I have realised after nearly 42 years that I don’t speak bike.
I have a bike I use sometimes to get to the railway station. It’s a nice blue and white bike, with gears, and brakes and two wheels (thereby qualifying it as a BIcycle), and the man in the shop told me it was a hybrid bike. He was also very helpful in selling me a range of accessories* I would need.
At the moment it is sitting in the shed, as the back wheel has a puncture, and the only cycling I am currently doing is on a stationary cycle at the gym. Going back to the bike shop to get a replacement inner tube was fraught.
There was no indication with my manual as to which model I had, nor could I see one on the bike itself. When he asked me what type of bike I had, I went completely numpty and said “Errr, a ladies bike?”
He gestured to the range and asked which model I was riding. I was still totally blank as I didn’t see my model- all the ones I was shown were the more upright, commuter style bikes. I ended up gesturing pretty helplessly towards one, feeling a tad out of depth.
The tube he picked out that he thought would fit my bike. I looked at the valve and it wasn’t the right one, as it was too wide. He ended up looking up my purchase on their database and figuring out my wheel type, then picking out the right tube, not without a bit of frustration on his and my parts.
The issue here is, I happen to live in a town where there are HEAPS of cycle stores, all well patronised. There are hordes of road cyclists who zip around the Lake on the weekend, we have the road cycling championships every year, and we have a just had a cycling classic aimed at raising money for cancer research. With all this activity, there is an assumption that when people walk into a bike shop, they’re knowledgeable and can talk the torque. But sadly, I’m not!
Do you know what I would like in a bike shop? Someone who is not a hardcore cyclist, who can interpret thingummy and whatsit and vague looks into something meaningful. Someone who doesn’t reel off jargon, someone who is fluent in bike, but doesn’t make you feel out of depth because you’re not. And a bike shop which offers sessions to numpties like me sessions in looking after your bike and how to change your tyre.
*The whole point about the word accessories, is that I associate it with things like shoes, handbags, scarves and jewellery, not bike lights, or panniers, jerseys, filets, and those godawful ugly cycling shoes! Though a bike pump however, is an essential accessory…