Welcome back to "Bike Shop Tales". I received a lot of positive comments last week encouraging me to continue the series. Today, I would like to dedicate this post to my friend, "Ears", who got this ball rolling again.
Back in the mid-nineties we had quite the "crew" hanging around at Advantage Cyclery. I suppose the big, open area we had for repairs was partly to blame. Folks could gather in there and not be in the way of normal everyday activity. It also didn't hurt that this area was somewhat closed off from the main selling area. The conversations didn't need to be "edited" for public consumption due to that arrangement. I suppose us shop rats were also somewhat to blame too! We certainly didn't chase anyone out of there!
Well, it wasn't long into my tenure at Advantage when I saw two high school aged kids coming in on a fairly regular basis. They were from a nearby town called Shell Rock and were asking about all sorts of high end mtb parts. Obviously, they were very well read (Mountain Bike Action) younginz. At first I figured that they were just pulling our chains, but then one of them actually popped for a new, gold colored Rock Shox Judy fork. We hadn't even seen one in the shop yet when this dude bought it. So, instant "cred" was afforded this guy and his friend. Turns out that I would become rather familiar with both of them in time. But at that time I knew them only as two punk kids from Shell Rock named Matt and the other one with the curious name of "Ears".
Fast forward a bit to when we were regularly riding with and seeing Ears and Matt in the shop. One of the features of Advantage was that there usually was an industrial trike or two sitting around with various busted up wheels and parts laying around for them. Now- You have to understand that an industrial trike is one of the crudest wheeled vehicles you'll ever see. Really ancient technology rendered in heavy mild steel. The wheels weigh a ton, are chromed, and very poorly made. A local industry made use of these trikes as a way to get around their manufacturing plant. Well, they routinely were getting mangled by fork trucks and we ended up picking up the pieces afterward.
So- What does this have to do with two high school dudes into mountain biking? Plenty! Ears and Matt would often come in with the usual "teenage angst" and we had a way for them to blow off some steam. We would hand them wheels from these busted up trikes and tell them to "have at it". Matt wasn't to into it, but Ears........oh yeah! He would go totally bonkers on those wheels until they were folded up into pretzels. It was a beautiful thing to watch!
Ears ended up having to go out back into the alley to do this most of the time, because the rage was so intense, you never knew what might get destroyed in the ensuing melee'. I remember one particular time when a trike wheel was seen bouncing up off the pavement about ten feet into the air, narrowly missing a parked car. I looked out, but couldn't see Ears. Where the heck was that maniac?
Turns out that he had scaled an outdoor stairway on the side of an adjacent building for a better effect. Throwing from a height increased the level of damage he could inflict upon a wheel, but it also vastly increased the danger factor! I had to go out and put a stop to that! A 25lb wheel launched from a second story landing, and ricocheting off in whatever direction, helter-skelter, was not cool!
Next Week: More Bike Shop Tales on Tuesday! Look for it!