For some time now, I've been foolishly riding without a spare tire. (The one around my middle doesn't count.) This scanty tire situation was rendered critical by a vicious flat which occurred last Saturday, so on Sunday we set out for Madison to buy some bike tires.
Tallulah begged hard to come with us, as she imagined a bike shop must be a delightful place. (A very intelligent turtle.) So I put her in my pocket and away we drove down the snowy road (which didn't stay snowy for long - by the time we reached Madison, the sun was shining).
Our destination was the Yellow Jersey, an iconic bike shop located on eclectic State Street. Madison is full of bike shops, so why the Yellow Jersey? For one thing, they stock the kind of tires Iris needs - tubulars, also known as sew-ups. And they never try to sell us something other than what we want. (The polar opposite of some large, glitzy bike stores staffed by scornful young men working on commission. This may sound dreadfully peevish and middle-aged of me, but if I ask for sew-ups, I want sew-ups - not a lecture on the superiority of clinchers from someone who looks about 12.)
Yellow Jersey has a front door, but I don't think I've ever entered by it. Here's the door we use:
(State Street has no parking, so we park behind the store.)
Notice the ancient sign:
The owner obviously believes in using things up and wearing them out - a great way to keep the overhead low and the prices fair. I like the sound of a "People's Work Area" - it has a delightfully communal flavour, highly reminiscent of the 70s (when this store opened).
If you did enter by the front door, here's what you would see:
A glorious jumble of all things cycling. Bikes, of course - lots and lots of bikes - as well as clothing, tools, and accessories of every kind.
Tallulah and I like the colourful selection of lubricants...
|Can you spot the turtle?|
...the fun and funky T-shirts (yellow, of course)...
...and the tempting woolen jerseys hung with friendly warning signs (I can see why - I would like nothing better than to open up that package and feel the fabric):
The store has lovely old stamped tin ceilings...
...much-painted, and covered with ancient posters.
Tallulah decides to do a little bike-shopping. She tries one on for size, but finds (to her dismay) that she can't reach the handlebars:
She tries another...
...but can't reach the saddle. "Can't we buy it anyway?" she pleads. "I might grow into it." I explain to her that a) she is unlikely to grow any larger; b) we can't afford it; and c) we have too many bikes already (here I drop my voice to a whisper lest Mr. M should overhear this heresy).
Tallulah nods in sad comprehension and tries to make the best of it. "Oh well. I suppose that white handlebar tape would get awfully dirty...."
(Cue the heavenly choir....)
Dazed and slightly drunk with colour, we toy with the idea of new bottle cages for Iris. Mr. M thinks I should get lavender to match my handlebar tape, but Tallulah falls in love with the rose-pink:
(I'm tempted, but decide that my current bottle cages will do me for a while longer.)
Mr. M and the shop owner fall into abstruse bike-building talk - all about horizontal rear dropouts and lug brazed forks and suchlike mystical things - while Tallulah and I take a final look round.
My new tires, with some tire cement, new brake pads, and a replacement hose for our floor pump, are waiting on the counter. The shop owner adds two little gliders for free. "Because it's spring," he tells us. "Or at least it's supposed to be."
Thinking of Iris's upcoming trip to Colorado, I ask if they have any spare bike boxes. "Sure," the owner replies. He calls an assistant, who fetches one and offers carry it to the car for us. What a nice bunch of people. (And Iris has a free box to travel in! Hooray!)
Business and bike-talk equally done, we thank the friendly staff and leave.
A truly classic bike shop, and always a pleasure to visit.
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