31 March 2008

Please patronize Blackstone Bicycle Works

Man, I hate the Internet. It's led me to this strange double life where a record number of people now hate my guts because they take the crud I write seriously. Well, you know what they say about well-behaved women. Except they generally say that about well-behaved women who are, shall we say, in a different age demographic, so maybe what I really need to do is get a red hat and go undercover with my grandmother's friends.

In addition, I'm also beginning to give up hope that I will ever meet j of TATI. My bizarre schedule hasn't been allowing me to show up at any of the numerous local events that he organizes, and now I hear that he's gone into hiding because with the recent closing of Art's Cycles his own business has been swamped with customers. (Snarky aside: Only in Hyde Park will you ever hear a proprietor actually complain about getting too many customers. Another snarky aside: If you're all flooding TATI now and leaving j in such a quandary, then why did Art's ever have to close? Tsk tsk.)

Word on the Web (and occasionally on the street, where I have been known to introduce myself and, strangely, receive all sort of compliments about the non-dorkiness of my cheap hybrid bike) is that, as j says, "the reality is that [Blackstone Bicycle Works] is a little out of a way for some folks"--which I have a suspicion is a polite way of saying that the reality is that Blackstone Bicycle Works is almost sort of technically in Woodlawn, and University of Chicago students are wary to terrified of venturing any farther south of the Midway Plaisance than that first layer of campus buildings. Okay, allow me to exert my apparent influence in the blogosphere, ignite even more controversy, and utter yet another rude and uninformed statement before the unsuspecting public: Y'all are a bunch o' whiners.

Now, I can qualify that one. I work, as some of you know, at the University of Chicago Press. The Experimental Station, of which Blackstone Bicycle Works is only one part, is literally right behind my office. I have several coworkers who live in the vicinity, and even a few former coworkers who still live in the vicinity even though they now work elsewhere. I suppose that corner of Hyde Park/Woodlawn (where is the boundary, anyway?) has a reputation on Teh Intertubz for being not so great, owing to The Woodlawn Wonder's most excellent chronicling of her adventures and Hyde Park Urbanist's post on how much the "new" Press building's location leaves to be desired in terms of security. Heck, yours truly rants often enough of the perils of crossing the Midway in the dark, so I'm probably just as guilty.

But let me make one thing clear: you will not die if you come down here some afternoon to buy an inexpensive used bicycle or get your brakes fixed. The worst you will encounter is that construction mess between the Press and the community garden, which I know has closed that block of Blackstone Ave. to auto traffic, but I'm pretty sure they're letting pedestrians through.

So please, go ahead and go to Blackstone for all your bicycle needs that TATI can't satisfy. They are an authorized Breezer dealer, for those of you looking for a new "transportation" bike. I bought my own little Zig7 right off the floor back in September. And they've showed me how to adjust my own brakes a sufficient number of times for me to finally figure out how to do it myself. Blackstone is not "too far" or "out of the way." I know perfectly well what the real reason is; there's absolutely no need to haul all the way up to the freaking north side for a new chain out of concern for your safety. Okay? Now quit being so ridiculous.

As for me and my new Real Bike that doesn't exist yet, I guess I'll have to ignore my own admonitions and trek up to Kozy's one of these weekends, announce that I'm looking for "some kind of road bike," and hope that they actually sell me what I want instead of some completely useless toy with razor-thin tires that was designed to be carried on the back of a Lexus SUV and impress the hell out of other weekend club riders who wouldn't be caught dead hauling my huge bag everywhere. Sigh. Well, Avenger could use a professional once-over now that spring is here; at least I can scoot over to Blackstone sometime for that.


At 31 March, 2008 14:31, Blogger Eric Allix Rogers said...

Technically, the boundary is 60th, so all the South Campus buildings are already in Woodlawn, for what that's worth.

At 31 March, 2008 15:01, Blogger J/tati said...

So (1) totally agreed that now is the time for the Southshore/Kenwood/Hyde Park/Woodlawn cycling community to (re?) discover Blackstone. It's awesome and even before the Art's debacle, I referred customers there on a daily basis. (2) There are both good reasons and bad ones that folks don't go to Blackstone. One reason is that it's not super easy to find, and if you're a tourist or visitor with a borrowed bike (many of these folks in HP) then I guess I can understand. Another one is if you're only 8 years old and your mom won't let you go more than 4 blocks from home. Another good reason is if you're bike is completely unrideable and you've already walked from 47th street to 55th and now you need to walk another 20 minutes... But everyone else: please check it out and give Blackstone a chance.

At 31 March, 2008 15:44, Blogger Jennifer said...

j- Ah, I see. I had a feeling it was mostly people like me, who used to whine that Blackstone was "too far," then turn around and drag my nonfunctional bike onto the Red Line. But when I got my job here my coworkers metaphorically smacked some sense into me. But yes, it's a long haul on foot if you don't already have other business down here.


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