May 9, 2010

Work takes me to…Charleston!

By Anna | 7 Comments »

First I was in Boston, but I didn’t do any cycling so who cares about that?!  Then I was in Charleston.  Elisa and I met some great folks from Charleston’s Holy City Bike Co-op when we went to Bike!Bike! a few months ago, so I got to hang out with them last week while there for work.  By a stroke of luck I arrived on a day that their shop was open, so I gave one of the guys a call for directions.

They have a great location above the rickshaw HQ, off one of the main drags downtown.  It was a little difficult to get back to where they set up shop, but apparently most of their clientele is directed to the shop via word of mouth so they weren’t too concerned about people getting lost.  It was raining a little and according to them the night was slower than usual, but there were a good number of visitors by my standards, and I ended up helping one of their patrons change his pedals over to clipless and add cleats to his shoes.  I was totally stoked that this was the job I was assigned because that is about the only thing I know how to do.

I met a number of people that night and had a great time talking and drinking and learning about how their shop works.  Dan was making racks for bike valet and it was interesting to see and hear how they perfected their technique.  Bike valet is something we would like to do more with Bici, but the demand isn’t exactly high in Birmingham and thus we don’t have too much incentive to get anything done.

Then a single speed bike arrived for me to borrow!  I was so so excited I could have died, especially once we flipped it to fixed.  It’s been a few months since I’ve ridden a fixed gear (I sold dear Puggles to Rebecca after her accident) so I was pretty nervous once it was time to get on the thing.  I ended up really enjoying it – partially because there was both a front and back brake, and mostly because Charleston is absolutely flat.  The traffic is also much easier to ride in because the speed limit is very slow in much of the downtown area.  Fixed makes perfect sense in a place like that.

Once the bike was ready for me to ride they closed up shop and I got a nighttime tour of Charleston – to the battery, down some crazy narrow alleys, through King Street where all the shops are, all the while hearing random history about the cannons…and other stuff.  The next day I did what I came to do for work, then rode and rode all around the city.  It was perfection.

Later that evening I met up with a few of these new friends for Cinco de Mayo.  On the way to meet them I was honked at and told to “get on the fucking sidewalk” by a young male driver.  We came up to a stop light and he had his window down.  Eye contact was made and he said that since there was a sidewalk I should get on it.  I responded in a very friendly manner that it’s actually illegal to ride on the sidewalk and bikes are required to follow the same laws as cars.  A few other things were said, and eventually he said that he was sorry for being such an asshole, that he loved Charleston, and loved me!  Hey guys, it pays to be nice!

Anyway, we went to a place called Taco Boy; they have a deal where if you ride your bike then it’s buy one get one free for Margaritas.  Amazing!  On the ride home we took a detour up their one “hill”, aka the Cooper River Bridge.  We took in the view, and then I was off.  Next week: Atlanta, then that cycling mecca known as Portland, OR.  I’m ready.

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  1. On May 9th, 2010 Elisa M said:

    I must go. It looks beautiful! And to get to hang out with the Holy City folks…bliss.

  2. On May 10th, 2010 Jenn said:

    Charleston is home to me, though we haven’t even been there in several years. The pics made my heart all puffy for home! Glad you enjoyed your stay in the countries’ most beautiful city!

  3. On May 10th, 2010 Steve A said:

    Nice that the honker apologised.

  4. On May 10th, 2010 ha1ku said:

    Ahhhh, Charleston. I miss it and don’t go back nearly often enough. I’m glad to read that you enjoyed yourself.

    I have found that there are still a great deal of uninformed commuters who believe cyclists belong on the sidewalks. I see this behavior with both the locals and the tourists. The tourists are especially scary with their bicycling habits. The local advocacy group seems to have put in a lot of effort in making Charleston more bike-friendly (

  5. On May 11th, 2010 DC said:

    If you’re in Pittsburgh (Once again Forbe’s Most Livable City)
    GF and I have bike you can use.

  6. On May 12th, 2010 PLS said:

    What a nice bike! Wow, I wish I knew some bikey people up here in NH who are into older steel bikes. The only real bike people I know are in my local bike shop. The guy who runs it, Bob, called my 1970′s Gitane “obsolete” last week when I brought her in for repair!

  7. On May 16th, 2010 Karen said:

    The ugly remarks by the guy in the car are no big surprise to me. I grew up in SC and anything out of the mainstream (like riding a bicycle on the street!) is often greeted with distrust and, strangely, anger. Charleston really is beautiful and worth exploring on a bike but “sharing the road” might be too progressive a concept for them.

    Sorry, to be negative. Everytime I go back and wish I could live close to family and isn’t downtown Greenville great, I soon realize that South Carolina is still a very RED state.

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