Author Archive | campketc

Snow Day

Monday, 12/12

Last night when I got home from my weekly Dungeons & Dragons game, I looked up at the moon. The sky was hazy and warm, the round moon barely visible. The thought of imminent snow filled my head and made me swoon. I love the snow.

I woke briefly around 4 to gaze out the window. I lost myself in the soft glow of the pink sky. Ethereal, I thought.

This is what the other side looks like.

Hours and hours later, I sipped a second cup of coffee and swapped out the tires on my winter bike. A smile filled my face and my heart warmed.

Here I am, safe and warm at the Portland Gear Hub, having a snack and some coffee and letting my thoughts spill out. I gaze out at the small mountains of snow in the parking lot, the bar trees beneath a gentle grey sky. O! Portland Gear Hub. Thank you, I think to myself. As soon as we opened the doors, we had a couple come in for cross country ski boots. Within the next forty minutes, we had two more people buy skis or boots and a phone call regarding skis. We had a father and his seven year old son try on ice skates. And I found the most amazing winter jacket! Portland is gearing up for a snowy winter.

I talked with the boy who tried on ice skates.

“Do you have a snow day today?”

“Yeah! No school! I’m going to build a snowman!”

I hope he does. Maine in the winter is a special place. It is beautiful and mysterious and full of the promise of adventure. I love it. I can’t wait to get out there on my bicycle and find out what is in store for me.


Turning Points

Tomorrow marks the final class in the Basic Bike Maintenance series. At 4:45, we’ll unlock the door. People will filter into the shop. The ones who have come to previous classes will make tentative conversation. There will be talk of bicycles and hiking and all sorts of activities from the past week. And then, just a few minutes after 5, we’ll sit down together.

This is an important event to me. This is my first time teaching the class, let alone a new subject for me. It also marks a point in my own bicycle learning. When I started working at the Portland Gear Hub this past April, I knew how to repair a flat. I could change out a brake or shifter cable, but getting it set up was beyond me. Ainsley and Tucker patiently taught me how to set up brakes. They taught me how to fix a bent derailleur and how to re-pack a bottom bracket. They taught me how to look over a frame for damage and how to true a wheel.

I now pass that knowledge on. It’s been a great experience to first learn how to work on bicycles and then get to distribute that knowledge. I love helping bicycle enthusiasts go from looking at a complicated machine that won’t work to being able to assess and complete a repair. I love the questions that I am asked and can help clear up and the questions that I am asked that baffle me (there were just a few of those). And I love seeing somebody understand for the first time just how that front derailleur works.
A bicycle is not a very complicated machine. It utilizes simple machines. Levers and wheels and pivots work together. And through that working together, we have a beautiful thing. We have two wheels that get us where we need to go, that promise the chance of excitement and the breaking up of routine.

To me, a bicycle represents freedom. It represents the ability to get around town. It represents the chance to have an adventure. It represents the visceral rush of flying down a hill, heart pounding and late for work. And if that bicycle isn’t working, I know I can fix it. On the side of the road or at the shop, I can make it work. And now the attendees of my class can too (hopefully). And that is a beautiful thing.


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Today is a grey fall day. It is beautiful outside, not too cold and the trees are all in bloom. The contrast between the grey skies and the orange and yellow trees quickens my heart.

Today I am at work. I am safe and comfortable and warm here. I will help people of all kinds to commute safely, to find the right size helmet, to find a new pair of cross country skis that they might get outside and appreciate the beauty of the world and move around and feel healthy. I love being at the Portland Gear Hub.


I do not have a piece of gear for today. I do not have an outdoor concept to present. I am not pitching you on tents or backpacking. Here is what is on my mind today:


Be Together. 


It is clear that we live in a nation that is deeply divided. Today, I need to find somebody who has a radically different viewpoint than me and connect with them. In any way, we need to connect. We need to be whole and together and we need to understand each other.


Hopefully, somebody today will come into the Portland Gear Hub who thinks differently than I do. It will come up that they think much differently than I do. Please, come into the store. Be different from me. And let’s talk. Let’s talk about skis! Let’s talk about bikes! Let’s talk about that bowling ball that’s still sitting in the window with a sticker on it that says $8. Human connection is one of the most important things. We must have some common ground, right? And if we have common ground, we can then begin a dialogue.


We are a people that are on different sides of many things, and what we need the most is communication. We all want the same thing. To love and to be loved. To be safe and sheltered. To stave off hunger. It’s just that we see different means of reaching that end.


Please reach out to somebody and talk to them. Hear their words. Find common ground and connect.





Basic Bike Maintenance

The fall is my favorite time of year. Cycling in the cold, a runny nose, carving pumpkins, and hot apple cider are some of my favorite parts of it. I love the grey skies providing a crisp backdrop for orange and yellow leaves, and I love listening to Chopin’s Mazurkas with coffee in the afternoon. Especially when it first gets cold outside. That’s the best.

One of my favorite parts of fall is the return of the school year; new notebooks and pens. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the world of academia and I do miss it sometimes. Hence my excitement: This fall, I debut as instructor for our Basic Bike Maintenance class!

That’s right, every Monday night in November (sorry guys, gotta find a new Dungeons & Dragons night), I’ll be heading up this season’s installment of everybody’s favorite class. I’m excited enough about it that I’m even ok with missing Dungeons & Dragons.

Basic Bike Maintenance will run Mondays from 5 to 7. Each class is the exceedingly reasonable price of $12, or sign up for the whole series for $40. The first class focuses on bike fit and customization. The second class covers brakes. The third class we’ll look at shifting. The fourth class we’ll talk about bearing systems. I’m super excited about all of it.

Possibly the best part is that we’ll have time each class for you to practice what you learn on your bike. That’s right, bring a bike and practice your newfound skills on your own bike. Did I mention that I can’t wait?

Sign up for the class by following the link below, and I’ll see y’all on Mondays!


Latest Donations – cast iron pan, inflatable dingy, bowling balls…

Here at the Portland Gear Hub, we never know what sort of donations are going to come in the door. Last week, we got a handful of bikes (from Magna to Miele), tents, sleeping bags, about twenty fishing rods, and an inflatable dingy. Today, among other things, we got a bowling ball. Watching these items come in the door is inspiring. Today I find myself asking “what fun thing could I do with that bowling ball?” and “how could I invent a sport involving 5 Huffy bikes and a bowling ball?”

One of our exciting ventures this month is launching our brand new blog. Our aim is to highlight thoughts and ideas and exciting pieces of gear online for your viewing pleasure. And so here I am. I sit with a mug of tea, watching a group of people load a couch into a pickup truck outside, and muse about what sorts of things we ought to write about today. But wait! I believe I’ve stumbled upon it.

Just as we never know what to expect when we arrive at the shop, you can look forward to being similarly surprised by our brand new blog. Over the next year, we intend to present to you a carefully curated cut of the Portland Gear Hub’s finest– our finest ideas, concepts, inventions, and of course, gear.

This week, along with my self indulgent ramble, I’d like to present a fantastic piece of gear. I’m astounded it is still here. Proudly presenting: this cast iron pan.


This is a 15″ Lodge cast iron—-

Hold up. As I was typing that, a supporter came in with another donation. We just received a composite hunting bow (brand Rambo- pretty awesome) and a quiver of arrows. New favorite donation. Yet another thing I feel compelled to buy.

Stop reading and go outside.


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