MonkeyLectric Blog

Photo courtesy George McCall

For the past four years, George McCall has been poppin’ and sustainin’ wheelies to raise funds for and awareness about childhood cancer. He got in touch with us last month, asking after the Monkey Light Pro to advertise his cause as he wheelies 108 laps (27 miles!) at this year’s Relay For Life in Augusta, Georgia on May 18. We got to talking, and learned about his mission,  Wheelies 2FightCancer.  Wheelies2FightCancer has raised upwards of $15,000 for the American Cancer Society, and is hoping to bring in $5,400 more this year.

We were impressed by George’s uncommon wheelie prowess and inspired by his fundraising efforts, and wanted to know more. We asked and George answered.

 

How’d you get so good at doing wheelies?

As best as I can remember (and document), I began riding bicycle wheelies in the spring of 1976; about the time I turned 12 years old.  Similar to a cell phone today, back then (especially as a boy) you had to have a bike in order to interact with your friends. We were on our bikes all the time.  Of course we always raced each other, and tried to out jump each other, and being able to ride a long wheelie was just another way to enhance your status among your friends.

Riding a wheelie is a great feeling.  It’s the best and longest lasting natural high I’ve ever experienced.  And the wonderful thing about natural highs is that you never develop a tolerance to them.  So, I’ve done a lot of wheelies over the past 42 years, and I guess I couldn’t help getting a little better in the process.

 

What are some wheelie tips you can offer to aspiring wheelie-ers?

Somewhat surprisingly, it’s not so much about having great balance.  It’s about applying just the right amount of power to the pedals. You need to be riding on a smooth surface with at least a small incline.  Once you lift the front wheel into the correct position, you maintain that position not by moving your body but by pedaling harder to slightly raise the front wheel and pedaling “less hard” to slightly lower it.  This adjustment process is constantly going on. Once you understand this, it just takes a lot of practice to make it work.

 

Would you call wheelies a trick, or an art form?

My wife is an artist, and she has helped me to better appreciate art.  On my website, I describe my wheelies as “serendipitous, temporary public art” because they give people something unusual, interesting, and enjoyable to see.  Isn’t this what art is supposed to do?

 

Can you describe what impact you feel this art has on those who experience it?

I believe I have what is a universally objective (as opposed to personally subjective) definition of what “good’ art is:  “Good” art inspires others to want to become artists themselves!  My hope is that when people see what I do, and learn why I do it, it will inspire them to express themselves in some constructive way as well.  I get the impression I am doing this at least to some small degree because of the comments and shout-outs I receive from a wide variety of people from children to adults.

 

What inspired you to start Wheelies2FightCancer?

A dear family friend, between the ages of my two boys, battled cancer from age 11 until he died at age 17.  I began doing the American Cancer Society Relay for Life with his family during those years.  I wanted to do something a little more exciting than walking, however, so one year, I did laps on Poweriser “running stilts”, the next year I did laps on a unicycle, and then in 2013, I started doing laps on the rear wheel of my bike.  Wheelies2FightCancer formally came into being in 2015.

 

How do you get the word out about this work and raise funds?

Mostly by word of mouth, some mailings, a website, and Facebook posts.  My overarching marketing strategy is this: I want people to say, “That gray haired old guy is going to do more than 26 miles worth of wheelies to raise money to fight cancer?!?  Sure, put me down for $X!”

 

Do you have any people you work with, or is it a solo mission?

It’s pretty much a one-man operation, but anytime I ask for help, my wife, family, friends, the local bike shops, the American Cancer Society, etc. are more than willing to do what they can.

 

What impact has Wheelies2Fight Cancer had on your life, and the lives of others, do you think?

Raising money for the American Cancer Society by riding wheelies has been a great “second job” for me.  I’m always trying to put on a good show in hopes of securing that next donation. (By the way, my website is set-up such that all contributions go directly to the American Cancer Society; no money passes through my hands.) And of course bicycle riding is great exercise and helps me to stay in shape.

Regarding others, I hope that I will inspire people to exercise and to find ways to give of themselves.

 

What’s next for Wheelies2Fight Cancer?  Can you share with us your goals for the future?

I need help in the public relations arena.  My website is clearly amateurish, and I’m a white-belt at best when it comes to Facebook.  Next, I’d like to get some long-term supporters. Every year, I write to the companies whose products I use (Giant bicycles, Gatorade, Powerbar, Red Bull, etc.), but I haven’t yet gotten on their radar.  Finally, I hope I can keep at it for many years to come. Both my parents are in their 80’s and doing well. I hope I can still pick-up the front wheel when I’m in my 70’s.

 

What bikes are best to perform wheelies with?

It can be difficult to tell by just looking, but once I get on a bike, I immediately know if it will be easy or hard to ride a wheelie on it.  It would be interesting to have a bicycle frame designer measure my bike and me and see if there is some kind of interesting correlation.

 

Do you have anything else you’d like to add about biking, raising money for charities, or anything else?

One of my pastors gave us a great guideline for living: promote human flourishing.  It’s such a simple and manageable way to approach life. Look at the gifts you’ve been given and try to find ways to use them to make the world a little bit better place.  I’ve raised more than $15,000 to help people with cancer by doing something as silly as riding a bicycle on one wheel. If I can do that, think what you could do!

 

If you’d like to donate to Wheelies2FightCancer, click on over to his site.  All money collected there goes straight to the American Cancer Society.

We had posted a video on Facebook featuring a tough little Monkey Light undergoing some duress—getting knocked about with a hammer, soaked in water, smashed on the ground—and taking it all like a champ. While the resilience of the light  may have impressed some, one commenter wanted more.

Thus it was that the suggestion came about to submerge the poor light in liquid nitrogen. As the prospect of handling LN2, a cryogenic substance with a boiling point of -321 degrees Fahrenheit was less than appealing, we were ready to laugh off the proposition. Enter: David Gibson, Museum Educator at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. A man unafraid. And with access to LN2 and a laboratory.  He saw the suggestion and volunteered to give the light a freezing ablution. The gauntlet thrown, we kissed goodbye an M204 and sent it off to Albuquerque to meet an unknown fate. 

You’ll have to watch the video to see how the Monkey Light fares. All we gotta say is, we’re proud of the little tyke.

The Burley Flatbed makes it easy to carry cargo on your bike.  We've got one here in the shop, and it took less than 5 minutes to install.  We currently have it connected to our Karmic Koben S e-bike for delivery runs.  Win this trailer and some of our M210s and M232s.   Open to residents of the USA only.  Scroll down to enter! 

A very well-lit Karmic e-bike and Burley trailer

The fine print

Open to US residents over the age of 18 only.  For official rules, click here.

 

The Filmed by Bike film festival is on a mission to inspire people about bikes in a creative way. That’s why they’re headed to SXSW– the  South By Southwest Film Festival  in Austin with a Popup event. To support this cool endeavor, we’ve given them some Monkey Lights to put on a fleet of pedicabs.

Photo from www.austinbikezoo.org

In addition to movie screenings and live entertainment, artwork by Austin Bike Zoo will be featured at the Popup, including the Giant Rattlesnake, an 80 foot long slithering contraption that seats 6 people, which the Filmed by Bike team will ride through the streets of Austin.

“Our goal st SXSW is to get people excited about bikes, and to do that in a creative way,” says Ayleen Crotty, Founder of Filmed by Bike and Festival Director. “SXSW is crowded and busy – we offer a respite in the middle of this frenetic environment, and  a chance to sink into a realm of creativity.”

The Popup will also be an opportunity for the group  to introduce themselves to a wider audience, who may want to bring Filmed by Bike to their towns and cities.  

“We  specialize in short independent films. Our filmmakers come from from all over the world, offering a glimpse at global bike culture,” Crotty said.

Filmed by Bike is crowdfunding the Popup via Indiegogo. They have almost reached their goal, but could use some more support before the campaign ends on Wednesday, March 7. If you feel compelled, you can donate here. 

 And if, by chance, you plan to be at SXSW, stop by the Filmed by Bike Popup event for bike movies, free popcorn, bike sculptures from Bike Zoo, live performances and much more. 

The Filmed by Bike SXSW Popup

503 E. Cesar Chavez

March 13 + 14 

6:00 – 11:00 p.m.

Free and open to all!

 

We got an email from Renata, of Prešov, Slovakia with information about a ride that she hopes to organize every year on January 6th.

They ride in the dark, and in the biting cold of winter.  It was -15C when they rode last year.

Cyklométa in Slovakia

It’s called Cyklométa.  She started the event out of the desire to make sure people were safe and visible while riding.  During the inaugural event, riders found whatever lights they could and rode through town, decorated like Christmas trees.  They had a great time showing that riding a bike in the dark can be safe and fun together.

 

Cyklométa in Slovakia

 

 

Now on their third year, they hope to continue their lovely tradition of bringing creating a light parade during the coldest part of winter in Slovakia.  We’re happy to be donating product for a prize this year.

You really should check out the video from their previous rides.  It’ll bring a smile to your face.

 

Give their Facebook page a visit for more information on this charming event!

 

 

Monkey Lights are the best way to stay visible at night, and riding with friends is the best way to ride!

 

We’re excited to have worked with 2001 films and New Media Systems on this video. It features a ride by Boulevard Burger & Brew and a ride by through the Virgina Museum of Fine Arts.

 

The video features extensive use of our M232 bike lights, with one Monkey Light Pro thrown in for good measure.

 

We hope you enjoy the video!

 

 

 

This was our version of Black Friday.. No shopping, just shipping. It’s great to be able to do this by bike.

 

Karmic Koben with Monkey Light Pro and a bunch of packages.

 

We thought we’d have some fun with the Karmic Koben S and make the trip over to FedEx by bike instead of by van.  We actually had a little trouble getting out of the door because we forgot that the trailer was just a little to big for our doorway.  So, we had to back it out and use the roller door instead.

Riding was a breeze with the e-assist.  That shipment was off to Europe.  Bon Voyage!

Our Thanksgiving Monkey Light and TiGr Lock Giveaway

We had a lot of fun with our last giveaway, and wanted to come back with an even better one.  We've teamed up with Tigr titanium bike locks for this Thanksgiving edition of our giveaway!

Can't wait? Buy one now:

Purchase a Monkey Light from a dealer:

Visit the TiGr Lock Store!

Visit the TiGr lock store.

Dixon's Bike Shop Mural by Catherine (_cck_) on Flickr

Dixon's Bike Shop Mural by Catherine (_cck_) on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/_cck_/3444716049)

We want to know which bike shop is your favorite. Let us know in the survey below!

We’re excited to release this promo clip from our new video, shot in Richmond, VA with 2001 Films and New Media Systems.  It features many of our M232 bicycle wheel lights and one of our Monkey Light Pros.  Check it out, and give it a thumbs up if you like it!