Since there’s not really much going on around here at the moment, I really started to wonder how I can keep posting things on here until something exciting happens. Sure, I could skip a day and no one would notice, but I didn’t want to take the easy way out. I thought that I could go back in time a little bit.
As y’all may have noticed, bicycles and beer are my main interests these days. I’ve only really gotten into good beer over the last few years, but bicycles have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. In the small town where I lived growing up, there wasn’t much going on. When I was a kid we rode bicycles all over the place from dawn until dusk, and car rides were reserved for trips into “the city.” Sure, most of the kids I knew had bicycles, but most of them probably had shiny new ones that came fresh from the bike shop (there were no big box stores nearby back then.) I didn’t have a shiny new bike, but I always had something to ride thanks to someone very important in my life.
That is a photo (obviously taken long ago) of my Granddaddy, Aubrey Muddiman. He worked on bicycles since way back in his youth, and thanks to him I learned to work on them too. When I needed a bike, we put one together out of spare parts he had. They were usually spray painted to make them look a little better, but that didn't mean they were always pleasing to the eye. They always worked though, and if I broke something we could head right out to the shed for repairs. I learned a lot back then, most notably that you didn’t need a fancy bike to have a good time riding.
It was back then that I had my first encounter with a local bike shop. Even though my bikes were always in perfect working order (for the most part), I always longed to have something fancy like a lot of my friends had. We didn’t have much money growing up, but that didn’t stop me from hanging around and window shopping.
There were two bike shops in my small town, and my Granddaddy knew the owner of one of them pretty well. He was in the aluminum business, and the bike shop was a side gig. The bike side of his store didn’t last long for reasons I can’t recall, but it may have been due to lack of interest on his part. The inventory wasn’t particularly large, but the customer service was good. I remember that he was a nice man, and we bought stuff from him on the rare occasion that we didn’t have it in our stockpile of used parts. One day he just quit the bike business.
The second shop was around for a long time, and he had a huge selection of bikes and accessories. The only problem was, he was an asshole. He would yell at his customers all the time (kids and adults), and didn’t really seem to give a crap if you were there to buy something or not. He sold bikes (and lots of them) somehow, even though he needed a lot of work on his customer service skills. When the other shop closed down, he was pretty much the only choice if you needed anything bike-related (unless you took a trip into “the city.”) I guess that’s how he managed to make his money.
I remember the shop being there when I was a little kid up through the time I graduated from high school. I left for the Army after I graduated, and a few years later when I came home I eventually noticed that it was gone. Even though a lot of people felt the same way as I did about him, he somehow managed to stay in business all that time. I guess you can say that because of him, I had a lot of disdain for bike shops for a long, long time.
In my adult life, I’ve found plenty of local bike shops that are really good. I’ve forged some good relationships with ones here in Charlotte, and even some in other states. However, I can’t help but notice that there are still a few that operate just like the one from my childhood that I mentioned before. What a shame. You figure that they would learn something after all of these years. I will never forget the way that jerk in my hometown made me feel when I tried to spend what little bit of money I had in his store, and it really sucks that I get that very same feeling to this day in some shops.
I guess that’s part of the reason I still work on my own bikes. Well, that and I actually enjoy it.
You know what they say, those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.
Oh yeah, I mentioned beer didn’t I? Well, here’s one I just recently tried:
Boatswain American IPA, picked up from Trader Joes by my house. It’s pretty cheap, which doesn’t normally make a good IPA. However, this one is really good. Just the right amount of hops, and a nice, smooth finish. I think even those of you that don’t like IPAs would find it delightful.
You do like IPAs though, right?
And on that note, I’m out.