Dirty Words: Bike Shops and Beer Joints

A weekly Bike rant by Sal Ruibal

By Sal Ruibal

Have you ever felt like your life was part of some cosmic joke, like Someone Up There was messing with you just for laughs? Who or whatever is responsible for the weirdness in our lives does have a sense of humor. Unfortunately, that sense of humor seems to be derived from watching a lot of cable channel sitcoms. I guess the cosmos can be pretty boring without TV, so even the gods watch Big Bang Theory on two different channels showing back-to-back shows for the 73rd time.

The shop...that place where everybody knows your name and you favorite lube.

In all the years I’ve been riding, eventually my favorite bike shops turn into the two-wheeled equivalent of a tavern and more specifically, a beer joint.

I walk into the shop. The regulars turn and say, “Saaaaaalllllll!”

I say, “Wassup?”

They say: “What can we do ya for?”

The eytomology of that phrase has eluded me for many years. I guess the “do ya” part is some type of chummy bar slang with possible erotic tones. Notice that I didn’t say ‘homoerotic’ because my bike shop has several excellent female mechanics.

Beer joints and bike shops also have punny names. I didn’t say ‘funny’ because most of them are lame puns based on some aspect of the business, such as “The Bike Lane,” “Revolution Cycles” or “Pedal Pusher.”

The bar...interestingly, also the place where everyone knows your name and favorite lube

Beer joints chime in with “The Office,” “The Tap Dance,” “Mother’s” and the ubiquitous “Cheers.”

Everybody knows your name, but you can’t always remember all of theirs, so you call them “Chief,” “Boss,” and the always appropriate, “Duuuudes,” which has become unisex. The beer-smelly bar and the repair counter are twins, usually wood and utilitarian, often stained with various viscous substances. There used to be cigarette burns, too, but the days of the bartender/mechanic with a never-ending butt in their mouth are long gone.

They know your favorites: Duvel on tap, Peanut Butter GU, White Lightning, Tri-Glow, Finish Line, Schwalbe, Jagermeister, IPA, Stan’s , Slime, Hennessy, CamelBak , Courvoisier and Clif Bars.

The folks behind the counter at the best shops and the best bars know when you’re a bit short and they also know when you’re living large. They know when you’ve been eating dust or eating steak and treat you same no matter what. Sometimes they show up unexpectedly at a race when you need a friendly face and a number-eight hex wrench to tighten what’s loose. Sometimes they ride to the rescue at an out-of-control party when you need a strong friend with box of big wrenches in his trunk.

In the end, the best of both worlds attract us because we all need a haven from the mad, mad world; a place where we’re just one adjustment away from perfect.

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