A buddy of mine suddenly received a bunch of money not from the government and not for school. So obviously he had to buy some bike parts. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the exact piece he was looking for is not sold in this bike Mecca we live in, so we had to go straight to the source. Which happened to be Rivendell Bicycle Works up in Walnut Creek, a quick BART ride away.
We step off the train, start riding without any inclination of which direction is correct, we’ll find it somehow. Down Main Street into the heart of the worst city I’ve been to in a while. The drivers are insane and it’s 80 degrees in February. But what do you know? It’s just a couple blocks down in the right, Rivendell’s showroom, Bike Book and Hatchet.
We walk into a small room lined with bikes and adventure related memorabilia. There are hatchets in the back and books along the wall, American made goods on the display tables and photos of adventures past hung everywhere. A man comes from the back of the store, smiles and greets us. Genuinely greets us and welcomes us to the showroom. His name is Will and he was the nicest person I had come in contact with in years. He wanted to know from where we came and why we were visiting, if we needed help or had any questions. It wasn’t just good customer service, he could care less if we bought anything. Will just wanted us to enjoy our visit.
About ten bikes line the left wall and window display, every type from a road machine to a single-track killer tour-bike adventure machine named the Hunqapillar. Will suggested we try out a couple bikes and ask any questions we have. He urged me to take the Hunqapillar out for a little test ride after I stared at it like it was a naked woman, I declined for the time being but secretly wished I could give it a proper test session. Instead we talked a bit about racking for touring and dirt adventures. I was eyeing the Hunqapillar’s setup and wondered if I could get something similar on the mongoose. Will follows us outside to give some recommendations. At first I thought he would immediately disregard my ATB POS and go back inside with all the masterpieces, but he surprised me with how excited and intrigued he was that I would be touring on something like that. He suggested I forego the Nitto racks they sell (yes declined a sale) and just pick up some affordable, beat up-able utilitarian racks and throw them on. His honesty was refreshing.
So finally we got to the point of our trip, that being to pick up some Nitto Abastache bars for my friends bike. Will tells us that they don’t actually sell and parts out of the showroom and that we need to head over to the warehouse. He hand draws us a map to get there and send us on our way. Hidden behind a Volkswagon dealership and within a large warehouse are a couple of garages out of which Rivendell runs it’s business.
This is where we meet Vince, the other nicest man in the world. Vince says hello and shows us to their bike shop where Bret picks up his handlebars and some bar tape. We look around and see even more beautiful bikes, some great photos and trinkets and an all around cool shop. When Vince finishes ringing up the goods he insists we try out a couple bikes. This insistence on trying something new was what he had in similar with Will. You feel it in the air around them, an adventurous spirit. Sure it’s just trying out a new bike, but it’s just a small example of the larger willingness to do whatever comes your way. Brett takes his first ride on the Hunqapillar, cruising through the parking lot on this triple-tube monster. Vince is smiling and just loving to help out. Brett swings back around for another frame, and I hop on the beast. It’s set up as a road tourer but handles like a race machine, comfortable yet responsive and unforgiving. The best part is that it has twice as many tube but weighs half as much as the mongoose, touring would be no problem on the Hunqapillar. We try out one more bike, an experimental extra long wheel-base tourer. It was odd at first, thinking the wheel-base would hinder the control but it was nimble and agile around the corners. It would take a man’s man to wheelie it but for all other purposes, that bike was the shit too. Bikes tested, handle bars purchased, friends made. It was time to get going. I asked Vince for a portrait and he couldn’t be more willing.
Rivendell was an inspiring experience for me. It had been a while since I interacted with a nice human being. I was inspired by their adventurous souls, always wanting to go out and experience new things, willing to try anything and pushing others to do so as well. In fact with that idea in mind I decided on the train back that I would go camping the next day, I wanted a little piece of adventure immediately, to try something new and crazy. The seed was planted with a test ride, and now I’ve gone camping twice in two weeks. Who knows what’s next?