I love bikes. Riding them, fixing them talking about them; all of it. In my thirties though, I got away from cycling. Then, in 2008, we moved to the Raleigh/Wake Forest area and some where between the 12 months of good weather and feeling the need for more exercise; the velophille in me was reawakened.
I grew up In the 70s. That’s when kids rode their bikes all day and well into most nights. It’s before bikes were even much of a sport in America -but every kid had one. We’d roll our schwinn stingrays around the suburbs wearing Starkie shoes and bell bottom jeans and we’d set boards across three bricks to see how much air we could catch on the jumps. On a bike, is simply where life happened for us. So I love them. But I didn’t start working on bikes until a few years ago.
I was in graduate school at the time, studying to be an Army Chaplain and the tinkering was a respite from studies. I would take brakes from schoolwork and tune up or overhaul bike projects in our garage. Then, the neighbors began bringing me their own tattered bikes and then their family’s and then their friends’ bikes.
Kids started to hang out around my garage and as if I would teach them how to work on their bicycles. Some would ask if I had business cards with my store hours so they could bring their parents by to go shopping. I had to explain that I did not have a business (let alone business cards) and I didn’t even have a bike shop. It was just my personal garage where I came to work on something that I loved doing. People kept coming anyway and a little at a time, we began to sell refurbished bicycles from our garage. But it’s not what I set out to do.
Quite unintentionally, I became a professional bicycle mechanic. One of the local bike shops saw that I was buying a lot of repair parts and they asked me to come work for them. So I did. I thought, ‘What’s the harm? It’ll give me something to do while I am waiting to go into the Army.’ The job was part time at first (I was still finishing up school). Then, when the troops began coming home, the Army decided that they did not need so many chaplains anymore. So they thanked me for my trouble and we began looking toward other pursuits. Around this time, the bike shop where I was working part time, asked me to manage their service shop full time and I said I would.
And it was a lot of fun for around six months. That’s about how long it took me to began looking for something more challenging where I could become more involved in the cycling community and do things on my own terms.
Then, around a year later, a space became available right at the base of the Falls Lake Dam. It was exactly at the zero mile marker for the Neuse River Trail. It was, I concluded, the perfect location for a bike shop. The greenway literally brought cyclists to our front door. For a guy who likes fixing bikes, riding bikes and even just talking bikes; it seemed like an obvious match. So we emptied the contents of my home shop into the new space and got to work. We painted and trimmed and built until things began to look like a real bike shop and on Novenber 1, 2013; The Bike Guy was officially open for business.
People often ask me where the Bike Guy name came from. And I tell them, it comes from those years when I was working in my garage. Neighbors and sometimes total strangers would come by and ask, “Hey, aren’t you the bike guy?” After hearing people refer to me that way so many times, the name kind of stuck. So, that’s the name on the door. But it all started in our home garage and quite unintentionally.
So now we are set up at the base of Falls Dam and I get to work on bikes all day on my own terms. Bike shops that push pressured sales and tout elitist attitudes are a dime a dozen. What Wake Forest and North Raleigh needed was a bike shop without the attitude. That is who we strive to be. A bike shop for anyone; or everyone. We will never make anyone feel like they or their bike are not worth our time. In fact our number one rule is: Ride What You Got. Whether it is new or old, or expensive or cheap or ugly or not so ugly; ride it.
A lot of our customers are competitive athletes. But those who do not race should feel equally welcome. Some of our customers are extremely fit but many are not. We serve both with equal interest. We know that although some cyclists are working on their next Ironman, other folks are just trying to get off the couch. We appreciate both but feel that the later is more important. Likewise, kids are welcome here. A bike shop for everyone.
We are also the only oasis on the Neuse River Trail and that makes our shop the best place on the greenway to begin and end a ride. It’s a good place for people to fuel up and hydrate. We also air up countless tires and do complimentary inspections for cyclists as they get ready for their ride. Tires a little low? Swing by before you take off. Chain need oil? Come see us and well get you set up while your friends are still unloading their bikes. We are here to get you riding. Looking forward, we hope to host group rides soon, get involved in more events and increase our services to the cyclists in our area.
All things considered, we are glad to have a bike shop right in the center of where Wake Forest’s and Raleigh’s cycling culture is developing. And we look forward to growing with our community.
See you on the trail!