Wednesday, January 13, 2010


stopped by my local bike shop the other day for a chat when one of the staff looked out the window and said "hey. that's erik's old bike that was stolen 2 years ago." i looked to see a guy pushing a bike with two nearly-deflated tires up to the outdoor air hose. the bike: bright yellow Cinelli track frame, fixed-gear, handlebars just as wide as the red Oury grips. the pinnacle of hipsterism (circa 2 or 3 years ago). the rider: nowhere near hipsterism, despite the fact that his baggy restaurant kitchen clothing suggested a career in the food service industry. the shop guys sprang into action, like another famous mystery solving crew:

Bicycle Chain Durham staff (from left), Chris P, Brian H, Princess Hollywood (retired), Geoff, and Linus

they questioned the befuddled "cyclist" who claimed to have bought the bike for $30. when it was explained to this dude that he was riding a stolen bike, he calmly surrendered the bike (although he hung around for a while, possibly trying to get someone to give him his $30 back). meanwhile the rest of the crimestoppers gang was on the phone, trying to contact the bike's rightful owner.

sometimes people, including myself, wonder what relevance do brick-and-mortar bike shops have in an era of cheaper internet retailers and do-it-yourself tutorials all over the web. but this episode points out the intangible value of a local bike shop with a staff that knows bicycles and the local cycling community. while their prices may be slightly higher, their value is much, much greater. they care about cyclists and their equipment. they take their job--getting and keeping people on their bicycles--seriously. true, it doesn't take a super sleuth to determine that people with baggy pants don't ride hipster bikes (or vice versa) or that guys who don't have their own pump and rely on the bike shop air compressor to fill up the tires on their tricked-out, obscure track bike are probably riding a stolen, tricked-out, obscure track bike. nevertheless, it does take someone with a real passion for cycling (and/or justice) to do something about it.

as a disclaimer, there are bike shop guys on our team, but we are not sponsored by the shop. i have never worked there and do not have any financial ties to this or any shop. i don't buy all (or even most) of my stuff through the local shop, but i do try to support them as much as i can. and if you don't buy much from your local shop and can do most of your own maintenance, maybe drop off a 6-pack for your guys and gals now and again.

now, the bicycle's rightful owner faces two difficult problems, (1) how to get the bike from durham to his current home in new york and (2) what to do with a terribly outdated hipster bicycle.

this episode also reminded me of my current favorite web-comic series, Hark A Vagrant, which in addition to historically- and literary-related comics that would appeal to nerdy English professors, has strange vignettes about Mystery Solving Teens.


John said...

Wait wait, this totally deserves pics! Did the dude have the silly six inch wide flat bars on there? Still riding brakeless? What about a huge gear ratio?

felonious said...

Excellent work, team! Scooby-snacks are deserved all around.