You do what you gotta do:
Minneapolis, a state traditionally known for it’s Northern European influences and traditionally a Red State by voting standards, Libertarian leaning centrists with some values added Lutheran influence sprinkled in for good measure. Don’t get me wrong, it is an endearing place, some journals have voted Minneapolis as the number one city for residing and being healthy. In fact the roots are deep for me here, my great grandfather built a cabin on one of the myriad lakes here and I have been spending many Summers and now frequent visits. A relationship cultivated over the years from what started as more of a Fanboy crush, plutonic of course, but none the less true fascination and envy is what I have for Gene, who started a small bicycle service center here, now slinging coffee, One On One has developed into a church of sorts, Our Lady of the Mountain Bike. You see, Gene is known in certain circles as the king of cool, the pope of alley cat racers and underground mountain biking around the state. Many influential business person as well as a punk rock stars and your every day journey man rolling the streets of the Twin Cities have succumbed to paying homage to Gene and his store local. On this day the 24th of January in the year of our lord 2016 I made my pilgrimage to 117 N. Washington Avenue, it was one of those encounters that you’d expect to read between the pages of a Hemingwayesque story. Somewhat unplanned I crossed the threshold of this sanctuary and nearly stumbled directly into Gene as he was rolling quickly through the shop on a juvenile fat tired behemoth. One glance and we were recounting my last visit and confessional. A few hail marys and I was rite with the cycling gods. Gene needed sustenance in the form of high caloric value having dipped well below the E of his internal reserves. We ventured next door to the Haute Dish, a local bar and eating establishment for a late lunch. Gene took his spot at the end of the bar and asked for his usual, I would be an idiot to not ask for the same. It turns out cold pressed coffee and whisky go quite well together add eggs, cheese (the American variety) potato, ham, grease and you’ve got an all American breakfast, life was good and I couldn’t be happier, I think Gene was enjoying the conversation as well. It was a state of the nation address to a very small nation. Gene told me that the neighborhood was changing and he had grand designs of a remodel, a story he’s been telling me every time I visit. There have been some changes over the years; however, the reason people keep coming back is not because of the little tweaks to the art work hanging on the walls, the animal busts lining the showroom, the museum of cycling lore of which Gene has curated over the years, but because Gene has not gone away, nore has his passion to curate a culture laced with festive events just out back of his service center accessible by loading dock, frequented constantly by all types in need of bicycle service or just counsel from Gene, this day a broken legged messenger came hobbling, Gene was quick to offer solace, a phone, a ride to somewhere and his shop as reprieve from the cold and a place to sleep if he needed it. This type of generosity is rare, but Gene freely gives to the needy, the hungry and the every day lover of two wheels. He is a modern day saint, a cool calm collected Steve McQueen and an Evel Knievel of the knobby tire. As the lunch was wrapping up, one more shot of whisky arrived, tradition at the Dish and one that I hope will last as long as I am alive. Finally, Gene told me about some advice he’d receive from another shop owner, it included taking the local sales rep out to the front of his store and pointing at the sign saying “you see who’s name is on the sign? Don’t forget who owns it and who decides what goes on inside those doors.” I won’t forget, that’s for sure.