Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tallulah Visits the Yellow Jersey


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...."

We join Mr. M, who is lost in silent contemplation of some priceless Italian art:


(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.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

35 comments:

  1. And the very best part is Mr. M communing with the heavenly frames... and the choir kicking in for good measure. Although it would be so hard to top Tallulah trying her best to reach the pedals...

    What an awesome post!

    Totally worthy of a jersey all its own!

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    1. Thanks Deb - we do love this store. Almost all bike stores are fun, but this one is truly special. :)

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  2. Tallulah certainly gets around, doesn't she? Perhaps she should consider a career in journalism. She's certainly put a smile on my face which I'm not entirely pleased about because, now in my mid-forties, I have very clearly etched laughline wrinkles!

    Stephanie

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    1. But those are the best wrinkles to have, don't you think?

      Mid-forties - is that what the French mean when they say a woman is "of a certain age"? :)

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  3. What a fun day for the three of you. I haven't ridden a bike in years. It would be suicide to ride down the highway and it's a long drive to get to good riding places. No paved roads here, and I am way too old for mountain biking. I do clearly remember the joy of riding in my childhood.

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    1. I love riding the rural roads here (paved that is) - but I don't think I could ride in SoCal like I used to. Too much traffic!

      :)

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  4. I am sure you feel the same way when you are in a yarn store, totally happy.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. Oh yes - that's a very good comparison. When I go to a bike shop I tend to notice textures and colours, but Mr. M sees beyond that to the construction and geometry of the frames - a different kind of beauty. And in a yarn shop he might notice only the colour of a yarn while I would be getting to grips with the fiber content. :)

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  5. Ciao,
    Cool post! Hopefully, I will get to meet the pedaling turtle sometime. Perhaps 'M' could piece together some blocks allowing Tallulah to reach the pedals. Yellow Jersey looks like the classic bike shop that pops into my mind when reminiscing my youth. They're a dying breed. By the way, did Mr. M stealthily exit through the back with one of those Colnago framesets? You used Tallulah to divert attention, didn't ya? See how ya are!

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    1. Thanks, Lizard! You will certainly meet Tallulah in June. (She's riding along on Bike MS you know.)

      Mr. M did not sneak a Colnago out the door, but he did say that he might have been tempted if there were a Pinarello or a Gios up there....

      :)

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  6. wow! What a visit! I've never seen such bike shop, though here in India there are many bikes as you know. But they are sold at some markets and variety is not great at all.
    Talullah definitely enjoyed your trip and may be she will get her little bike some time later. I guess it will not take much space in your house then :)
    It is very good that you do bike trips, I wish I could to, but I don't even know how to ride a bike.
    Have a nice day!
    Anna

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    1. Yes, if Tallulah gets a bike it will be a tiny one! :)

      Thanks Anna.

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  7. OH WOW!!! That place should be declared a "Historical Landmark"!!!! Really. It is super.

    Looks the way stores, USED to look! Back in the day! It's a bit of HISTORY!

    Oh those old tin ceilings!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh be still my heart!

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    1. It is a bit of history - the ceilings are battered but oh so stylish. :)

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  8. My OH owns a bike shop and none of the staff are on commission. It isn't in such a pretty building though.

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    1. I don't know that this one was on commission - but why else would he try so hard to sell me something I didn't need? (From which you will infer that we did actually experience this in one of the other Madison bike stores....)

      This building could be very very lovely if restored ... as it is, there's a battered beauty about it which is very appealing.

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  9. I smiled the entire time while reading your post - just loved hearing all about this place. I'm not a bike rider but do love a hardware store with the creaky floors, homemade signs and attentive (non-comm) sales people plus EVERYTHING you might need! Good to know of places that still have the customer service mind-set. Mrs. M should get to work on a fancy hand-made bike basket for you-know-who?! I think Ms. T Turtle will want to see all of colorful Colo from a handlebar basket rather than a pocket!!

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    1. That is exactly what Yellow Jersey reminds me of too - an old-fashioned hardware store. We used to visit one in Santa Ana, California, called Clark Dye Hardware - they sold everything and then some. I got my Rowenta iron there 20+ years ago, and am still using it.

      I have been pondering some way to carry Tallulah on my handlebars....

      :)

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    2. How about a fishing creel style basket with a lid that secures when necessary - don't want her popping out accidentally or getting sunburned!

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  10. What an interesting and funny post! The Yellow Jersey has lots of atmosphere! The stamped tin ceiling was beautiful. Have fun riding your bike!

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    1. Thanks Fundy! (I need to find out if you have another name.) :)

      I will have LOTS of fun riding my bike when the weather warms up a bit....

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  11. I really must agree with you here. independent old style shops are so much nicer to visit. i hate the big multinationals. They are so cold and unfriendly.
    Rosie

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    1. It helps to have a sympathetic owner, I think, who works in the store himself. :)

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  12. Ack Hum (Clearing of throat) I left you a little something in your e-mail box about this delightful post.

    I love it when Tallulah gets out and about. :)

    Blessings always

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    1. Thanks so much Vicki - it was great! :)

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  13. That Tallulah is a dare devil, first biking and now flying on a glider. Fun post. I love old stores with lots of character and good service. Both are rare these days.

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    1. Thanks Beth - and yes, I'm going to have to keep an eye on Tallulah. :)

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  14. I felt like I was right with you. I do think Tallulah was headed for the Wet Ride bottle, don't you? It was a good color match for her.

    Seeing her on the glider was too cute!

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    1. Yes, she really liked that purple lubricant. :)

      (I had to prop her up with a hidden wedge of paper so she could balance on that glider.)

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  15. What an incredible shop ... I'm sure I'd also choose it above it's flashier neighbours.

    Gosh, those gliders brought back memories, my boys loved them when they were small. Hope Tallulah's not flying too high on hers ... she might not want to come back down ;)

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    1. She mostly stays on the ground ... or the desk. (Something about her weight preventing the necessary lift.)

      When I was small the gliders were balsa wood - I like these foam ones as they seem less inclined to shatter.

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  16. Looks like you all had a great time in the Yellow Jersey. Shame Tallulah couldn't find anything suitable. You write an entertaining post! Thank you for your regular comments, I've been a bit slack lately! keep up the riding!

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    1. Thanks Paul - someday Tallulah will find a bike that fits her. Considering her build, it might have to be a recumbent.... :)

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  17. By the way I gave you an award on my blog :-) - http://seasonsfullcircle.blogspot.co.nz/2013/04/liebster-award.html

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