Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Moment Of Silence

It saddens us to learn that The Devil's Gear, one of New Haven's coolest bike shops, is closing their satellite location on Audubon Street.
When the original shop first opened, the owner, Matt, said, "My goal is to run myself out of business." He offered repair classes and discounts to just about every single club or organization. His goal was to get everyone to a point of self-sufficiency that they no longer needed the local shop. Matt raced in the 80's during a time when there were cool shops and not-so-cool shops and felt the industry had gone in favor of the not-so-cool. He felt that he could make a small living (read: break even) and promote cycling in a way no one else had done. Matt opened his shop on lower Chapel St., an area local government refers to as, "the outlands".
As his shop grew, he realized people were still willing to pay for repairs. He got them comfortable with the day-to-day maintenance, but they'd still pay a pro to do the big stuff. He hired some certified mechanics and Scorchers Chris S. and Tom O'Hara, two gents well-schooled in the cycle-arts.
Matt's shop donated to every available cause -- even Ghettodrome, our own debacle of a race event -- circles in the IKEA parking lot. Most of our alleycat flyers displayed his logo.
As his shop grew, he realized the need for a satellite, an outpost -- someplace where you could stroll in with a flat and get it fixed then and there. (The lower Chapel location is a far walk from downtown). He opened on Audubon and hired more crew. Unfortunately, the economy has taken a turn for the worse (Matt, feel free to Motherf*ck Mr. Bush for that) and sales are down. The second shop must close.


Quite a few years back, while I was still in college, Matt worked at the local haunt, The Daily Caffe. I used to ride my hand built, no grease in the headset, lowrider bicycle (Mo had a matching one) down to the coffee shop, and Matt would say, "Man, that's cool, but you need a real bike, too." After a jaunt out to Austin, Matt returned and worked at Baybrook Bicycle (Holy Sh!t, Bob, thank god you bought that place!) where he conned me into buying my first mountain bike. I rode it for a month before I decided to take it to White's Woods in Litchfield (yeah, yeah, yeah, lame-o trails, i know). I mentioned Mo might come up and he loaned me another bike for her. A weekend later I had paid off her bike -- she needed one that bad.
Matt's shop has a "motto" of, "Turning people onto riders. Riders into cyclists." It ain't bull-shizzle. I was a kid who built plywood-and-spare-tire ramps for my BMX until I made enough money to buy a shovel, and he saw it. He got me back into riding. And when Richie Neagle came along with the fourth or fifth fixie to grace the streets of New Haven since Colonel Pope for me, Matt was all for it. "Never mind the uphill," he said, "you'll motherf*ck the downhill". He was right.


This is by no means an obituary! The original shop is still open, and welcomes your business! The bike nerds we have grown to know and love are still employed, albeit with slightly less hours -- 'tis okay, Mr. Tom "moneypants" O'Hara ;) has moved out West. Keep shopping. Keep cycling. Keep building.
It just sucks that a local guy, with a locals-only dream has suffered because a bunch of wealthy ne'er-do-wells have f*cked the rest of us.

Thanks dude! Thanks for making me who I am today -- even if I don't always get along with you. And happy birthday you f*cker! Pay me back for the thousands of dollars I've spent on bikes since!!!!

1 comment:

bike said...

M.U.

thanks much for the write up.
It means a lot to me.

Peace,
M.F.

 

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