On a visit to my friends at Prairie Path Cycles in Batavia, I noted the changes the store had done to improve the shop. The service department was moved and expanded to make the workflow go smoother and quicker. They were also set up with an all-new computrainer setup. It all looked very inviting. Nice work, Mike Farrell and crew.
In truth I was there to pick up a trainer skewer for the rear wheel of my Specialized. For some reason, I have never been able think of the word skewer lately when trying to remember to pick one up at the local bike shop. I’ll turn to Sue and say, “I need to go to the bike shop and pick up one of those…” and she’ll say, “Skewer” and I’ll say, “Yeah, one of those.”
So I walked into the bike shop and spoke with Mike Maravilla, a bike mechanic and longtime employee of PPC. “I need one of those things that goes in the rear wheel so that I can put my bike on the trainer,” I told him.
“A skewer?” he asked me.
“Yah, one of those,” I replied.
While he was off in the store picking out one of those…skewers, to put in my bike’s rear wheel so that I can ride on the trainer, I turned around to look at all the new bikes shining under the track lighting. And was mesmerized.
The scene reminded me of a place that I used to visit when I was a little kid. We called it The Little Store. It was a small grocery in a little building just off Route 222 south of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There was a rather large candy counter where you could buy all sorts of sweets such as string red licorice and Good’n’Plenty in a box.
At least once a week I’d gather up whatever money I could scrounge and pedal my little fat tire bike or walk the half mile to The Little Store. There I’d stock up on candy necklaces and Smarties, chocolate bars and Whatever Else struck my sweet tooth that morning. Then I’d bundle it up in shorts and pedal my way back home.
On a budget
The Little Store was first real exposure to personal budgeting and transaction. I was old enough to count change and even plot out my purchases. Once I started collecting baseball cards, each visit to The Little Store meant making choices between things I could keep (the baseball cards) and things I could eat (all sorts of candy.)
Sometimes these choices paid dividends on both ends. On certain summer mornings that candy tasted so good I would stop and sit on the steps of my friend Lynn Wagner even if he wasn’t home. Lynn’s place sat at the base of a small valley between The Little Store and my house at 1725 Willow Street Pike. I’d lean my little fat tire next to a tree and sit down to ingest a pack of Smarties or Sweet Tarts.
Then I’d open one of the packs of baseball cards if I’d purchased them that day. And hope like hell for players that I did not already have, or at least that I’d heard of before. It was quite a joy and something of a feat to find a Roberto Clemente or Mickey Mantle in your new set of baseball cards. But for some reason, I kept winding up with duplicates of players from the Philadelphia Phillies or New York Mets. I hated the Phillies because I’d been to their cheap concrete stadium, plus they typically sucked in the 1960s. And the New York Mets I hated because I never liked the colors blue and orange together. Not as a kid. But I credit that to some form of childhood OCD.
Still, who can deny that color matters somehow? That’s what went through my head as I was standing at the bike shop admiring the new bikes with their front tires perched up on racks so that the lights from turned their matte or shiny green and coral and black and blue into a candy cornucopia of sweet-looking bikes.
Never too many bikes or guitars
I turned to Mike and said, ‘You know, I can see what Robin Williams had so many bikes,’ and chuckled.
“Yeah, it’s like guitars,” he agreed. “So many models. You can never have too many.”
Bikes and guitars. They are similar in many respects. Lots of adjustment required.
One of the guys with whom I played in Praise Band at our church was always buying new electric guitars and sound devices. He’d show up with a new gadget to try out at practice and one time nearly blew our ears out because the sound toy malfunctioned, sending his volume through the roof. Several angels fell from the ceiling and were left writhing in the aisle between the pews.
“Hey, that’s cool,” he smiled. We all had our hearing checked the next week.
Some of the bikes at PPC had paint jobs that were nearly that loud. I wanted them all. Every last one of them. But just like the little kid in the candy story all those years ago, I know that choices must be made. I already own a carbon-fiber aero style Specialized Venge Expert, a Waterford steel bike with a blue paint job that gives classic bike fans an orgasm when they look at it, and my sturdy old Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike.
My steel frame Trek 400 is now in the possession of my son out in Cleveland. But he will be moving out west where he can ride all the time in the sunny climate of Southern California. So I suspect his candy store instincts may kick in as well. The kid is a good athlete and could be a helluva cyclist.
Or not. We all need to make our choices in life. I’m going to head home now and put that thing in the rear wheel of my bike to mount it in the trainer. I’ve skewered enough topics for today.