Today, I finally arrived at Charleston at 4:30. It was probably the toughest day so far puting in about 75 miles, most of it in headwinds and tough road conditions. There’s something that’s so elemental to doing this. I have a direction, I create a destination and I HAVE TO get there. There’s no support team that’s got my back. But maybe there is.
If you have ever engaged in the cycling community you know there are a lot of characters that it draws. It has its long peculiar history and customs and yet it depends largely on the latest technology and ideas of fitness and conditioning. Let’s just say its a conundrum that I don’t understand myself but and I’m caught up in.
Some cycling fanatics will think nothing of dropping $10K for a bike while others will carefully shop the best online deals and ways of fixing things themselves. Most would agree that biking is blend of art and science that pushes us to our limits. The one thing we have in common is the love of the idea of riding. The bike is the art form we just are just happy to be able to use it.
I was reminded of the brotherhood of cycling just yesterday when I was 50 miles into a 60 mile ride and was dying for something to eat. The trip that day Savannah to Beaufort provided few opportunities to stop in the morning so I kept plowing on. Before I knew it, it was after 12:00 and my stomach was telling me to find any place for something to eat soon. I glanced across the road and saw a business park area that had a “Cafe” sign and I quickly turned in.
In the first set of stores I passed, I saw a sign that said “Lab Cyclery” and a guy that was waving me over. I pulled up and after remarking what a sweet ride I had said “Come on in and let me look over the bike for you. Looks like you have been on the road a bit.”
Bill immediately notices a few loose bolts, things that need adjustment and of course the grime and dirt. He puts the bike on a rack and checked every bolt, gave me a handful of bolts for that rack that has been a problem and says “Give me a few minutes to clean this up for you.” I go and get lunch next door and come back with a fully tuned and really clean bike ready to ride! I am amazed.
Bill is the owner and recent transplant down here in the low country. He is a bike lover and has worked on more bikes than I could imagine for other shops. He comes from the Syracuse area and also has skills as a machinist. A trade that is dying in this age of mass production and globalization. But Bill also had a dream.
He answered an ad for store manager and mechanic for a well known bike store in a neighboring town of Bluffton and moved with his wife here. No sooner had he moved than a week later he got notice that the store was closing. So, he decided to open his own shop. I wish him the very best luck and wished I could do more. I know starting any business is difficult. Starting a cycling shop is far harder than most.
Bill represents the heart and beauty of cycling which none of us want to die. He wanted no money from me after working on my bike for an hour, giving spare bolts. I needed to beg to pay him something. I bought a tire pressure meter which was needed anyway. We empathize and know what the pain and pleasure of riding is all about and we share that among ourselves. This business thing is just an unfortunate way to carry on our obsession.
The best I can do for Bill is let everyone know he is there and should be patronized and lionized for his act of kindness which I am now obliged to pay forward. Cycling is such pain, pleasure and glory.
Here’s where I want you to promote or go if and when you get to the “Low Country”
149 Riverwalk Blvd. Suite 12
Ridgeland, SC 29939
Thanks once again Bill. You da man!