Yesterday was the day. The day the Badger Cycles Dorothy had to go back to it's rightful owner. So, I packed up the bike in the car and made the three hour trip to go see Ben Witt of Milltown Cyclery. I found his shop in the downtown area and stepped into the candy store. This was a bike shop geeks, and specifically a 29"er freaks, dream visit.
Don't get me wrong. Milltown Cyclery isn't your swank, polished, uptown looking bike shoppe' kind a joint. No, no.......this is a real bike shop. The kind of place that you would expect to find hydraulic brake fluid on the mechanics area floor. A shop that looks comfortable, easy going, and fun. That's exactly what kind of shop Ben has, and it's a great place to hang out. Too bad every city doesn't have such a place, but it's easy to see why there aren't. Too much hurry-hurry in our lifestyles to slow down enough to take the time and just hang, ya know?
Ben hasn't just been content with hanging his sign up and waiting for things to happen though. He's been on the web and hitting the 29"er thing pretty hard, so he's got international commerce going on, so at least he's been saavy that way.
The fun thing about the place, outside of Ben, who is alot of fun to hang out with, was the whole atmousphere of the shop itself. Old wooden floors, long, narrow floor plan like much of the "main street" style businesses have due to the age of the buildings. The stacks of bikes on racks upon the wall, the gleaming parts under spotlights near the counter. And speaking of parts....... One of the really cool things about a real bike shop is how you can look around and find really high end parts sitting around that have been used or are in transition from one bike to another, or are simply just lying around the place. A box full of XTR drivetrain parts with a carbon handle bar and stem poking out, several 29"er front suspension forks sitting in the shop, a used pair of carbon roadie tubulars hanging from the wheel rack. Fun stuff and surprises everywhere you turn.
Of course, a wall full of 29"ers didn't hurt either! And speaking of 29"ers, Ben is a huge fan and supporter of the segment. While I was there, the first shipment of 29 inch Kenda Nevegal tires showed up off the Brown Santa's truck. Ben ripped open the box before the delivery man even got out the door, and we had ourselves a tire mounting party! We weighed them, fondled them, and bounced them on the floor. In 15 minutes Ben had a pair on the Dorothy I brought back and I took it out for a short cruise up and down the block. Fun!
That's what it was, fun. Like kids in a candy store, we were having fun, and that's what a real bike shop is all about. You know, Ben could have just whisked those Nevegals right to the back and I wouldn't have thought twice. But he didn't. He shared his enthusiasm with a fellow cyclist and made my visit special. I'm pretty sure I'll be back there some day.
That candy was pretty addictive!
Not to mention the monster burrito from down the street!.........(thanks for lunch, Mark!)
Hidden gem: Idaho.
11 hours ago