Category Archives: Shops

A Visit to Bikes@Vienna on the Leesburg Loop

Over the weekend Felkerino and I meandered from home to do what we call the “Leesburg Loop,” a 90-ish mile ride that starts in D.C., crosses the river into Virginia and takes the Custis and W&OD Trails to Leesburg, winds around to White’s Ferry for a quick ferry ride across the Potomac into Maryland, continues on roads near Poolesville, and returns to D.C. via Potomac, Maryland and MacArthur Boulevard.

Bikes@Vienna

Our ride was filled with various stops, including a first-time visit to Bikes@Vienna. This shop is located two blocks off the W&OD Trail in Vienna, Virginia, and is a treasure trove of interesting bicycles.

Brompton test ride

Brompton test ride

I had heard that Bikes@Vienna specialized in recumbent bikes, but they have a broad range of inventory that also includes upright steeds from Breezer, recumbent trikes, and several folding bikes from Tern as well as Brompton. I wanted to test ride everything.

Recumbents!

Recumbents!

Tim, the owner of Bikes@Vienna, was there. We actually know of each other via the internet (Tim writes a blog called Spokes of a Wheel, which I regularly read) but we had never met in person.

Bikes@Vienna

Felkerino and I had an excellent time talking bikes with Tim, discussing various topics such as the evolution of Tern from Dahon and the explosion in the presence of Bromptons as well as Brompton dealers in the U.S.

Tim talks recumbent tandem trike at Bikes@Vienna

Tim talks recumbent tandem trike at Bikes@Vienna

Tim is extremely knowledgeable about bikes and his manner is open and unassuming. He’s also a good listener. Some shop owners can be aloof, condescending, or try to know-it-all a person to death so talking with someone who is not that way in a shop is a real pleasure.

Felkerino on the Brompton

Felkerino on the Brompton

Both Felkerino and I took one of the Bromptons for a test ride while we were there. Felkerino in particular was pretty smitten.

The trike zone at Bikes@Vienna

The trike zone at Bikes@Vienna

I can’t believe I had not stepped into Bikes@Vienna until this last Saturday. Maybe that’s a good thing. I’ve probably saved myself a lot of money.

Many thanks to Tim for showing us around his shop. Felkerino and I will definitely be back to Bikes@Vienna. Just to window shop, though. Yeah. That’s it. Only to window shop.

The Old Bike Shop Recyclery

The past weekend, Felkerino and I made a field trip out to Arlington, Virginia, and peeked our heads into the new bike shop known as The Old Bike Shop.

We stopped by late in the day but Larry, the owner, was more than willing to stay after hours and chat with us about his recyclery.

The Old Bike Shop

The Old Bike Shop had its start at the Arlington County Farmers’ and Flea Market and now is a brick and mortar business. As the term recyclery suggests, the shop does not sell brand new bikes. Rather, it sells previously owned bikes that have been fixed up (depending on their condition) and made road ready.

Larry’s enthusiasm for bikes is evident, and his mission is clear. He aims to sell affordable, reliable, and attractive used bikes to people who want a bike for transportation.

Larry talks bikes

Larry talks bikes

There were a variety of mountain bikes, touring steeds, and a few mixtes on the shop floor. His affection for steel, lugs, and Japanese frames shows in the shop’s selection.

Lugged steel overload

Lugged steel overload

One of Larry’s Bianchi touring frames was calling my name. Beautiful color scheme! Unique and classy! Fully built! My size! $500! However, I could not justify the purchase of another touring bike and had to leave it behind for some other lucky purchaser.

Hello, beautiful Bianchi tourer

Hello, beautiful Bianchi tourer

The shop itself is also attractive, with hardwood floors and cool high ceilings. Plenty of space for bikes.

Bridgestone (55 cm)

Bridgestone (55 cm)

Raleigh

Raleigh

Larry has used some of the space to display bikes from his personal collection. If you ever want to see a chrome Paramount or a pretty old Alpine touring frame, among others, go ye to The Old Bike Shop!

Schwinn tourer

Schwinn tourer

Paramount

Paramount

In the bike repair zone, Larry was working on an old track bike. I don’t recall the bike’s vintage or what he planned to do with it, but I was fascinated by the fork, the aesthetic of the crank, and the old wooden wheels.

Old track frame

I’ll be back to The Old Bike Shop. Larry’s selection of bikes is ever-changing and his knowledge about bikes is impressive. Best of all, he has a way of making you feel like riding a bike is the greatest pursuit in the world.

Inside, looking out The Old Bike Shop

The Old Bike Shop
2647 North Pershing Drive
Arlington, Virginia

Cupcake Ramblin’ with Sol and BicycleSPACE

The Cupcake Ramble crew

BicycleSPACE, one of D.C.’s local bike shops, has done an excellent job of building community through their group rides. Felkerino and I have attended a few of their evening social rides in the past and, while they were literally not my speed in terms of the pace with which they meandered through town, they were a fun way to meet other local bike riders and D.C. residents.

With our “big ride” of the summer complete, Felkerino and I decided that this last Saturday would be perfect to check out one of BicycleSPACE’s weekend rides. We rolled over to the shop to join the Cupcake Ramble, which is billed as a ride between 20 and 25 miles.

This past weekend was a bit on the dreary side so we made for a rather small Cupcake Ramble crew. Five people participated: Erik, Michael, Felkerino, and the ride leader, Sol. Our ride took us around through Arlington, up a fierce little hill Sol found especially for us, and back into the city– a total loop of about 20 miles.

Off on the Cupcake Ramble. Sol leads the way.

The sun never shone and the rain fell in places. Even so, it was a good day to ride. Rainy gray days always seem to quiet the roads on weekends which made for a pleasant riding once we exited D.C.’s city center.

Erik, founder of BicycleSPACE, and Felkerino

While the route was not anything epic, the Cupcake Ramble offers something very special to those who do it.

Sol, who I mentioned is the ride leader, is also a professional pastry chef and always brings a treat to share with the group. For our ride he had prepared a lovely coffee cake that he drizzled with his locally produced honey. And when I say local, I mean his back yard.

At about the midway point of our loop, our group paused to set up shop at a covered picnic table and break bread (i.e., coffee cake) together. We sat, chatted, talked bike rides, checked out each other’s bikes, listened to a few raindrops fall, and chewed on coffee cake.

Time out for coffee cake and honey on the Cupcake Ramble

How many rides have I been on where somebody made me coffee cake? One!

The Cupcake Ramble ended up being a fun way to spend a Saturday. Thanks so much to Sol for leading the ride and treating us to the delightful nosh. Also, thanks to BicycleSPACE for coordinating, and for making rides like these happen in our area.

Want to see more pics of the Cupcake Ramble? See the full set here.

Bikes to Like: Steve H.’s Rivendell, A. Homer Hilsen

It’s been a while, but today’s post features to another great Bikes to Like with Steve H.!

I met Steve on last year’s D.C. Randonneurs Flatbread 200K, and was quite taken with his bike, as well as its setup. I asked him if he would be part of Bikes to Like and, lucky for me, he agreed. Thanks, Steve! Please read on to get an inside look at Steve’s beautiful Rivendell.

1. What kind of bike do you have?

I have a Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen.

2. Why a Rivendell?

I have been a fan of Grant Petersen’s ideas about bike design for a long time – since his days with Bridgestone USA. I missed out on purchasing the Bridgestone of my dreams and swore that if a similar chance ever came my way again, I wouldn’t let it slip through my fingers.

When I saw the Homer Hilsen, I knew the time had come. Riding it has confirmed my admiration of Rivendell’s bikes.

Steve and the Rivendell on the D.C. Randonneurs Flatbread 200K

3. Where do you ride it?

Mostly around southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland. This summer I hope to take it to Washington state to participate in RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day) a ride I last did in 1990.

4. What do you like about your bike?

I like the way it rides and the way it looks. My Hilsen has 650B wheels, which have vastly exceeded my expectations. Rivendell says the bike is designed for up to 40mm tires – I am running 42 mm in it now, with fenders, with no problems.

I love the comfort of the big tires and of the frame geometry overall. I am riding greater distances with less fatigue than on other bikes I’ve ridden. Also, I like that it was made here in the USA (by Waterford).

5. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?

Cushy.

Steve’s Rivendell

6. Fenders or no fenders?

Fenders. I prefer not to spray myself or the riders around me with road spittle, especially in Lancaster County, where it tends to be flavored with horse manure.

Having fenders on the bike helps to encourage the attitude that it’s never a bad time to ride.

7. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

I can’t think of a specific event that stands out, just a lot of time enjoying being outside. Once I saw a small bird land on the back of a hawk in flight. Maybe that counts?

8. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

I just call it Homer or “the orange bike.”

A last look at Steve’s Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen

9. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

I don’t know whether it counts as an accessory, but I guess I’d say the generator hub and headlight.

I really like having a light on my bike, ready to go at all times, that I don’t have to think about and I like riding at night.

10. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

Allons-y! (My bike is studying French.)

11. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

When I’m not riding this bike it hangs from the ceiling where I walk past it on my way in and out of my workshop.

Just looking at the lugwork on the head tube gives me a good feeling, many times a day, even on days I don’t get to ride.

Velocity Bicycle Coop: Schwinn Paramount or Rivendell custom, anyone?

Ringing the doorbell at the Velocity Bicycle Coop

Last night Felkerino and I went to visit the Velocity Bicycle Coop in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s been up and running since May of 2010, but yesterday was our first visit. We stopped by at a good time because a collector had just given some of his beautiful bikes to the coop. These included two Rivendell customs, three Schwinn Paramounts (one of which was chrome!), an Austro Daimler, and an older Serotta. It was retro-grouch heaven!

I spent the entire evening dreaming about which bike I would most like to add to my stable. Maybe the Austro Daimler?

Austro Daimler

Could it be one of the Rivendells?

My mother told me to choose the very best one...

This is not an optical illusion. $1200 Rivendell!

Or do I need the chrome Schwinn Paramount?

Chrome Paramount = Art Bike

Perhaps I should be more practical and adopt the blue Schwinn Paramount.

Blue Schwinn Paramount = Practical

But the red Schwinn Paramount is hot. The color? Stunning. And it has Phil Wood hubs!

Red Schwinn Paramount

Want to see more photos of our visit to Velocity Bicycle Coop? They are here.

Alas, I went home empty-handed. I don’t need a new bike. Plus, the Rivendells were too small for me. Grr. However, the Paramounts were just my size and I even test rode the chrome Schwinn Paramount. It was a cool feeling to be riding a vintage chrome Paramount! I longed for that bike, but forced myself to leave it behind. (Me + chrome Schwinn Paramount = True Love Always).

I hope that someone can give these amazing bikes a loving home, and the good care and feeding they need. Maybe I should go back on Saturday and just check on these beautiful machines to see how they’re doing? I’ll bring my checkbook, too, in case I need to stop at the grocery store on the way home. Yeah, that’s right. The grocery store. Want to go with me?

Field Trip: Harper’s Bike Shop. Knoxville, Tennessee

The final stop of the recent Tennessee bike tour work trip was Harper’s Bike Shop in Knoxville, Tennessee. This was a large shop just outside of the University of Tennessee campus, and has been around for 50 years. At least, that’s what I was told.

 

Mural at the Rear Entrance of Harper's

 

The shop carried a nice variety of bikes, but the bikes that most caught my eye were the staff’s bikes. Check out this SyCip. Isn’t it amazing?

 

Shawn's SyCip

 

 

SyCip Rear Rack

 

I love the custom rear rack. Shawn, the bike’s owner, said that he had added the wood panel to the top of the rack. I also love the way SyCip uses coins on the top of the seat stays and the fork. Shawn thought maybe this bike was a little overkill for an around-town bike, but I’m not sure if I’m able to make that judgment. If you’ve got a beautiful bike, ride it anywhere you want.

This shop’s inventory included a Lynskey titanium road bike as well. Apparently Shawn was freeing it from his personal stable. (Was this his previous “around-town” bike?) Check this out.

 

Lynskey Road Bike

 

I bet if I owned this Lynskey I would be able to do all my 200Ks in 6 hours or less. Ha ha!

Shawn mentioned that Lynskey uses helix technology on the seat stays, which is visible here.

 

Lynskey Helix Technology... and look at these brakes!

 

I’m not really sure what helix technology does (I’m sure it MUST make you faster, more vertically blah, more laterally something), but it does make for a nice aesthetic.

Finally, one of the other employees had a gorgeous green Waterford with what look like Honjo fenders and a great Sackville front bag. Delicious.

 

Waterford and Sackville

 

 

Waterford and Brooks

 

I have a few more pictures from my stop at Harper’s, and they are here.

Harper’s is definitely a cool place, and well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Knoxville. Just don’t even think of staying past closing time, though, or I’m pretty sure they will kick you out. They’ve got bike riding to do!

Field Trip: River City Bicycles, Chattanooga, TN

 

River City Bicycles Storefront

 

While my trip to Tennessee has ended, the memories of my bike shop tour work trip live on in my memories and on this blog.

River City Bicycles in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was my third bike shop destination. This is an inviting shop with a large retail space. I must confess that I did not survey the inventory as much as I should have because I was quite taken by the shop’s cat, Lily.

 

Ronald (the owner, Lily (bike shop cat), and Erin (friend)

 

I liked the bikes on display, too. It’s always fun to see a high wheeler.

 

Inside the Shop. High wheeler in the Background.

 

The owner of the shop, Ronald, was super-friendly and we spent some time talking and admiring his road bike. Ronald freely admitted his roadiness, saying that he likes being able to get in shorter rides and still have time to get home and do errands and other things. Hey, is he saying that touring cyclists are trying to avoid their responsibilities? Just kidding!

I’m not much of a roadie, but his bike was alright. And very clean! It’s shameful how little I know and appreciate carbon bikes; I didn’t even take a picture of his Scott. Sorry!

I did, however, get a couple of photos of the bike’s Ligero wheels, which had a nice look to them. Troy Watson, a wheel-builder who lives and works in Chattanooga, is the man behind Ligero. See how pretty they are?

 

Ligero Wheels

 

 

Looking at the Hub

 

Ronald was also keyed into the local scene. He showed us the work of a local artisan who is using recycled inner tubes to make bracelets, and he recommended a local coffee shop, Velo Coffee Roasters, with whom they trade wrenching for coffee. He also told us about one of the popular local spring century rides, the 3-State 3-Mountain Century. This ride goes over three mountains and passes through three states (just like riding in D.C. if you count the District as a state AND except for the mountains part).

If you are ever in Chattanooga and want to talk bikes or find out where to ride, I think Ronald would be a good contact. Also, if you want to see a fine-looking shop with a friendly and furry bike shop cat, River City Bicycles is the place.

I took a few additional photos of our visit, and you can find them here.

One Tennessee shop left to blog, and it’s in Knoxville. Phew! I have the worst time spelling Chatanooga Chattanooga correctly.

Field Trip: Suck Creek Cycle. Chattanooga, Tennessee

As I like to keep telling people, last week was mostly work on location in Tennessee. That said, I still eeked out time to poke my nose into some of the local bike shops. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Must. Make. Time. For bike shop!

Shop number 2 for the week was Suck Creek Cycle in Chattanooga. The shop’s motto is that it’s about “bikes and friendly advice.” Sounds like a perfect randonneur shop to me!

Suck Creek Cycle recently moved into a new space, and it is gorgeous. Plenty of room for bikes, pedestrian traffic, gear, and accessories.

Mike, owner of Suck Creek Cycle

Check out the wrenching zone. Isn’t it beautiful? It makes me want to sit down with a cup of coffee and get to work. And I detest working on my bike.

Repair zone/mechanic space.

In talking with Mike, the owner, he shared that mountain bikes were the bulk of his current business. Not surprising, given that Chattanooga is flanked by mountains. According to Wikipedia (yes, I’m citing Wikipedia, is that a problem?), the area “lies at the transition between the ridge and valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. The city is therefore surrounded by various mountains and ridges.”

Mountain bike frames on display.

This shop was my first exposure to Lynskey frames, which are titanium bikes crafted by David Lynskey, the founder of Litespeed. Lynskey’s shop is right there in Chattanooga. Had I known it was just up the road, I would have tried to stop there, too. Oh well, next time I’m in Chattanooga!

A few more photos of my visit are here. I loved stopping by Suck Creek Cycle. The space was beautiful, the bikes were cool, and the owner was kind and helpful. What more could a person want?

Field Trip: Tennessee Valley Bicycles. Knoxville, Tennessee

This past week I’ve been on location in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s been mostly work, but as soon as I had a break I asked the hotel clerk where I might find a local bike shop that leaned more toward the touring and utility cyclist.

The clerk helpfully pointed me in the direction of Tennesseey Valley Bicycles. I sprinted off, crossed my fingers that the shop wasn’t too far away, and hoped that the exertion to find it would be worth it.

The shop feels like it is located just off the beaten path in Knoxville, on the fringe of the Old City area. The building is pretty nondescript from the outside, although the subtle signage gives the place a nice aesthetic.

Tennessee Valley Bicycles

The hotel clerk was right. As I approached the shop, I saw that a group ride was just getting going (or ending, I couldn’t tell). When I walked inside, the first thing I noticed was that the bike mechanic was a WOMAN. Yes!

The Mechanic at Tennessee Valley Bicycles

Tennessee Valley Bicycles stocked a lot of Konas, several mountain bikes (which, I must admit, are pretty foreign to me) a few Salsas, and a couple of IROs.

Bicycles on Display at TVB

The shop carried some interesting accessories, too. They had some wicker baskets, basic rear racks, funky panniers, and some durable-looking (although dirt-prone-looking) linen bags for sale, and I was most taken with the Octopus wool cycling caps, which are handmade in Ohio. I said Ohio, not Iowa! (As an Iowan, I had to insert that.)

The Accessory Wall at TVB

I wasn’t able to linger at the shop as long as I would have liked, but it was fun to have the opportunity to run over after work, check out the stock, and get a feel for their space. If you are ever in Knoxville and have a little extra time, Tennessee Valley Bicycles is worth a visit.

50 States Ride, anyone? If so, I’ll see you there!