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The Specialty

February 19, 2010

My entire day was spent at the Sierra Club table at the Black Hills Sportsman’s Show.   I would have preferred to have been doing a variety of other things, but, all in all, it was a tolerable day.  On my right was the High Plains Game Ranch booth.  High Plains is a working ranch, owned by Randy Valerie and he and his old friends, Fred and Cherie Wells, were staffing the High Plains booth. 

Years ago we’d all shot black powder together in the, now defunct, High Plains Free Trappers muzzleloader club.  It was a nice reunion.

The booth on my left was the Two Wheeler Dealer exhibit.  Two Wheeler is Rapid City’s oldest and biggest bike shop.  I purchased my first fancy road bike there in 1977.  Subsequently each of our kids grew up and got their first (and second – and third) mountain bikes at Two Wheeler.  My last shopping trip was a couple of years ago; I got myself an old-man’s “suburban” bike with a big seat.

Two Wheeler has since been sold and I had the chance to meet some of the new management.  We talked intermittently most of the evening, between folks stopping by our respective booths.  Just before closing time Two Wheeler had a fairly knowledgeable biker stop by and I got to rubberneck on a detailed discussion about the “Specialty” bike hanging on the wall. 

The salesman said he’d get the bike down so the biker could get a better look.  I thought this ought to be pretty interesting since he had no help and the Two Wheeler booth was crowded with gear, bikes, and excercise equipment.  To my surprise, the salesman leaned over the stuff on the floor, reached up, grabbed the bike, and ZIP, it was down on the floor in front of the prospective customer.  “Carbon fiber — 21 pounds with the water bottle, ” said the salesman.

After the customer moved on, the salesman let me look at the bike and heft it.  I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t picked it up.  Now I’m having a hard time believing that such a machine can be ridden any distance without breaking into tiny pieces.  It must be so — I saw them do it in the Tour de France — nobody would shell out $3000+ for it if carbon fiber bikes did break.  Eventually I guess I’ll believe it. 

This whole thing led me into a conversation about bikes that was way the heck over my head.  So, to exit gracefully I played my Gunnar card, relating how’s this friend of mine restores these classic road bikes and outing some of the better yarns I’ve seen at “1410 Oakwood.”  The salesman was most impressed when I told him that through all the tales about chasing and restoring these old classics, neither Gunnar or any of his cohorts mentioned anything about “dollars.”  The look on his face was so good that I decided to use that as my closer and vamoosed. 

[For recent example of these insider exchanges, take a look at Gunnar’s “Galmozzi and the 47 Pound Chicken” at]

— JM

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gunnar Berg permalink
    February 20, 2010 10:59 am

    21 pounds. Thats about what the McLean weighs. Some of the carbons are less than 15 pounds, which means to race they have add weight to get to the legal 15 pound limit.

    The reason nobody wants to talk about the money is that it gets scary. Its not a cheap hobby.

    Thanks for the link. A large marketing company has recently purchased the rights to the Galmozzi name. That cannot be a good thing.

  2. Gunnar Berg permalink
    February 20, 2010 2:11 pm

    And your $3000 might be light. A TdF level bike is twice that.

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