Sunday, January 13, 2013


Mileage: .5
Weather: Low teens, breeze from south, intermittent light snow. Overcast.

This ride would be far to short to mention had it not taken me to the LBS. It is a very small shop, operated by the same man, D, since 1979. It is a medium sized two story garage, with a bike stand, newer bikes, and accessories on the main floor, and storage and used bikes on the second.

It is also where I will be working, beginning in February. This will be very part time at the start, maybe five to eight hours. But it is an opportunity that I am very excited about. I grew up working on the family farm, and I've missed using my hands as I've transitioned to working in an office. Working at our LBS offers me the chance to learn a useful skill, while doing something that I firmly believe benefits the community.

MG wrote today about her journey as a cyclist, and our paths begin in a similar way. Both of us cycled as kids growing up in the rural midwest. I took a break while I believed that cycling had no practical use for me as an adult. But then RAGBRAI came to town. In 2012, the small town where I live was overtaken by 20,000 some cyclists. My brother was going to be doing the first day, and I wanted to join him. Trouble was, my current bike was a Huffy MTB with a snapped one piece crank. So I went to the LBS and bought my current bike, the Sekai. (need a good name for it, ideas?). So I trained the spring and early summer, and for the most part enjoyed myself tremendously.

Trouble was that I was with a group of much stronger cyclists who occasionally enjoyed 25mph pace lines. That, and my horrible food choice left me utterly bonked for the last 15 miles. Oh, and a headwind and a heat index in the triple digits did not help. I was a rookie, and I showed it. By the time we reached the end town that day, my chest was cramped and I was having trouble catching my breath. Everything turned out alright, but I properly freaked my brother and my wife out.

Somehow the whole experience stuck in my mind as something that I wanted to do again, and in the fall I completed a 64 mile solo ride across the border to Minnesota. Not huge miles by many standards, but this summer I'm planning one, maybe two century rides.

Back the the LBS. My Sekai had something that I had never run into previously: Presta valves. These "French Valves" have a few basic differences that I had to learn about just to put air in my tires. Enter the internet, Lovely Bicycle!, Sheldon Brown and a huge community that loved giving advice almost as much as it loved riding.  Its been a rabbit hole that I still have not found the bottom to.

And so now I'll be working evenings and weekends at a little bike shop in a small town in a corner of the midwest known more for corn than for cycling.  But the whole point of a LBS is to support a community of cycling, and that can happen even a town as small as this.

I'm not sure how far I can follow this, if I'll love it so much that I switch to the LBS full time, or I'll hate it and never come back.

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