Johan the Gazelle mechanic

I wish I was this guy.

He’s in a clean, open shop that looks very well organized. And that shop coat? I needs it. It has racing stripes!

He cares about his job, you can tell by how tidy his station is. He cares about the shop too I figure – and the shop cares about him. I’ll bet there’s a great cafe across the street where they know all the mechanics by name. The coffee and biscotti are awesome. If the Dutch do biscotti that is.

He’s probably got some Dutch sports talk radio on in the background – just loud enough to hear, but not loud enough to annoy. They’re discussing the latest cycle racing gossip, which he says he doesn’t care about, but he follows avidly.

I think his name is Johan. He’s been a mechanic for probably 40 years. He’s had a nice life as a mechanic, since in the Netherlands, bikes aren’t considered to be toys. He keeps people moving, and that’s worth something.

He’s not rushed. He takes a little longer maybe than the younger mechanics, but whatever he does, it’s 100% when he’s done. This very nice Gazelle (a Dutch brand btw) cyclocross bike will be ready to race as soon as he takes it out of the stand. It’ll just take a few more minutes, why not go get a coffee?

It just looks like a terrific environment. I’d like for my shop to be like this, but I’ve got a ways to go. Step one is that coat…

I figured this picture for the mid-70’s at first, but closer inspection shows aero brake hoods, and those came along in the mid to late 80’s. Maybe Johan’s style is mid-70’s then. But that’s OK, because Johan is getting it done.

You can relax if this is your Gazelle he’s building, because it’s going to be great, no matter you use it for.

26er Status Report Part Two

In part one of my 26er status report, I picked five random bike companies and looked at their current lineups to see if they still made a decent bike with 26″ wheels.

I only found one company making 26″ wheel bike that wasn’t a DH bike or dirt jumper.  And it was a 26+ bike – sort of a fat bike, but not quite – which is a pretty specialized type of bike. There were no bikes with 26 x 2.0″ tires on them for general trail riding.

2001 Schwinn Homegrown Comp

But, we’re not done yet. You may not be able to buy a new 26″ bike, but can you instead upgrade your current 26″ bike? Just about every mountain biker wants to upgrade, so what can we buy to trick out our Schwinn Homegrown hardtail?

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Rocky Mountain Hammer

In The Simpsons’ 6th season, a new student arrives in Lisa’s class. Lisa is head and shoulders above her classmates – head, shoulders, arms, waist, and legs above Ralph Wiggum – but Allison (voiced by Winona Ryder) proves to be as smart, if not smarter than Lisa. And she’s younger too, having skipped a grade.

Lisa Simpson

At one point, Lisa accepts her new fate as second best, and imagines herself in The Second Best Band in America with Art Garfunkel, Jim Messina, and John Oates, performing their #2 Hit “Born to Runner Up.”

Which brings us to the perennial second steel bike in Rocky’s lineup, the Rocky Mountain Hammer. It wasn’t always second in the lineup – it was sometimes lower – but it was always behind the Blizzard. But this certainly doesn’t make it any less of a bike.

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underachieving since 1996