Somewhere around grade school, the realization sunk in that when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, they expected a single answer. One of my greatest struggles remains how to experience all the cool stuff in this world.
Now when people ask me what I do, sometimes I just say that I’m a dabbler.
It’s easier than explaining my non-linear career path from lawyer to middle-school-librarian to sea kayak guide to ski instructor back to a lawyer, which evolved into a real estate investor and writer.
No matter how many careers I try on, there will be some jobs I never get to experience.
Take servicing bikes.
A few months ago I watched Joe Driver from Sycamore Cycles build my Yeti. A smile spanned my face, as my bike materialized before my eyes. For me, seeing someone connecting pieces into my bike was as far from my personal skill set as a street performer juggling a butcher knife, a metal bat and a butternut squash.
That day I got the closest I’d ever come to knowing what it’s like to work in a bike shop and mess around with bikes, so I decided to sit down with Joe and get the scoop on working at Sycamore Cycles.
Our conversation went like this:
So rumor has it that you sometimes ride in jeans. Is that true or just Brevard bike lore?
If it’s below fifty, I wear jeans. Skinny jeans are better than tights. The day I interviewed for Sycamore, we rode out in Pisgah.
I was in the parking lot with Art, another employee at Sycamore, and Wes, the owner, and Art looked over at me, “You ready to go, you’re wearing jeans?”
I said yep. Art and Wes just sort of shrugged and exchanged a skeptical look.
They hired me anyway.So what was that job interview like?
We went for a ride in Pisgah, Cove Creek, Daniel’s Ridge and Cat Gap. On the way there I was nervous about keeping up or riding like crap. We didn’t talk business at all, just talked about riding. It was the weirdest and best interview I’ve ever been on. I was pinned the whole time. After the ride we went to dinner. It was instant click with all the guys, everyone I work with is great and now we’re like a family.
Were you worried about what to order?
Hell yeah, I didn’t know whether to get a beer or not. Then Wes ordered one so it was easy.
How did you find out about Brevard?
I kept hearing about the riding here. Last fall I came for a long weekend and we arrived in the dark. The next morning we rode.
It was love at first light.
Everything was closed by the time we finished riding. After that weekend of riding Pisgah, I wanted to figure out how to live here.
I didn’t go to downtown Brevard. I didn’t know about the waterfalls. I hadn’t even heart about Dupont. It’s been one amazing discovery after another.How long have you been biking?
Five years ago my best friend, Seth, said we should buy bikes.
I was reluctant because whatever I do, I’m all in.
Seth convinced me and we each spent a thousand bucks. After three rides I was officially hooked.
The next thing I know I have a five thousand dollar bike, I started racing, and I was working at a bike shop.
I knew there are better bikes so I needed one. I told myself that I have so much fun on an entry -level bike, how much more fun could I have on a better bike.
When did you know you’d like to work on a bike?
I’m pretty mechanically inclined so I can work on anything. I started with simple stuff – adjusting gear, headsets, brakes, and changing flat tires. From there went from selling slash service to primary service. Now I mostly just wrench.
I like fixing stuff whether it’s a bike or working with hands, figuring stuff out, making it work.
What’s your least favorite part about the job?
I don’t like to be greasy. The guys tease me because I wash my hands like twenty times a day.
What’s your favorite part?
Developing relationships with guys who work there. I like going to work, and end up going there even on my days off. When you walk into the store, someone wants to know where you went, everyone cares about each other and customers.
I love working at Sycamore, I guess you could say I’ve got a lot of brand pride.
Are there any upcoming races that you’re training for?
This weekend some guys from Sycamore are going to 12 hours of Tsali, an endurance mountain bike race with a four-person team. We’ll each take turns riding the loop. It’s a great to be able to race together.
Then ORAMM – Off Road Assault of Mount Mitchell – is July 31st. It’s 60 miles, 10,500 feet of climbing That’s been on my bucket list for a while and I’m excited about it. I know it’s going to hurt.
What tips do you have for beginners just starting to ride?
Just start showing up – check out local mountain bike rides and look for group rides in your area. From there, challenge yourself, try new places and new things.