A few years ago, Brent saved his pennies for a custom-built Niner mountain bike. He did his research, selected each individual gear shifter and hub, and when he was ready to begin the process, teamed up with a bike specialist in Centreville, Delaware to construct his masterpiece.
Rob Garrison was opening a bike shop in the small town six miles outside of Wilmington, and when a teammate described him as only person he’d ever let touch his bikes, Brent never looked back. They emailed regularly, attended bike swaps, drank beers and talked shop. Brent watched as Rob built, then learned parts of the process himself.
And when all was said and done, he left Garrison Cyclery with the love of his life (a link from the days when Brent actually blogged), a Scandium Air 9 frame supported by 29-inch wheels and all sorts of crazy-light components. He was a man obsessed.
I spent hours last summer getting that terrible green paint off our front porch. I forgot how different it looked!
I wasn’t totally sold on the need to travel to another state for bike purchases and maintenance, but Brent had already decided that he’d never stray.
Fast forward two years, several mishaps with local bike shops, and a blown fork during a race last spring, and I gradually began to come around.
Quite simply, Rob and his crew know bikes. When I came in last year, for instance, Rob directed me right to Rick, one of his mechanics, who used to work for Rock Shox building the very same forks that had blown up on my bike.
But more than that, they love bikes, and because they love bikes, they pay attention to the details.
If I weren’t convinced before, an experience this past month sealed the deal.
In mid-February, Brent and I loaded our bikes into the car and carted them down to Rob’s shop for a routine annual checkup. A few days later, Brent received an email from Rob, alerting him that there was a small crack in the bike’s frame.
Can you see the crack? Look closely…
Yep, there it is. A hairline fracture in the crook of the bike’s welding.
Brent’s gone over that bike a hundred times and never noticed the crack. I could go over it a thousand and wouldn’t have seen it. But Rob and his mechanics examined the frame with a level of awareness and workmanship that I’ve never encountered from a bike shop.
That crack might not look like much, but even the smallest fracture can compromise the integrity of the frame and cause serious crashes – a mass tort lawyer’s dream.
Rob spoke with Niner and within two weeks had a brand new frame, fully covered under the company warranty. That week, one of his mechanics rebuilt the bike, and when we went to pick it up this past weekend, Brent’s eyes twinkled at the sight of the shiny new Air 9.
We thanked Rob and (after nearly an hour of bike talk) headed for the trails of Marsh Creek so Brent could reunite with his long lost love.
And as we pulled out of the parking lot, I think I finally grasped the wonder that is Garrison’s.