Friday, March 23, 2007

Proud To Be Wearing This Shirt

Twenty-one years ago, in 1986, I walked into a local bike shop named Collins to buy my first road bike. My college swim coach had dictated that everyone on the team would do a triathlon for cross-training, and the only bike I had was a one-speed Schwinn cruiser that weighed about forty pounds and you braked by pedaling backwards. I had an extremely limited living-on-Top-Ramen student's budget, and I dropped almost 10% of my entire year's income on a maroon Peugot 12-speed. That bike saw me complete my first triathlon, and many others over the years (this photo is from 1989 in The Dalles, Oregon), it saw my love of the sport of triathlon take hold and grow. It took me on my first bike tour down the Oregon coast and through the Redwoods of California. Those of you who wholeheartedly love bicycling will understand the fondness I still have in my memory for that first bike. It took me almost twenty years to get rid of it, even though I'd moved on to a carbon fiber triathlon ride. But eventually I found a worthy place for it to travel on: first a friend who used it in her first triathlon, and then to a teenager who was doing a bike tour with the Superheroes, folks who do long-distance cycling tours in order to do good deeds along the way.

Fast-forward to the year 2000 and I have moved back to Eugene after over a decade of living in the Seattle area. We now have two kids and a primary focus of returning to this area was to ditch all the car-commuting and get back on two wheels again for basic transportation. We all troop down to Collins and they set us up with a Burley trailer for kid-hauling. The next year, we're back to pick up a Burley Piccolo tag-a-long bike for our now four-year-old son to ride on. A couple more years and he has mastered a two-wheeler. We return to pick out his first bicycle, an outstanding moment in any kids' life.

One of the things I like best about supporting your local bike shop, especially if it's a good one like Collins, is that you get more than a bicycle. You get the service and the helpfulness that people who are passionate about bikes can provide. When we took our son there to pick out his birthday bike, they treated him like Lance Armstrong himself had strolled through the door. They made sure he had just the right bike, it was fitted well, and he was looking sharp in his new helmet. He had a grin from ear to ear when he left with his shiny new blue bicycle. My husband got the same treatment when he picked out his Bianchi road bike, and again we were happy to support our local bike shop, knowing the excellent treatment we'd gotten there over the years.

Since then, they've maintained our town and road bikes, and shipped my tri bike off to Florida for me. They've consulted on gear, and didn't even ban us from the shop when our young daughter once accidentally tipped over an entire row of bikes (one of those freeze-frame parenting moments you'd love to forget). So all of this adds up to why I'm proud to be wearing their team jersey in the group photo above. They're not only a nice bunch of folks to ride with, but a place I'm happy to have available to me in our town. With the advent of internet shopping and the big box stores where a "bike" can be had for $100, it's sometimes easy to forget that there's more to buying a bike than just pointing and clicking, or going and picking one out of a rack of hundreds. A bike is a long-term purchase, an important conveyance and even an affair of the heart. It's good to have someone around to help you make a wise choice, and to keep you in good running form. I have a 20+ year relationship with my local bike store, and I'm happy to be sporting their logo.


TriGirl 40 said...

Great story of the benefits of supporting local businesses. Loved the part where your daughter knocked over a row of bikes! Cool jersey, too.

And - oh the memories of pedaling backward to

Ginger Breadman said...

Ahhh . . . the life of a bike. What a great story - not just of the bike, but the bike shop and the true thoughts of what it can mean to someone.

Funny to think - how your son will tell his story of the journey of that first bike - many years down the road.

13akbal said...

That's a great story! I can still walk into the LBS of my childhood and see familiar friends and faces. It's 90 miles away now, but I try to stop in anytime I'm close.