My local bike shop is Strada Cycles in Bedminster. It’s a small but perfectly formed treasure trove of high-end road erotica, but also stocks a range of bikes to cater for all types of cyclists. It’s important to support your local bike shop for all sorts of reasons and I’m going to try and list a few.
1. Bikes are tactile and physical objects which require a physical and tactile buying process. Getting the right bike is something that requires a real-world experience. You need to see if a 58cm in X frame is the same as the 58cm you ride in Y frame, take it out for a spin and get some advice on all manner of things like stack height and Q-factor. The experts at your LBS provide this service.
2. Bikes need fixing. I like to see myself as a mechanical wunderkind and in truth, i’m probably somewhere above the layman when it comes to bicycle engineering. I can assemble and fix most things. However, i don’t have a full range of shop tools and there are several jobs that are beyond my compass. Things tend to break at key moments; invariably the day before a race. Strada Cycles have regularly answered my last minute prayers and made a quick repair, despite their mega-busy schedule. This is because I have a good relationship with the shop, but also because they always want to do what they can to help.
3. The bike shop is like the record shop. The record shop has been ravaged and all but destroyed by the incessant march of technology and the preference for the invisible download over the physical object. It’s hard to quantify, but if you’ve spent a misspent youth in Reckless Records, or Sister Ray, or Binary Star, then you can recapture some of those hazy, esoteric and highly specialist days spent talking about weird things and occasionally buying something by heading to your local bike shop. It’s run by people who love bikes. They like talking about bikes.
4. It’s an important part of the local community and acts a bulwark against globalisation, both generally and in the bike trade. It’s a part of the diversity of the high street. If you’d rather have an enormotrekgiant concept store then carry on. I prefer a bit of light and shade.
Aside from these 4 points, there are a host of other reasons why you should visit your LBS and Strada Cycles. I popped in today to get some road food. This is the weird synthetic gel stuff that can help in a race as long as you don’t mistime the caffeine gel and end up gurning and gibbering to anyone nearby for an hour afterwards about the amazingness of your 8th place in the local fish and chipper. Whilst deciding what to get i noticed this spangly item:
Strada Cycles have a courtesy bike fleet. They issue these to the disintransported citizens of the people’s republic of Bedminster in their hour of need. This is brilliant. The shop is run by Mike and Teresa, and ably assisted by Matt, Jez and Ian. There are others involved, but these are the core operatives in project Strada.
Jez has been struggling to get out on the bike lately. He has big plans to ride an epic 58 mile sportive in a couple of months time and is about to embark on some altitude training. His motivation has slipped but it’s only a matter of time before he’s back chewing stem and laying waste to Strava KOMs up and down the Mendips. Jez is a fan of Slash’s Snakepit, whatever that might be. Jez sometimes daydreams about opening an Emmelle Concept Store to capitalise on the current bike boom. If Emmelle are tied to a pro-tour team then he’ll probably plump for Townsend. Jez is a legend amongst the Bristol and Bath cycling fraternity.
Mike is riding a 25 mile time trial in 2 weeks time. He’s working to an even closer deadline than Jez. It will be the springboard for a calculated assault on a number of fast courses up and down the district. Mike can fix anything at the drop of a cycling cap and builds fantastic wheels. Mike is Strada Cycles.
Matt lives out the back in a small annexe. They send him things to fix and slide cake and coffee under the metal door when he’s fulfilled his quota of wheelbuilds for the week. Matt’s mechanical skills are beyond compare. He is a magician with a torque spanner and a master wheelbuilder. Matt is planning to race this season, he is chasing a 19 minute 10.
The final member of the rogue’s gallery is the mighty Ian. I have been led to believe he rides a titanium bicycle. He may even get an entirely separate profile at a later date such is his standing. He is a softly-spoken giant amongst men.
And that’s it really. Everyone needs a friendly local bike shop and I’m lucky that mine is Strada. It is the best local bike shop I have ever frequented, and I’ve been to a few. They are friendly and welcoming, they fix your bike properly and they will sell you the right bike.