3.19.2007

chain reaction in shaw

stopped by the chain reaction yard sale
there seemed to be a few diamonds in the rough
there were also a number of parts bins that are good to know about for those frankenbike occassions
well... the boys at big wheel have always been good to me for an old brake lever or random washer
as I am part of the big wheel family

years ago I did my bike shop time for mike sendar at big wheel bikes
big wheel has some great bicycle culture heritage in this town
that shop is as mom and pop as it gets
which is not entirely bad
especially for the employee

sure sendar can be abusive at times
but he gives his workers some freedom
well... he says it is his way or the highway
but the workers are still able to bring their personality to the store
tj morton was like a statue in the bethesda store
and well... there were people coming by to see it
then bennet who is back in old town is not just a part of that shop but is a part of old town
he in touch with the underbelly of old town
the cast of characters that float through to say hello, get a bike worked on, or get out of the cold are all part of bennet's big wheel family

this rant was not to give some roster of the big wheel managers past or present
nor is this an effort to understand the mind of mike sendar
this is more a little memory of my time in one of mike's bike shops on capital hill
big wheel bikes on 7th street at eastern market

that place had a bit of a chain reaction feel to it
at times it seemed more like a community bike shop than a business
people came in and out
but so few were looking to buy bikes or pay for the service
in the summer the kids paraded through on their way to the neighborhood pool
there were some kids that were regulars
there were some kids who were pretty good kids
who would stop by the shop on days when they were suspended or cutting class as well
we tried to get these kids to work
sometimes they worked because it was work or leave
there were times when it was in exchange for a bike
but usually it was in trade for a dominos pizza
as we had a pretty good relationship with a few of the dominos guys
they brought their delivery bikes in for tune ups
we got free pizza
the barter system

there were a few mormons who would come by
this one set of mormon missionaries would come by and clean up around the shop
had them weeding and sweeping
in exchange they could use the stands and get some used parts
they were pretty cool
okay... they were total goobers
but that had nothing to do with them being mormons

then in a parallel situation there was one stellar mechanic
this guy was a bit of a well... for a lack of better words... a jesus freak
but that is no set of harsh words as I would call my mother a jesus freak
well, this jesus freak would work under the same relationship
but he was a hammer
he was a machine
I worked him into the system
I grew dependent upon him...
sort of saved the demanding repairs for him
tired to get him to come in regular on mondays
the day after the repairs came in
as sendar had me there alone for all seasons but summer
which is not just understaffed
but unsafe
the demands were high
and well... I felt I delivered beyond the demands

under the circumstances it was all pretty good
it was a bit of a club house
had an on again off again messenger shawn brown work with me
we had a good club house atmosphere
shawn was a good mechanic and a blast to hang out with
there was a kid justin from university of maryland
and a rower kid from georgetown university
but usually it was just one person
a serious skeleton crew
that almost ended up a skeleton crew on a few occassions

the guy before me got bludgened in the head with one of the shops hammers
then the guy after me got help up three times in three months... once attacked with mace as three men took bikes

but the kids were cool
well... sometimes cool
it was a relationship between people
there were always seats and handlebars that needed to be tightened
and well... I did not mind trying to teach the kids that the vise grips have no buisness anywhere around the bike

flat repaired seemed like a skill that every kid with a bicycle should be able to handle
sure they did not get that the use of a cut up inner tube and crazy glue was more expensive than a patch kit
but they understood the repair and saved the fifteen bucks that a shop charges for parts and labor on a tube replacement

there were relationships that went sour
kids always wanted the bike before the full hours were completed
then got the bike early
only to never return to finish the hours
hopefully learning a lesson about life
the term gain of the bike lost them the bike shop to hang out in
as well as a place to get that bike repaired escentially for free

some kids never got bikes
but always came around
it was not fair who got the bikes
maybe the bike fit
maybe the timing was right
a bike dropped off
or a dusty old repair that was never to be picked up
and most likely not good enough to be sold

it was cool being part of the big wheel family
as disfunctional as that family may be
there are still some cool people associated with that shop
some cool people have passed through those many shops
and well
sendar is sendar
and there is no one else like him
be that good or be that bad
take sendar as who he is

dare I say that chain reaction could use a visit from sendar
he knows how to make a sparse shop look the best it can
and he definitely knows how to turn a profit
there is no one who knows how to put nothing in and get everything out

I wonder what happened to those kids who used to roll through the bike shop
wonder what path life took them down



1 comment:

gwadzilla said...

missed a line in photo shop

oh well

I am sure I misspelled something