Sunday, July 28, 2013

"If Not, We Will Build It"

“What kind of bike do you have?” was the question posed to me.

“I don’t have one,” I answered.
“Are you looking to buy one?” he continued.

“No. I’m just enjoying the sights,” was my response.
My answers were puzzling to the questioner. After all, here we were in Lafayette’s (LA) Recycled Cycles, and, understandably, he assumed that I, like him, was here on bicycle business.

And on this weekday morning, there were several people who were there not just to take photos and block progress through the narrow spaces among new, used, and ready-for-repairs bicycles.
One customer wanted to have air pumped in his bike tire, and as William Atkinson, the owner, began pumping, it was easy to understand why the customer did not do this at home. As the tire became inflated, it made creaking sounds, and William was reluctant to try to inflate this aging tire any further.
Between answering phone calls, William informed another customer that his bike was on the schedule for repairs that afternoon and would be ready late in the day.
Another customer left with her three-wheeler repaired to her satisfaction.

One of William’s assistants entered during the course of these interactions and began organizing the displays of bikes on the sidewalk.
And all this was taking place in the first fifteen minutes that the shop was open.

William did not have time to chat about the number of cyclists in Lafayette or the attraction of biking in general, but he did answer one question about the ages of the bikes in the window.

“The one on the right (below) is post-War, and
the one on the left (below) is 1936,” he answered quickly, his voice growing less audible as he headed to the back of the shop to begin repairing other bicycles.
I took a few last photos and then left.

This was not a planned visit. The display window had caught my eye on the way to breakfast, so I was able to indulge my curiosity after breakfast.
I was not aware the shop’s repertoire until reading the team’s web page:
“Recycled Cycles of Acadiana is Lafayette's premiere bike shop! We specialize in new, used, and custom bikes as well as full restoration work. We have the bike of your dreams. If not, we will build it!
“Just need some repairs? Our mechanics can help you with any bicycle issues you may have. We do repair on all bicycle types and sizes. From top-end to klunkers, no matter what you broke we can fix it! We also offer our work racks to anyone when not in use, so you can come in and Do It Yourself.

“Into old antique bikes? We have one of the nicest bicycle museums in the south. Come in and have a look around.”
Unfortunately, I was not able to meet Zach, who is there mostly on Saturdays. From his bio on the web page, he sounded like an interesting fellow:
“Rode a 2-wheel bike at 2 years old! …Zach knows what's up when it comes to picking out that perfect bike! He can run the 40 in 2 seconds flat! Always trying to save people from burning buildings. Best bike builder of the century! (and maybe next)” (
I left with thoughts of returning on a Saturday and with memories of the many bicycle rides in the countryside of northern Illinois.

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