin with two hours of instruction indoors, then travel to Linde Park for parking lot drills, and end with a group ride around town.

Call 370-5673 or stop by Meat Machine Cycles to register for class. There will be two instructors present, with a minimum of 4 students, maximum of 8. Cost is $85 per student

Women’s Repair Class

Women’s Repair Class

Meat Machine Cycles is teaching a class on basic roadside repair. These are things every cyclist should know how to do, from emergency fixes to preventative maintenance. No experience necessary.

Taught by a League of American Bicyclists Certified instructor.


1st Night, May 10th – Roadside Repair

  • Flat Tire Repair
    • Front and Rear Tires
    • Punctures and Cuts
    • Mountain or Road
  • Broken Chain Repair

2nd Night, May 11th – Bicycle Care

  • Pre-Ride Safety Check
  • Helmet Adjustment and Safety
  • Preventative Maintenance
    • Proper Cleaning
    • Proper Lubrication
    • Tire Pressure
  • Post-Ride Check


  • 6 spots Available, ( 2 instructors will be present )
  • Cost $50
  • Location : Meat Machine Cycles, 22 web st.
  • Required Materials
  • Flat Change Kit
    • tube
    • tire lever
    • pump/Co2
  • Multi-tool with chain tool
  • Your BIke
  • Your Helmet
  • Women and gender-non conforming folks only


This course must be purchased prior to the event. To reserve a spot, stop by or call us at 360 370 5673



Baja Divide

Baja Divide

The Baja Divide is a ~1700 mile rugged dirt road bicycle ride down the Baja peninsula. For more info check out: BajaDivide. Seth will be out of the shop from the week of January 22nd till sometime in the second half of February as he completes this ride. During this time the shop will be without a mechanic, minor repairs will still be available Thursday – Saturday. The shop will be open normal hours (10-5) on these days.

During this time the shop will be having a sale on in stock 2017 Cannondale Cujos and all clothing. The Cujos will be 30% off of the marked price, the clothing is 50% off the marked price.

Follow the daily adventures in Baja as Seth and company post to the shop instagram account, @MMCycle. If you haven’t yet, follow @mmcycle for daily updates.

2017 Fall – Hours, Riding, and Sales.

2017 Fall – Hours, Riding, and Sales.

What a year! Moving, renting, wrenching and riding. We couldn’t have asked for more from the summer of 2017. With the season change however it is time to adjust hours and change focus.

Hours – Starting October 1st the shop will be closed on Sundays. For the fall and winter the shop will be opening at 10am and closing at 5pm.

Riding – The weather is cool and the riding is perfect. If you are starting to hesitate to get on your bike – DON’T! All you need is a bit of water protection and some smart layering to enjoy the best riding time of the year the island has to offer. Stop in and see us if you need some help with this.

Sales – Meat Machine Cycles has accumulated loads of odds and ends over the last two years. This makes it the perfect opportunity to have the first annual bike shop garage sale. More details in the coming days! Our entire hybrid rental fleet is available for purchase. The hybrids are only one season old and in great shape.

Have a happy and relaxing fall on two wheels or off.