Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bike Shop Tales: An Introduction

Welcome to "Bike Shop Tales". This is the new series I will be writing up for awhile about my experiences as a bicycle mechanic, but won't necessarily be limited to that. In this post I want to outline what you can expect, and give you a bit of back round.

First off, this series will be mentioning real people and real events. I am running off of a 16 plus year old memory on some of this stuff, so I may not get things the way "you" remember them, assuming some of you reading this were party to these events. (Please feel free to comment in the comment section if you find motivation to correct me, or e-mail me from my link at the right).

I promise to reflect things as close to the truth as I am able. Some of the things I write may rankle a few folks, but hey- I am not going to write anything I am not ready to stand behind. So take that for what it is worth.

Okay, so enough of that. Here is the generalized back round of these tales. A context- if you will- of my life in the late 80's/early 90's. I wasn't always involved in the cycling business, and this is where I came from.

I had always been a fan of riding a bike, but found that most of the time, they wouldn't hold up to where I wanted to go. Basically, I wanted to go where I wanted to go, and usually it wasn't paved. Most of my college years were spent off the bike because of this. So when I found out more about mountain bikes in the late 80's, I thought they might just be the adventure vehicle I was searching for.

I bought a Mongoose Sycamore from Bombay Bike Shop in Cedar Falls, Iowa in 1989. That thing was awesome! I could ride it "anywhere", or so I thought, and I did. Flooded trails? Not a problem. Mud-pshaaw! Snow? That's just more fun. Well, all that "fun" was taking a great toll on that old Sycamore. It wasn't a great bike, in terms of the grand scheme of things, so its components weren't up to my abuse. Well.......probably no bike was really!

So it was that I became friendly with another bike shop in town. Bombay had closed up shop, and a co-worker of mine at the jewelry store I worked at suggested I check out Advantage Cycles, so I did. The proprietor, Tom, was a great guy. Easy to talk to, excited about my passion for mountain biking, and had sensible prices for service. I found myself stopping by at fairly regular intervals, since the Sycamore was often pretty "sick". Tom was checking out my bike one day, and after wheeling it back out to me, he carefully and tactfully explained that it was obvious my passion for cycling exceeded the ability for the ol' Sycamore to deliver. It was time for a new rig.

Well, I worked at a jewelry store as a salesman/designer at a place where we did custom jewelry and design. I suppose that was part of why I thought I needed something unique, something different. Tom loaded me up with all the catalogs: Mantis, Klein, Alpinestars, and about every off the wall, cool mountain bike company of the early 90's. I saved, scratched, and ate baked potatoes for three months, (really!) to save up the money to get the ball rolling. And not only that, but my first wife was going to get the same thing, so I was throwing down cash for two ultra cool rigs.

In the end, I ordered two Klein Attitudes. They would be the first Klein mountain bikes in the area. Very different, and with Klein's wild "Linear Fade" paint jobs, very unique looking. When the frames came in, Tom displayed them in the front window of the shop. I was pretty proud of that. I used to stop in about three times a week just to hang out and pour over catalogs deciding what to hang on these aluminum wonder bikes. That was a lot of fun, but I couldn't wait to get riding this bike, and learn how to take care of it.

Next week: Learning how to wrench.........

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