Ten years ago, I was at a juncture. Since graduating from college the previous year, I’d split my time between trying to make my way through the ranks of bicycle racing, and developing a cycling product that I thought might change the way people thought about cycling.
I was really enjoying getting to focus a great deal of time on bike racing. But all the while I couldn’t stop thinking about and working on my product idea. The notion of starting a business while trying to make a go at becoming a professional cyclist seemed more and more daunting. I found myself pursuing both directions together, and it was very unclear which path would be more enjoyable and fruitful.
On this same late summer day 10 years ago, with the attacks of September 11, 2001, the world changed dramatically. Inevitably, strong reactions followed. My reaction was to get off the fence and choose a path.
I chose to start a business focused on cycling with bicycle advocacy as a core part of the mission. This suddenly seemed like the only logical thing to do. With so much strife in the world over oil and religion, we needed peaceful solutions. What more unifying, peace-inspiring, oil-dependency-undermining machine is there than the bicycle?
I decided to dedicate myself to getting more people to appreciate, use and benefit from the bicycle.
With all my time dedicated to my social entrepreneurial goal, a business began to take shape. The original direction was to develop a bike trailer that transformed into a bike shipping case, allowing for a cyclist to travel nomadically and rely on their bike as their primary mode of transportation. The idea, called the CELLO Bike Case for BOB Trailers, was a bit idealistic and off-base from the real needs of the majority of cyclists, but it was a great introduction to entrepreneurship.
I stuck with that direction for several years developing the product and taking it into my own small scale manufacturing — all while learning about the nuances of the cycling industry and starting to dip my toes in the waters of online marketing.
My tentative start with the CELLO then led to a much bigger splash with the launch of BikeTrailerShop.com, followed by BikeBagShop.com, BikeKidShop.com and the full network under bikeshophub.staging.wpengine.com.
Our first blog, BikeTrailerBlog.com, was soon followed by the launch of UtilityCycling.org. Then came the opportunity to take over and grow what has become our premier blog and the center of our bicycle advocacy focus, this blog, CommuteByBike.com.
In sum, my reaction to 9/11 set the tone of my entrepreneurial bicycle advocacy endeavors.
The impact this business and this blog has had on the world, is hard to measure on its own. Yet as a part of one of the many voices gathering to contribute to the bicycle advocacy movement, I can confidently say that we are making this world a better, cleaner, healthier and safer place.
We can look around and see numerous positive reactions that grew in response to that terrible day. They are bright spots among the many dubious and outright negative reactions. As we continue to react to the changing world around us, lets remember the reactions that improve our world. Ride your bike today as a remembrance of 9/11 and as a positive reaction to it.