Bike Race Winner, Author, Philanthropist, Bike Shop Proprietor. Lance’s commuter-focused bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s, held their grand opening this past weekend and yours truly was lucky enough to score an invite to the event. Landed in the ATX (Austin, TX) on Friday morning to the captain’s welcome of “Welcome to Austin, the temperature is a balmy 94 degrees and not a bit of it dry.” 94 degrees? That’s only 4 degrees from a Nick Lachey solo. To put the swing of temp into perspective, it was 50 when I got on the flight. I wasn’t even sure that my pomade would work at such a temperature. I later found out that 90 degrees was really the cut-off temp.
I dig A-Town. I know I’ve gushed before about the capital of the Lonestar Republic before but I have to reiterate that it’s a great spot. Great music, cool vibe, stellar nightlife, beautiful people, bike friendly, 94 in May. You don’t even need a car. The pedicabs might as well race and the bike lanes are generous and widely used. Our hotel was across the street from where one of the more forgettable seasons of The Real World was filmed (pictured on the left) which I thought was kind of funny. My Trek comrades don’t catch the show but having watched it since the San Fran season, I’m a bit of a Real World sommelier. Best season? London; and if you have beef with that, bring it, I will destroy your argument. A couple culinary discoveries the Trek squad made this trip were The Elephant Room on Congress (between 3rd and 4th) which treated us to live jazz and perhaps the city’s best Old Fashioned. Two floors up is home to Kyoto the sushi haunt where we refueled for the evening. The tempura was light and the wasabi cleared your sinuses. One of the more enjoyable meals I’ve had in all of Texas.
Back to bikes. The shop is located in a building that’s been in transition for years but has retained a lot of its original charm and materials. The natural fibers make for fabulous aesthetics and the wall candy ain’t too bad either. Hanging from the rafters are more than jus a few of the bikes that have sat under the greatest cyclist of all time but there’s some chi-chi custom jobs thrown in the mix as well. The winner of the North American Handmade Bike Show (wooden rims and grips) hangs above some open counter space along with a few custom-built choppers from a builder in SoCal. At the end of the rows of bicycles is a full-on wall size mural done up by a famous graffiti artist. I have no idea what the painting is of or what it represents other than it’s really cool and makes me want to start freestyling. The bathrooms come complete with full showers that are open for commuters to use. The attached coffee shop, “Juan Pelota” serves up liquid offerings with a mix of sandwiches and salads. I’m told “Juan Pelota” is south-Texas spanish slang for “one testicle”, a play on words that was certainly not lost on the locals I talked to.
Lifestyle bikes dominate a lot of the floor space with a wide selection of brands and styles represented which is nice to see if you have a little something to do with marketing them. There’s a great road and mountain bike selection but you can read the other blogs if you want to read about those. The shop’s apparel selection is crazy diverse with brands like Mash and RVCA getting some decent shelf space. When was the last time you went to buy jeans at a bike shop? Start thinking about it.
Overall, the grand opening was off the richter with celebs like Gary Fisher and Lance himself dropping by to shake hands and kiss babies. Former Wallflowers guitarist and author of Mike and the Bike, Michael Ward, dropped in to read his book and sing songs with the younger attendees. All I could think was “I wonder if any of these kids has heard Bringing Down The Horse?”