A week ago, I sent an email to a shop called Bike Tech in Barcelona to ask if they had a few replacement parts for my Ortlieb panniers, which were given to me by a friend in Telluride, Juju, the day of my departure. The answer, from Koos, the Dutch owner of Bike Tech, was yes. Parts were in stock. So, after a harrowing journey to get there – most journeys along city streets here are harrowing for me – I arrived at the shop to replace some parts that were breaking on my panniers. After half an hour, I had assembled a small pile of Ortlieb equipment which I decided to purchase in order to make life easier – dry bag, map case, replacement hooks and rails for the panniers in case they failed catastrophically. It seemed like a good investment to make while I was in an Ortlieb store – who knows when I will find another one?
Koos did not ring me up for these parts. I was ready to pay, he said no, and I suddenly found myself saying thank you, a bit dumbfounded at the unexpected contribution. Koos replied to my thanks with a simple, “This is what we do here.” Meaning that Bike Tech is a touring shop. And I was a tourist coming through. Incredible. Koos and Jeroem, who also came from Holland to work at Bike Tech, were interested in hearing all about Seize The World, the systems we are using to fundraise, publicize, and sustain the project. Although I had the feeling that the support they were giving was more simple. . . When a touring bike rolls into Bike Tech, it is a bit different. That is not to say that Koos and Jeroem were not two of the most interested people with whom I have spoken about STWF. But I think you get the idea. Their store supports tourists around the world it seems, Biciclown is one such example, though I am sure that there have been many, many more during the years.
So, the bike I am using for this tour now has a Bike Tech sticker on it. My friend Kenneth from Bicycle Bob’s might say that the bike now has its Mojo. Or he might say, “&$%(# Bike Tech!” Tough to say with Kenneth… At any rate, I would put Bicycle Bob’s stickers on the bike as well. If I had them.
To give a bit of history with the bicycle, gathering parts began at Bicycle Village in Boulder, Colorado, where managers were generous with their help in finding parts. Assembly occurred later at Telluride Sports, in Telluride, CO where managers there were also very helpful with finding parts. The bicycle was complete in time for the Mountains to the Desert Ride. The theme throughout the assembly was thrift, for our success, especially at early stages, depends as much on thrift as it does on successful fund raising. That is why it has mismatched shifters, a rear hood cover on the front shifter, cranks and handlebars that were taken from a different bicycle with a damaged frame, etc. The bike cost roughly $600.
Returning to Barcelona, my experience at Bike Tech was immediately comfortable, like walking into your home shop. “This is my shop,” kind of feeling. Then to begin talking to people, and to have them remember the email, I sent, to have them be excited to learn about the tour… Perfect. Parts donations in that kind of situation are just a bonus. A very generous bonus to be sure. However, it is the conversation and the atmosphere that makes a shop your shop. I am just happy that I found this place. After 2 hours of riding around asking police officers and pedestrians for directions. At any rate, I look forward to keeping in touch with them, and will try to keep the Bike Tech sticker – which is stuck to the seat tube of my bike – intact as long as possible during this journey. When the chain needs to be lubed, or a barrel adjuster turned, I will be boxing my bicycle, shipping it to Bike Tech for service, and waiting for it to be shipped back. Whenever it happens. No matter the cost.