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Re-Tire in 2009

Tacoma Bike treads new ground

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IThese days we can’t even look into the heavens without trepidation; the next apocalyptic blizzard could descend on us at any moment. With the End Times seemingly nigh, I can only ask: Anyone up for a bike ride?

Tacoma Bike offers two-wheeled escape from financial and meteorological uncertainty. I met with owner Mike Brown for an impromptu interview behind racks of gleaming, ready-to-ride bicycles. We sat overlooking railroad tracks and the 509 Bridge (two paths Brown doesn’t recommend for cyclists).

The easygoing man has built a similarly warm and inviting shop. Once a truck dealership, the expansive space needed what he calls “artistic insight.” Borrowing from a Tour de France ad, Brown designed a life-sized yellow bike silhouette that passersby will notice in the front window. He also hired Puyallup painter Karen McClain to tone down the glaringly white walls with a few splashes of color. “(Her work) really transformed this store from this cavernous space” into something more intimate and welcoming for visitors, Brown says.

After completing the major setup duties, he and his one full-time employee, Dennis Baldwin, unofficially opened their doors about three weeks ago. Some 150 bikes (each one hand-built by Brown’s crew) cater to riders of all experiences and abilities, from the “extreme recreational rider” to “the wannabe Olympic athlete.” But where do I, whose most intense excursion involves walking to the mailbox, fit on that scale? Says Brown (who has wheeled around locales as distant as Tuscany and the French Alps), “(Beginners) are the ones I look forward to dealing with, because maybe they didn’t realize they had the potential.”

Whether educating novices or setting up shop in a slippery economy, Brown seems primed to face any challenge in his path. Hopefully, in 2009 the rubber meets the road at Tacoma Bike.      

[Tacoma Bike, 309 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.1351]

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