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The Uncommon Life

Top 5 Bike Haikus

June 20, 2014

Bike Haikus | UncommonGoods This Spring we hosted a contest advertised in our catalog for our most talented customers. The contest was a call for a haiku about a bike in celebration of our new Bike Tote.

To announce the winner, and since it was so hard to decide on one, we wanted to share our favorite entries with you!

5. Click, hum. Roll quiet / across town and back again. / Pollution-­‐free ride.
– David, Tennessee

4. O the dreaded hill, / you seemed so small from afar. / I have conquered you.
– Renee, California

3. Suspended in the rafters, / my bike hangs like a bat. / Lately I grow fat.
– Scott, New Jersey

2. When I tell you, “Ride,” / I mean let the wheels take you / where you least expect.
– Maya, New Jersey

1. Two-wheeled beloved, / time machine on which I am / always young, flying.
– Erica, New York Our winner!!

Thanks to everyone who participated by crafting a 5-7-5 masterpiece. To find out about our future contest, check out our catalog or follow us on Facebook.

The Uncommon Life

Celebrate Cycling for National Bike Month

May 17, 2013

Since May is National Bike Month, and today is is Bike to Work Day, we’re celebrating by sharing some stats about how our team gets our bike on.

In NYC, biking to and from work is among one of the regularities of city living. When the subway stations are too hot, humid and crowded during the summer, it’s not too uncommon to see bikers out enjoying the breeze as they cruise through the boroughs to work. Actually, NYC has ranked #7 on the Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities list and have you heard about the new Citi Bike Membership program? Awesome.

Jessica McDonough, Associate Art Director, on a cruise.

Here are some quick facts about UG bike riders:

How we get to work.

Lee Griffin, Operations Manager, walking his bike through the warehouse to his office.

The time we spend riding to work.

Mindy Wilson, Human Resources Manager, gives biking a thumbs up.

Who’s biking by department.

And the top three UGooders (combining commute in miles, commute in minutes and frequency) are…

#3 – Laura Frost, Customer Service Assistant Manager
8 miles, 60 minutes, Average of 4 – 6 times per month

#2 – Erin Fergusson, Senior Manager – Merchandising
8 miles, 40 minutes, Average of 3 times per week

And, our #1 bike commuter is…
Dave Bolotsky, Founder and CEO
8 miles, 35 minutes, Average of 3 – 4 days per week

Maker Stories

Meet Laura White, Bike Lovers Design Challenge Winner

October 15, 2012

The entries to our Bike Lovers Design Challenge ranged from the beautiful (stunning and evocative art about bikes) to the practical (sturdy and useful bike accessories). We were delighted by all of them. Perhaps because winter is coming, the entry that tickled our fancy the most was a suncatcher.

Laura White’s Bicycle Cog Suncatchers are lovely pieces of everyday art. They creatively combine upcycled metal bike parts with colorful, translucent inlays to harness the sun’s light and create a stained glass effect.

We asked Laura about her crafty, bike-y life.

What’s the weather like where you live? Is there a lot of sun?

For the last four years I’ve lived in Southwestern Virginia, prior to that I had spent my entire life in Michigan. The biggest draw to this area was the mountain biking. It is an outdoor lover’s heaven. We have some of the best mountain biking in the world. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the edge of town, so there is also great road cycling.
The weather is very mild, at least compared to Michigan. Lots of sun and blue skies.

How did you first get into making things and being crafty? What kinds of things did you make back then?
I think I’ve always been into crafting. As a kid my favorite part of school and day camps was the arts and crafts. I was also heavily influenced by my grandmother, who did a lot of crafting. She taught me to knit, and one summer we sewed a doll. She was also good at saving household items that would normally be discarded, and using them in craft projects.

How did you get into biking, and when did it turn into a major passion?
I rode my bike a lot as a kid, both for recreation and as a way to get around before I could drive. I left it behind once I got a car. But then in my 30s I attended a bike race with a friend and decided that I had to do that. So I bought a bike and began training and racing. My love of cycling has grown from there. I don’t race much anymore, but cycling as a lifestyle and as transportation has become something that I am passionate about.

What was the inspiration for your Bicycle Cog Sun Catcher?
I had been making items out of recycled bike parts for several years. Several years ago, I had a daydream. Fast forward almost three years, I now I have a beautiful daughter (and a piano). I still have to work a regular job, but supplement with crafting.

I had made bike chain stars for several years and was growing tired of making the same thing and wanted to make something more “fun.” Something that would be colorful and cheerful instead of just metallic and hard. I had a sun catcher hanging above my daughters changing table that she loved. I liked the way the sun hit it. One of those fun craft projects I did as a kid was to make suncatchers in the oven. I decided to try to use the cogs as a medium for the suncatchers.

What other things do you like to make? What are you best at? Worst?
I really like anything that’s art or crafty. I love to knit, that is probably one of the things I am best at. Painting is probably the thing I am “worst” at. I love to paint but find that I am too much of a perfectionist when it comes to painting and tend to ruin the pictures by trying to making them look real and perfect. If I could embrace the abstract a little better I would probably be better at painting.

Is there any common theme, style, approach, or thought process to most or all of your craftwork?
Biking tends to be a common theme in my craftwork. I think I just love biking so much that I try to incorporate it into my life. Even my knitted items tend to have a bike theme or little bikes knitted into them. I also try to make things that are practical and I can use. That’s typically how a project starts. I’ll see something that I need and my first thought will be “can I make that?”

Do you enjoy making things out of things that would otherwise be discarded?
I do. I try very hard to live a sustainable lifestyle, which is part of the reason why I love cycling as opposed to driving. I try to limit the amount of waste I create by reusing and recycling items. I often find myself saving things that would typically be discarding, thinking, “I bet I can make something with that.”

What’s your favorite thing that someone has said about something you made?
When someone responds to something I’ve made by first being impressed that it was crafted for them and then saying “You should sell these.”
I recently received a picture from a mom that purchased a couple of suncatchers. It was of her daughter admiring them. I like when other people find joy and beauty in the things I’ve made.

The Uncommon Life

Meet Pasqualina Azzarello of Recycle-A-Bicycle

September 19, 2012

Meet Pasqualina, Executive Director of Recycle-A-Bicycle and one of our judges the Bike Lovers Design Challenge.

What is one uncommon fact about yourself?
I’ve traveled to 47 of the USA’s 50 states

What is Recycle-A-Bicycle? Recycle-A-Bicycle is a community based bike shop and grassroots non-profit organization that utilizes the bicycle as a resource to foster youth development, environmental education, community engagement, and healthy living. Through retail storefronts, social entrepreneurship, innovative programs, and an annual Youth Bike Summit, Recycle-A-Bicycle empowers the youth of New York City and beyond.

What kind of bike do you ride?
I ride a Fuji touring bike that fits like a glove. From the mountains in California to the city streets of NYC, this bike is both speedy and solid, good for distance riding and strolls.

Where is your favorite place to ride?
The Rockaways!

How do you define good design?
When every part informs the whole.

Cast a vote for your favorite Bike Lovers Design Challenge design and leave a comment to help Pasqualina and Emily decide the winner.


Bike Lovers Design Challenge Call for Entries

September 12, 2012

We are hosting a call for entries for our newest and most exciting design challenge, the Bike Lovers Design Challenge, until September 15th at midnight. Send us your jewelry, accessories, gadgets, doo-dads and gizmos that could make their way into the hearts of any cycling enthusiast or weekend cruiser.

If you have a product that is geared towards our latest challenge, check out the full contest rules and submit your designs here!

The Uncommon Life

Biking to Work

May 15, 2011

May 16-20 is Bike to Work Week, and it’s the perfect time of year to give your bike a tune-up, and start pedaling.

I checked in with Mindy, our HR manager, who has been biking regularly in 2006. She’s been testing out our new Cycle Care Kit, $15, to see if it helps her keep her bike in great shape.

Made in Atlanta, the Cycle Care Kit has a selection of bike care products, along with bug repellent, to make sure your daily bike commute, or weekend bike trip, goes smoothly.

Continue Reading…


The Historical Conquests of the Bicycle

May 21, 2010

I’d like to start off this post with one of my favorite quotes about the bicycle from a Baltimore minister in 1896:

“[It is] a diabolical device of the demon of darkness … imbued with a wild and satanic nature.”

Whoa! Talk about a rough start. But that is the how the bike began. With criticism like this, it’s amazing that the bike even survived to modern times.

The bicycle has been rolling along now for nearly 200 years. It has undergone multiple transformations, endured harsh criticism and even changed the face of fashion. This seemingly simple machine inspired automobiles, plane designs and modern roads. It helped the campaign for women’s rights, expanded people’s worlds, and, today, it is enjoyed across the world over as a way to exercise, commute or just enjoy a nice day.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, in honor of Bike to Work Day, I present to you: the history of the bicycle!

Rolling through history

Imagine a bike made entirely out of wood: no means of steering, no brakes, no pedals and an animal head in front. That’s what the first versions of the bike looked like. Mede de Sivrac invented a two-wheeled device in 1790 that was basically a rocking horse with wheels. Although the origins of the bike are disputed, historians consider this invention an inspiration to the modern bicycle.


In 1817, Karl von Drais replaced the head with steering bars and a less bulky design. Although primitive, the steering capabilities sent this version into further development. This slight alteration earned von Drais the title “Father of the Bicycle”, even though the invention was impractical for long-distance travel. Not to mention, it scared the locals. According to Riding High: The Story of the Bicycle by Arthur Palmer, adults and town leaders thought von Drais’ contraption was dangerous and threatened to expel him from the streets if he didn’t give up his crazy ideas.


Von Drais’ bike mainly was used for downhill riding and involved a lot of awkward pushing and coasting. Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a blacksmith from Scotland, didn’t find this propulsion method practical. In 1838, he added pedals to the frame, which allowed riders to propel themselves without touching the ground. This version was the first practical bicycle.

Continue Reading…

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