Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lance Armstrong opens bike shop

Dubbed Mellow Johnny’s, after Armstrong’s racing nickname, the 18,000 sq foot store is aimed at getting more people riding in Armstrong’s home town of Austin, Texas.

Top end Trek bikes, similar to those Armstrong rode on his seven consecutive Tour de France victories, will be available.

But Armstrong wants the shop to have wide appeal, and also plans to sell mountain bikes, commuter bikes, fixed wheels, low riders, handmade one-offs, triathlon bikes and more.

The shop will also provide lockers and showers for Austin’s bike commuters.

Armstrong’s vision is to make Austin a cycling city, in the same vein as Portland, Oregon.

But he admits there’s a lot of work to be done first.

He told his local paper, the Austin American Statesman: “"There are times I ride in Austin, and I'm afraid of cars.

"Imagine what the beginner cyclist must feel like? I think (Mayor) Will Wynn's dream was this whole revitalization of downtown, which we're getting, but it's going to make it a lot easier if people can get around on bikes."

Big brands to be sold in the shop beside Trek include Nike, Giro and Oakley.

There will be coffee on tap and bike mechanics at work on the shop floor who’ll answer any technical questions customers may have.

There will be some memorabilia from Armstrong’s glory days in the shop, but the aim isn’t for a museum vibe.

In fact, Armstrong predicts that Mellow Johnny's will be "the coolest bike shop in the world".

But, despite his mammoth plans, he insists he doesn’t want to see off Austin’s smaller bike shops.

"It's not us versus them," he told the Statesman. "We're all about the cycling culture."

Although it’s some way from opening, a vacant 1950s building has been earmarked for the project and local architect Michael Hsu has created a masterplan. Work on site started in February and is expected to go on through the summer.

The store is just north of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a path that will cut east-west through downtown Austin.

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