| 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).
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
San Fran wins the World Series; Sistine Chapel improvements; Kurds moving toward Syria and more national and international news for Thursday, October 30, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
Saints fans were to gather, make merry, eat/drink compliments of a new Downtown group and watch the Saints beat Carolina and claim 1st place in the NFC South. But...
Three bedroom traditional or four bedroom traditional in Lafayette
Our fav dress for all seasons
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram doesn't see his dramatic spike in production as any sort of validation.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing off one last time with her two main Republican challengers before next week's election.
Shoppers familiar with Louisiana-based Rouses Market might be surprised when they walk into the new third location set to open at the Corner of Johnston Street and Duhon Road south the Acadiana Mall on Wednesday.
Noted architect and co-founder/principal of Architects Southwest receives highest honor given to former student.
Know an innovator, job creator and visionary with a penchant for hard work? We want to know that person.
He’s pulling for Knezek and Hidalgo on his end of the parish but issued endorsements in three other districts as well.
Actually he’s not, but in this age of say anything, which the Harson campaign has perfected, we thought, ‘What the hell?’
Easy on shape, big on style
Four bedroom Lafayette home or a four bedroom Scott home
"This week, the Advertiser Editorial Board announced endorsements of Lafayette Parish School Board candidates. While I respect the newspapers’ right to make these endorsements, I do not agree with them."
In the vein of her literary hero Ernest Gaines, San Francisco Bay Area writer Natalie Baszile transforms a crop that’s mundane to some into a lush, beautiful thing and creates a world within her characters where relatives arrive in steady waves “like a river’s rising tide” and the soil is “dark and rich as ground French roast.”
If you care about the wellbeing of Louisiana’s college students, vote against Amendments 1 and 2.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Off a narrow gravel road running between a handful of mostly abandoned lots near a Mississippi River levee, down past sprawling oak trees and thick weeds, a lectern framed by banana trees has been set up in front of three short rows of folding chairs.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to New Orleans this weekend to stir up voter support for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Saints coach Sean Payton has spent much of his team's erratic season trying to build his players up.
The Daily Advertiser has weighed in on this year's LPSB elections with nine endorsements.