Clydesdale Hall of Fame

This is Joe. If you live in town you probably know him. He owns my bike shop. He just barely squeaks over the wire as a Clydesdale, but I’m sure the council will approve him. You can say what you want about other bike shops in town, and all their cool bikes in stock and whatnot, but me? I stick with Joe, and of course his ace mechanic, Shins, and that other guy, the tall crazy one who gets the sandwiches.

Joe is a really decent guy, and that’s why God gave him a little bike shop on Lake Ella, where you can enjoy a rare breeze and watch the world drift by, carefree and lazy.

Joe works on the most awful hunks of crap ever to be churned off a Chinese assembly line, not because he likes it, but because he understands that people use their bikes for transportation. Not everybody is stressing over how they can possibly ride this weekend without getting that NEW FUCKIN’ BOTTOM BRACKET INSTALLED, OH DEAR GOD WHERE IS IT!!!

No, some people, mostly poor people, the mentally impaired, and chronic DUI-heads need their Roadmasters to master the road, their Free Spirits to roll free, and their Huffies to huff. While he may swear and groan like he’s losing his mind, he will get out his hammer, his vice grips, his length of pipe and make those pieces of shit work, again and again.

Conducting an actual transaction is very much like buying a goat in Bosnia. You may have to join in for a coffee and a cigarette before he is prepared to listen to your problem or accept your money. He may get your cranks pulled then become distracted by another customer for 45 minutes or a couple days. If you can’t handle that, then you probably ought to mosey on over to one of the other shops. We won’t miss you, no hard feelings.

There are people in this town, misfits of one kind or another, who visit Joe like he’s long lost family. They are often the type who are driven away from other businesses either outright, or through cool detachment. Sometimes it drives Joe crazy, other times he seems glad to see them, but he is never cruel or impatient with the Weird Harolds. They scream his name like a rock star. JOOOOoooooooeeeee!

He has been in business so long the shiny veneer has worn off much of the retail experience. You may have to project your voice over a blaring 20 minutes of “Alice’s Restaurant” or Sepulchura, or Crosby Stills Nash and Young, who knows. Profanity may occasionally slip out, but not the mean-spirited kind. “You need a stem?We got a fuckin’ stem for ya’.” Off it comes from someone else’s bike. Who knows how that works. It is all part of the Byzantine system in Joe’s head.

All I know is, Joe’s Bike Shop is one of those places that make Tallahassee a real class act.

So congratulations Joe, and don’t be pissed I put your picture on the internet.

I could have used that other one.


7 Responses to Clydesdale Hall of Fame

  1. Juancho, that’s a hell of a tribute, and I’m sure you’d say all the same things even if you weren’t in the market for some new bling. Good to do business with a regular guy — someone who sells good bikes and deigns to fix the crappy ones. It’s the kind of place frequented by people who give you a “Howdy” on the trail.
    And let’s give it up for Shins, who keeps me rolling and answers my questions without making me feel stupid. At least I think that’s Shins — hard to tell in this pseudonymous fantasy world. In fact, Joe may be the first noncelebrity to see his real name in the Big Ring.

  2. Non-celebrity? Joe? I think not!
    One thing we will always have over the other shops is, “My mechanic can out-wheelie your mechanic”.

  3. Joe is friendly. Whenever the Professor and I saw him at the Black Dog he always proferred to us a big “Howdy”. I don’t think I ever spent a nickel in his shop but if I needed something bike related I wouldn’t hesitate to utilize his services.

  4. What else to add? Joe was the first bike shop I entered in Tallahassee in ‘89 w/ a creaking Trek Antelope with bent rims… he tuned it up and I was on my way to a new lifestyle. Over the many years with Joe I learned how to work on my own bike, how to barter labor for sandwiches and sweets. How the rule of “if you can find a working rear derailleur in that box of stuff over there you can have it” or “want this jersey from Kona? Take it, its yours.” says more about his generosity and good nature than these sentences could. He let me run many open tabs on parts when I was strapped for cash, “thanks again Joe!!” In fact he kept many of us food industry boys rolling w/ that system all through the 90’s. Many afternoons I’d go hang with Joe on the pretence of working on my bike – but it was really an excuse to watch and learn how to be cool in a very unaware way. Joes the real deal. An afternoon in the shop working on your ride and then relaxing on the porch of Joes with your friends really sums up the finer things about living in Tallahassee.

    Its true, the shop draws a certain mentality of rider – and a good rule of thumb is if you meet a rider at Joes and they have developed a good report with Joe and his hired guns , then you can pretty much bet that there worth getting to know and ride with.

    I salute and second the nomination!

  5. Sometimes I’m tempted to believe it’s impossible NOT to be greedy in the world of business, that these days a business owner HAS to go big or go profit-first or go home. Joe proves that wrong.

    Every cool thing about Joe’s stems from his ability to be happy doing his thing in his own way and taking what comes back as a fair enough deal for him.

  6. (Being chronically late, I just saw this post.) In 2005, I was still riding the Jamis I bought from Joe back in 1993 (wedding present; the ex had a “hers” version, but we’ll just forget about that). I tried using it on trails, but since I was never much of a trail rider it turned out to be my get-around-town ride, which was just fine with me. John, you might remember it from our Bozeman days.

    Baby gave up the ghost in 2011. I wish I’d kept the Joe’s Bike Shop sticker that was still proudly affixed.