Is this the best bike shop in the world? In my educated opinion I believe it's not only the best but the GOAT. There are a number of reasons for this, although the standout and irreplaceable reason is that there are actual human beings that love and live this shop on a daily basis. Not just the guys who work there but the people that shop there and the cyclists who rally there. I felt like the teenage Hong Kong boy I once was hanging out in my favourite shop, Flying Ball Bicycle Co., I could have spent all day and night simply loitering around meeting and talking to people. Which is something the GSC endorses, I mean, how many bike shops in the world have a back alley that fully endorses having a beer and hanging out?
One of the highlights for me was meeting John Watson, aka The Radavist, (IG @theradavist) I'd been an admirer from a far for quite a while. He represents and leads a style and ethos of cycling that many have forgotten exists, there is no doubt he is the talisman to this band of alternative brothers and sisters. Another of the highlights was my old team mate and friend, Dave Zabriskie, turning up. Knowing he lived in LA, I had messaged him a couple of days before to tell him I'd be there, he replied, "God dammit, I was gonna surprise you."
So, how are the GSC gang alternative? Well for starters their primary reason for cycling is to have fun and create experiences together, I can't imagine any of them being Strava addicts or having ever been on a home trainer, let alone own one. Lycra is worn, and when it is, it is worn with panache. Although just as popular, if not more so, are t-shirts and board shorts. The current trend of gravel bikes was never a trend a here, it appears to be a way of life, their bikes are designed for adventures and expeditions, machines built for travelling and voyages near or far, if the apocalypse comes I want to be near these guys and girls, they'd know where to go and how to get there and what to do once they arrived.
Once again I was there with Brooks, promoting the C13 collaboration with CHPT3, but that became a footnote, before I knew it was taking part in the Club challenge, a traditional GSC affair, the record of Clubs being drunk way out of my range on this occasion, but all the same a wonderful way to begin our planned sunset ride.
This was maybe the best bit of the whole experience, the GSC planned ride out involved about a grand total of 15km, riding up to the top of the LA hills, watching the sunset, then riding back down to hang out at the shop to drink beers and eat tacos. As bike rides go, for an old racer, it was like a gift from the cycling gods. We pottered up, zero rush, not a care in the world.
It was a wonderful ride. One of the most beautiful I've been on in a very long time, made all the more special by the fact that no-one was keeping count and we didn't always stay on the road. Hats off to the Factor, it handled a section of downhill single track with ease, which earned both of us some added kudos amongst our new found friends. On our return we hit the back alley where the taco man was waiting, and the beers were chilling, and a famous actor was looking at the one and only Brompton in the shop. I didn't know he was a famous actor, but I do know how much I love Brompton, my complete and utter devotion clearly shone through and before I knew it he'd bought it and I was outside giving him lessons on how to fold and unfold it.
My night was curtailed when I mistakenly took a drag from a joint Omar ( had made, evidently this was not a good idea, as about an hour later I had to tell Jason to get me out of there, just as the party was really beginning to liven up. Oh well, live and learn. Although it was probably the lesser of two evils as I have a feeling I'd have been put under the table by the GSC gang, which wouldn't have been the ideal way to finish the Brooks West Coast Tour. So thank you to Brooks, and thank you to Jason Norton (IG @jasonnorton) and also Eugene Kim (IG @yourjeansoneugene) who took all these photos, and of course big thanks to all the shops that hosted us, good times were had. I miss the Golden Saddle Cyclery.