In Praise of Local Bike Shops — Race Pace Bicycles, Columbia, MD

Race Pace Bicycles

Race Pace Bicycles

In a previous post, I mentioned that when I travel I get my tires inflated at local bike shops. It’s not just that it’s simpler, it gives me an opportunity to check out bike shops and get local advice on rides, trail conditions and general bike stuff. In my travels I have visited some great bike shops and I’ve decided to mention them on this blog.

Race Pace Bicycles in Columbia, Maryland is a great bike shop. You may be wondering, what makes a shop great in my eyes? I do have a few totally subjective criteria.

  1. No attitude — one of the problems I have with bike shops is attitude. Cycling is a sport for svelte uber-fit athletes or urban hipsters and unfortunately I am neither. When I walk into a bike shop it is obvious that I am old, out of shape and obese.
    My per peeve is shops that take one look at me and cop an attitude. you know, “What’s he doing here”, “He must be areal noob” or “He’ll try cycling and decide in a week that it’s too much for him.” In reality, while I may be old and fat, I have been cycling seriously for most of forty years, I travel everywhere with my bike and I have been wrenching for decades.  I am a serious customer and I expect to be treated with respect.
  2. Knowledgeable staff — I expect the staff to be knowledgeable about cycling and bike technology. When I do have technical questions they are usually complicated. My bike is a high-end 1990′s racing bike with S&S couplers, a Rinko headset and a combination of Dura-Ace, Phil Wood and Ultegra components. When I bring it in to a shop and they comment on the Phil Wood hubs – I know I am in the right place.
  3. Helpful service — In my travels, I often go into a shop just to ask trail advice or get my tires inflated. I can tell when shops are helping me through gritted teeth. On the other hand, I really appreciate it when a shop takes the time to be interested in me and my bike, even if I am only coming in for air.

Race Pace, satisfied in every category. Every customer is greeted by an employee who welcomes them and answers questions. I didn’t bring my bike in but when I took my wheels to the shop to be inflated the tech looked at them and said, ‘Cool hubs!. Last summer, when I was in the area, I rode the Annapolis Trail and by the Capitol in DC. When I asked the shop guy about where to ride, he told me there was a local trail network with miles and miles of trails. He asked me where I was staying and told me that I could access the trail system from the streets around my hotel.

Race Pace is a great shop, I will make it a regular stop when I am in the area.

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