Tuesday, May 5, 2015

End Of The Road For Racine Cyclery

Racine Cyclery, a family-owned bike shop since 1956, is selling off its remaining stock and soon will close forever. In 1982 I bought a black Raleigh Rapide from the store on Washington Avenue. I lived just two blocks away. Racine Cyclery was a Schwinn dealer when that meant something. I wanted a Schwinn—it was the high-status, “cool kids” brand—but comparable Raleighs were much less expensive. The Rapide should have been the bike that turned me into a serious cyclist. But when I got my own car in 1983, the bike started to collect dust. I rode it infrequently and then sold it when I moved to suburban Philadelphia in early 1988. I didn’t ride a bike again until 2003!

The Rapide was my first real road bike … at the bottom of Raleigh’s line, but a real road bike all the same. With its heavy steel frame and its stem shifters, it would be comically outclassed today. In the 1980s I had a faint notion of touring aboard the Rapide but I didn’t think of racing it. If I still owned it today, I might be able to use it as a dedicated indoor trainer bike. I am not nostalgic for the Rapide or, indeed, for Racine Cyclery. I wasn’t a teenage shop rat who knew the staff members by name. But I am sorry to see the demise of another independent retailer. We are fortunate to have three locally-owned bike shops here in Washington County. I am on a first-name basis with those guys, and you should be too.

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