put it, “We don’t care if you come in with a Mongoose from Kmart or a Pinarello. We try to treat everybody here with the respect they deserve.”
The democratic attitude translates to the shop, where you are inclined to linger awhile before pedaling on to work. And if you do decide to cash in some flex hours and stay, you’ll see a panorama of Denver’s cyclists. The morning I camped out at one of the café’s enormous windows I watched a string of retirees, fixed-gear couriers, and spandexed athletes rotate through the shop. A man towing his sleeping bag and food with a rusted mountain bike used the shop’s sink to fill a dog bowl. Brian and Justin greeted every customer just the same.
This isn’t the first time Brian has owned a bike shop. His old shop, which he sold to another group of mechanics, is just a few blocks to the south and a few price brackets upscale from the ReCyclery. For the most part, he sold new bicycles.
Today, the ReCyclery almost exclusively carries secondhand bikes. “The majority of our inventory is used and arrives in real bad shape,” he told me, rolling a refurbished Schwinn up and down the sidewalk. “We’ll take it, shine it up, put new tires on it.” Brian now wants to start aiming at higher level clientele, bringing in the top products for the cyclist planning on a handful of mountain centuries this season, but for now he likes the look of the reborn Schwinn.
Then again, the ReCyclery Café could be perfectly tuned to the future of cycling culture in the Mile High City. Colorado is a capital of high-end recreational cycling, and for good reasons. Trails lead to roads that can take you as far as Aspen. Despite the snow that falls on the Broncos whenever they play on national television, Colorado gets over 300 days of sunshine, which is part of the reason the state hosts the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, America’s answer to the Tour de France. In a given bike shop, especially in the eco-haven that is Boulder just north of Denver, it isn’t uncommon to hear strangers trading their VO2 maxes as a point of conversation.
At least in Denver, a greater number of people are mounting bikes to get around the city rather than to escape to the mountains. BikeScore named Denver the third best city for two wheels this year, just behind Portland and San Francisco. Denver’s B-Cycle sharing program has won increasing numbers of members and stations since its inception in 2007. Brian and Justin have recognized that you don’t need a top of the line machine when your objective is getting to work or the grocery store.
In fact, they’ve designed their menu around cyclists on the move. “All of our salads are hand held, in a wrap and sealed with a Panini grill, so you can eat while biking down the street,” explained Justin. The shop plans on opening the city’s first “bike thru” window this summer. The owners had no comment when asked how quickly one can bike while eating.
They also each wore a quiet smirk when asked about their expansion plans, but spilled the beans after some prodding. The two have leased the area above the shop to build a yoga studio and a stage for open mics. The City of Aurora, a suburb to Denver’s east, approached them about helping revive their downtown with a new café. “We might be talking about a franchise,” said Justin.
For now, circles of reuse and repurpose keep the ReCyclery rolling. Coffee grounds and compost go to an urban garden a few blocks away and return as fresh produce. With a little love and labor, used frames become ways around the city for a customer and a profitable mark up for Brian and Justin. Just as the owners had hoped, a community has found a home in the center of those circles.
“Makes you want to play that opening song of the Lion King or something,” said Brian. “Yes, Simba. Everything the sun touches is ours.”