All I want is a new paddle for my stand-up paddle board and a new bike. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently, it is.
Last summer, a friend loaned me his very nice carbon fiber paddle to try out while I was paddling on my board. Previously, I would have told you that all paddles are alike; you stick it in the water and propel yourself forward. What I discovered was that the difference was more dramatic than I could ever have imagined. The closest comparison to illustrate that difference would be the difference between an old steel Huffy ten speed (with a rusty chain) of the 1970’s to a brand-new modern road bike. I think you get the idea. I was sold, so I went out looking for a replacement. I confidently strode into the store, prepared to shell out more money than I thought reasonable to purchase my new, precious paddle. It seems everyone else had the idea before me as there were no paddles for sale. Nothing. Furthermore, they had no idea when or even if they would get new ones in. I was devastated. I was now permanently stuck with my old Huffy like paddle, which made me sad.
In other news, I also was interested in replacing my old bike with a newer model. While we spent so much time on Mackinac Island I replaced my mountain bike with a cruiser complete with the raised handlebars, comfort seat and basket in the front. I cut quite an image. Think of Miss Gulch in the opening scenes of the movie Wizard of Oz. The cruiser that I bought had been a rental bike for multiple seasons and I was lucky enough to buy it at the end of it’s last season in service and made it all mine. That was about ten years ago. So, to say that I needed a new bike was an understatement.
This time I was prepared to be disappointed, as again I was late to the bicycle purchasing party and there were no bikes available. I did not venture into any stores but made all my inquiries by phone. My disappointment would come in a quicker time and with less effort. The same message was delivered to me; they had no idea when or if they would get a new inventory.
It seemed that the pandemic caught everyone short. The demand increased as people looked for activities which they could do outdoors, while supply essentially evaporated.
I know enough about economics to know that supply will increase at some point to meet the demand with both bicycles and paddles. This will take a lot of work. Think of everything that will need to happen to build a bike. Materials will need to be procured (rubber, steel, cables) components such as gears, brakes, shifters will need to be manufactured. Once all of the components are gathered, bicycles will need to be assembled and finally delivered across the country. It is mind boggling to consider everything and everyone who will be needed to get this bicycle to Traverse City.
The American worker will soon be pressed into service in ways that we have not seen in decades. This makes me hopeful about the future and how our economy will grow. As we emerge from the throws of the pandemic and the related shutdowns, our economy is poised for great things. Those who are interested and have relevant skills will have no shortage of work. It is exciting to think about. Frankly, I can’t wait to ponder it while paddling on the north end of Lake Leelanau while propelling myself gracefully through the crystal blue waters with my new paddle.