Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Purest Expression of the Bike Mechanic

For professional advice, I relied on Taylor, who worked at South Mountain Cycles, a bike and espresso shop in the central triangle of our small town... Taylor was wild-haired and supernaturally lean, and festooned his face with goatees, handlebar moustaches, ironic mutton-chops, and other expressions of his mood. He was somewhere between eighteen and forty, had probably looked that age his whole life, and would continue on ageless, appearing ever in his prime until some magic day late in his life when he'd instantly transform into one of those ancient, crumpled mechanics who sit at the workstands in bike shops like gurus on mountaintops... He was, at least outwardly, enthusiastically living a life focused on a calling that, like a teacher or social worker or nursing-home caregiver, was important but doomed by market forces to a wage most Americans would find untenable, if not unlivable... He was a wrench—the purest expression of the bike mechanic.

Ten Points, Bill Strickland
I was reminded of this beautiful passage yesterday, as I am every time I stop by my first-choice local bike store and this one particular dude is tending the place. I won't mention his name, because I can't be sure he'd be flattered by the comparison. But I have to tell you, the excerpt above is an almost exact description of the fellow. He somehow manages to be surprisingly generous, slightly weird, utterly self-possessed and untouchably cool all at once. He has all the appealing qualities of those young, hip bike-shop employees—without all the annoying condescension and arrogance. I go there almost as much to be around him as I do for the good advice and fair prices.

Lucky me, huh?


sarah said...

Hey! I got your note today in the middle if the rainstorm! Thanks for asking about the schroeder, if you know more about it i'd be really interested because I got it from an unknown person who donated it to bikes not bombs. Feel free to email me! Happy riding, and nice blog.

Velosopher said...

Sarah: Can't think of how to email you, but I did look up your bike's brand (Shroder, right? I also tried Schroder and Shrøder) and found nothing so far. I was just struck by it's beauty and uniqueness. Hope you find something about it someday!