| Photo by Robin May
“I’ve had a passion for bikes my whole life. My father and I have been riding bikes since I was a kid.”
William Atkinson Jr. is still a kid when it comes to bicycles. Twenty-six with a lumberjack beard and a connoisseur’s enthusiasm, the St. Thomas More grad put on his big boy apron a few weeks ago and opened a bike shop like no other in Hubtown — Recycled Cycles of Acadiana. Part retail bike store, part repair shop, part museum of antiquities, the little business faces Parc Sans Souci on Vermilion Street next door to Agave Restaurant. Bikes ready for sale line the sidewalk out front, and the shop, part of the old Tribune Printing Plant building, is packed with them. Near the front window, some gems of yesteryear await repair and refurbishment — a 1941 Schwinn Admiral, the model at the center of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” shows its years beside a similarly venerable Murray sporting art deco lines. Above them in the display window hangs a Swiss Army bike. “That’s the most valuable bike in the whole store,” Atkinson says with detectable awe, “five grand.” While Swiss Army bikes, like the namesake knives, are tricked out and adaptable to happenstance, it’s probably prudent the Swiss are neutral in wartime.
In the back of the shop, bike builder Don Smith, sporting a bushy Edwardian mustache (What is it about bikes and facial hair?), is hard at work. Smith has made a name for himself by welding his own customized bikes, some modeled in spirit of Victorian penny-farthings (huge front wheel, tiny rear wheel). Atkinson says building custom bikes is also in the business plan.
And while the vintage bikes garner attention on the showroom floor, Recycled Cycles of Acadiana is mostly a place where customers can select contemporary used bicycles — cruisers and racers mostly — that have been restored and nursed back to good working order. There are also a few new bikes, including from a California company called Nirve.
Some of these bikes are donated, and Atkinson admits he’s also a familiar face at garage sales, although he’s vague on the exact dimensions of his supply line. “It’s kind of a secret,” he says slyly. “I don’t like to give out too many details, but I will say that we want to get bikes from everyone; people bring in old bikes and we buy them from them for a decent price. We fix them up, get most of them in perfect riding order and sell them for a decent price.”
It was while a student at Colorado Mountain College in the Rockies where cycling is literally an up and down affair that Atkinson really rolled upon the Nirvana of classic bicycles: a 1936 Roadmaster Deluxe. It was given to him by an elderly man Atkinson helped out of a jam. Atkinson still has the bike and is restoring it.
He admits the concept of selling recycled bikes isn’t new. A shop in Fort Collins, Colo., provided the inspiration for Recycled Cycles of Acadiana. “Just the coolest bicycle store I’ve ever seen,” Atkinson recalls, “That’s kind of where the dream started actually. I was in college, I went there: ‘I’m going to have me one of those one day.’”
Now he has one, and his first week was gangbusters: 13 bikes out the door. That’s solid commerce for a shop of this kind in a culture that likes it new, likes it disposable, and thinks of recyclables as stuff you throw out.
This is actually Atkinson’s second bike-related business venture. “We did bicycle messengers in Lafayette, and it lasted about three months and I couldn’t get a single client.”
Recycled Cycles of Acadiana is located at 208 E. Vermilion. For more information, call 235-2453 (BIKE).
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
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The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
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Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
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A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
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Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
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The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
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