There’s earning a drink at the end of the day, and then there’s earning a drink at the end of the day.
Dr. Paul Simpson knows the difference.
When the demands of the average workday kept him a bit closer to his shady little abode in State College, the physician would routinely pedal the 35-mile commute to an office in Mill Hall on his bicycle.
You see, this exercise fad is not entirely without its benefits.
“The days always went better, and I felt like I did a better job,” Simpson said.
Sweetening the pot — or the glass or pitcher or whatever — was the discovery that with some camping gear and some good old-fashioned DIY spirit, he could make a margarita, a milkshake or some salsa at the same time.
His wife, Jude, saw an ad for a bicycle-powered blender that was manufactured by a company in California. The appeal of the bicycle-blender (blicycle?) was the same as any other novelty in that it was novel, a fun party trick — like people who can rub their heads and pat their bellies.
“It always tastes better if you blend it yourself — and you burn off the calories,” Simpson said.
The newer, healthier you doesn’t come cheap, though, so Simpson decided to save himself the cost of shipping and piece one together from a few everyday household objects.
That crank blender bought for weekend camping trips to Bald Eagle State Park? It'll look great mounted behind the seat of a bicycle. A random piece of plastic serendipitously discovered along the side of the road can make for an effective guard.
“The whole time you’re pedaling, the blender is working,” Simpson said.
So now you have yourself a bicyclender — but what to do with it?
Simpson takes it to Lemont’s annual strawberry festival and makes 60 or more milkshakes.
Sue Smith, chairwoman of the Lemont Village Association, said proceeds from the commemorative mugs that the shakes came in helped raise money for the organization.
“The bicycle-blender is a real attraction. Most people don’t believe it until they try it, and many do the pedaling themselves,” Smith said.
Simpson also has been known to mix the occasional beverage at Centre Region Bicycle Coalition events. He has been active with the group since 2000, before he and his wife had even moved from Texas to State College.
Cyclist-friendly towns are important to this doctor and have been since biking helped him shed 95 pounds from his former identity as an overweight high school student.
Now his passion for the activity is practically a professional mandate.
“It’s part of my job to encourage people to do what’s healthy for them,” he said.