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What Makes a Really Good Bicycle Shop?

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I asked the question on Facebook and Twitter:

What makes a really good bicycle shop?

I’m opening up the comments and want a good sound off. I’m not giving you any ideas or going to steer the conversation, I want candid thoughts. If you work/own a shop please state so. If you are a consumer that doesn’t go to a shop anymore because of not being able to find what makes a good shop, please say so.

Ready, set, sound off.

My Ode to Mountain Biking, A Guest Post by Laura Colbert

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An on going series from Laura Colbert from Loose Nuts in Atlanta, GA. Click to read more from Laura.

I love mountain biking.  It’s an inexplicable love, given the tears, bruises, and soreness that it sometimes (…ok, usually) entails.  I have tried explaining to many confused friends the reasons why mountain biking is fun while one of my legs displays a blue and green bruise surrounding a still-moist cut that is a direct result of this love.  I imagine that someone viewing one of these conversations from across the room might guess based on the other person’s reactions that I’m explaining my love for a chain-smoking boyfriend who can’t hold down a job.  It always leaves the other person fairly confused and with very little to say other than “Well it’s not really my thing, but it sounds like it makes you happy.”

After leaving many of these conversations feeling disappointed with my inability to translate my affection for mountain biking into words, I think I can finally articulate my reasons for loving such demanding sport.  In my mind, it’s impossible to untangle the physical act of mountain biking from the short road trip to the North Georgia Mountains that precedes some of my favorite rides.  I live in Atlanta, which is known for its sprawl and its traffic, two elements that combine to create this extended mass of a city that has its own gravitational pull, making it hard to escape.  Don’t misunderstand me, I love Atlanta, but that doesn’t diminish the excitement of escaping from it and all of the pieces of my life that takes place inside of it.  As the car and the bikes mounted above it pass under the circular highway that demarcates Atlanta’s perimeter, I can feel the city’s pull diminish and I breathe a little easier.

Once the car finds that day’s trailhead, I have completely escaped the city’s inertia.  My ride begins and everything disappears.  I pedal away from the city, from work, from normalcy.  For a couple hours (or if I’m lucky an entire day or a whole weekend) I get to pretend that all of existence is the woods and creatures immediately surrounding the trail and that my sole purpose is to fill my daylight hours with climbs and descents.  It doesn’t matter that I have 87 emails in my inbox because I need to find the best line through this network of tree roots in front of my wheel.  It doesn’t matter that my family is stressing me out about Christmas plans even though it’s June because I have 50 more yards of rocky, baby-head uphill to climb before descending the amazingness that I know is just on the other side of this peak.  It doesn’t even matter that I’m so overworked that I have nightmares about my job because the shade feels nice and I finally found the perfect rhythm over those water breaks.  In the back of my head, I know that eventually the ride will end and I will have to return to all of life’s normal stressors, but it doesn’t matter in those wheeled moments. My first priority is my front wheel and my second is the back.

Even if life won’t allow me to escape the city and I have to settle for an hour long in a nearby in-town trail, I still leave my phone at home, pedal off quietly on my own, descend into some hidden patch of woods, block out the city’s traffic noise, and give myself a short recess, a momentary vacation from life. Mountain biking is an escape, if only temporary, from the constant tweets, status updates, and other busy-ness that we normally prioritize.

Given the other forms of escapism in today’s world (reality TV, alcohol, drugs, most of the internet) I think I’ll stick with mountain biking.


Interbike ’12: Cross Vegas

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Keep up to date with the Bike Shop Girl coverage of the 2012 Interbike Trade Show with coverage, previews, exclusives and interviews

A photo dump of random photos from the night of the 2012 Cross Vegas race during Interbike. Includes a trip on the Yakima party bus, tequila shots, bike races and awesome people in the industry!

Non Cycling Related Blabbing

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It is hard at times as a creative person to have my main (currently only) output to be a blog wrapped around cycling. There are photos, stories, heartache and levels of love missing from these pages.

For most of my high school through my early 20′s I had a site and online persona under the name of “Arsbars.” Don’t ask me where the name came from as it was something I picked up in grade school. Fumbling through the internet the other night I found remnants of high school, people and memories that I had buried in my memory bank. Faces looking so young and so long ago.

You’ve seen a lot of changes over the past few weeks in this site. I’ve been pushing a lot of effort into this site while dealing with heartache, closure and finding myself. This past weekend when I talked about the friendship I have with Charles I realized that my online community have friends have been one of the main reasons I have survived over the past 5 years of life.

It’s frightening to type that. To rely on people you barely know to pick you up when you need, to be the sounding board and back board when you are moments from the buzzer. Currently I am in phase of breaking down and rebuilding. There are moments of sadness but in the thick of it I am doing it for my core, my mind and my soul.

Life is hard, life is designed to be ups and downs so that when you find those moments of love, passion, laughter and completeness…you hold on tightly. There have been many moments of recent time that I was reminded of many gifts. One of those gifts is anyone that is reading this, anyone that replies to my midnight rants on Twitter or encourages me with photos of love on Facebook.

Thank you, I’m here for you and I hope you are getting out of it as much as I am.

Celebrating ARTCRANK and a Dear Friend

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Sunday morning, pounding on a keyboard as it seems to be a common occurrence of the latest Sundays. Catching up, setting plans and downloading for the week. Check gmail, say hello to friend, Charles, as it seems to be the only time in a hectic week we can catch each other. Picturing him in his office in Minneapolis, I’m often found on my patio in PJs.

The chats have become a weekly routine that I look forward to when I can catch him. Having friends that you are connected to online, is a strange and yet glorious thing. Charles knows so much about me, more than most, and I can say we have spent roughly 7 days together, 5 of those are when I crashed in his spare bedroom this past December. We can thank the internet, late night talks, a mutual love of bicycles, art and opinions. Friends like this are a gem so I wanted to quickly take a moment to celebrate Charles and his creation, ARTCRANK.

Bikes are the world’s most fun, accessible way to get around. Posters are the world’s most fun, accessible art form. ARTCRANK™ brings them together.

ARTCRANK is a show of bicycle-inspired poster artwork that introduces people to talented local artists and sends them home with affordable, original works of art. Every ARTCRANK show features posters created by local artists from the host city. Admission is always free, and posters are priced to let everybody take home at least one.

ARTCRANK began in Minneapolis in 2007. Since then, we’ve held shows in DenverSt. LouisPortlandSan FranciscoDes Moines and Bend. In September 2010, we held our first international show in London. And in September 2011, we held our first show at Interbike, the bike industry’s annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. For 2012, we’re adding new shows in Austin, Los Angeles and New York. – ARTCRANK.com


Going to Interbike?

Join ARTCRANK Interbike

Friday Shop Profile – Tennessee Valley Bikes

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As an independent rep for Quality Bicycle Products I travel to bike shops all over the Southeast of the USA. Visiting a great amount of killer shops, doing what they love and each one in their very unique way. Next time you’re close, check one of these out! Want to see more shops? Visit the tag.

Shop Name: Tennessee Valley Bikes (TN Valley Bikes)
Location: 214 W Magnolia AveKnoxvilleTN.
Number: 865.540.9979

The boys at TN Valley created a soft spot in my heart very early into my position. This is a shop that reached out to me right when I started to say “hi.” Normally, as a sales rep it is me doing the calling/emailing and introduction to say hi. Maybe it is due to the manager, Neal Knight, being a previous employee of Quality Bicycle Products. Either way, that “hi” went a long way.

TN Valley specializes in going super fast on dirt (mountain and CX) or setting up some pretty cool touring and urban/commuter rigs. They are the spot in Knoxville to test ride Salsa and Surly Bike, or try on some Lazer helmets when you are there. We currently are working out a overnight camping trip for this fall, so keep your eyes peeled and getting your gear ready!

Stop in and say hi to Scott and Neal if you are in the area!

Southern Spokes Recap

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I’m working on a long recap for SouthernSpokes.com to fill everyone in, thank a whole boatload of folks and get started planning for next year! Here’s some key highlights that I feel sum up things for my readers here.

  • A ton of women’s raffle prizes, and everyone that bought a raffle ticket won something
  • Kids rides, women’s rides, fat bike rides
  • Waffles and Nutella
  • Really good BBQ
  • No hail
  • Campfire stories
  • A guy that rode 140 miles from Columbia, SC just for the festival


War with the Industry: We are the Problem

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I have many bones to pick with the industry I love, I’m calling it a war - a war to get more butts on bikes, to get kids safer to adventure and for the industry to get their head out of the ground. First step was bike shops, the front line of the bicycle industry. Now to put more of a blanket across the complete industry, to everyone that calls themselves cyclist.

Here’s what I ask of you, as you are most likely a cyclist to read this blog…I ask you to take a moment and reflect on the thoughts I am bringing you.

How many sports interrupt everyone’s daily life?

Other than running, to a point, who’s “sport” stops the lives of the non-cycling population?

We talk about going after golf as a target audience of potential cyclist – golf has beautiful couses and ranges to practice our strokes

Runners can run on sidewalks

Baseball, soccer, lacrosse and football have fields with bleachers wrapped around

The Sport We Love Causes Chaos

We fight to share the road, should we be fighting to have our own roads, greenways and trails instead? Is sharing roads with 4,000 lb cars the smartest thing to do?  Do bike lanes, only inches, from 55 mph roads make sense? Do we belong on roads over 35 mph as road cyclist or commuters?

I sit here writing this while watching the latest stage of the Tour de France. Beautiful, romantic and exciting. I also watch thousands of miles of roads shut down. The closest I can think of this that is non-cycling is that of the Boston Marathon at 26.2 miles.

What is Our Hope?

The bike industry “is flat” they say. Of course it is. My family worry about me when I go for a ride on the road. I’m not able to ride my mountain bike locally when it rains, and it has been raining on and off all week. The local velodrome is 45 minutes away. The closest greenway, 8 miles away, is 3 miles long.

When you look for our hope, look to your neighborhood. Look at all the bikes with flat tires in your neighbors garage. What would inspire them to ride? What does the venue look like?

Our hope is not for the next Lance Armstrong.

My hope is for organizations like Streetsblog, a blog about sustainable transportation and livable communities. Side neighborhood streets, planned development and creating safe ways to move around communities.  That is how to get more people on bikes, out of the gym and out of their car.

Think About It

Next time you are out on the road, think about what is going on around you. Wave to that person that stopped for you or went AROUND you. You are interrupting their flow and their day. Just because you are able to be on the road, share the lane or take the lane, doesn’t mean you aren’t creating chaos out there. When we are riding 10 deep of 2 or 3 a breast, who is sitting patiently behind you in their car? Where did we go so wrong that we feel entitled to interrupting someones day because “we ride a bike”?

If your kids were in the middle of the street playing catch or kicking a soccer ball and a car comes down the road do you expect your kids to get out of the way or the car to stop?