Since Wallyâ€™s Bicycle Shop first rolled up its metal door at 306 Higuera last November, owner Wally Ajanel has been busy just keeping up with his customersâ€™ demands. With its polished cement floors lined with towering bicycle racks, and stacks of hanging tubes, Wallyâ€™s is unmistakably a working shop doubling as a show room. A comfy, tired looking couch close to the door hints at a more laid-back, community- oriented side of Wallyâ€™s, a shop built on the concept that
- PHOTO BY CHRIS GARDNER
- BIKE LANE : Wally Ajanel is bringing bikes to the community.
Ajanelâ€™s been working on bikes since he was a kid in Guatemala, and in local shops for decades; for him, owning a shop is the realization of a longtime goal. When the opportunity presented itself for Wally to open his own shop, it was a no-brainer, â€œI had some savings, and I just thought, I have to do this.â€? he explains. Even if owning his shop is a dream, itâ€™s still a lot of hard work; these days, Wally is working longer hours and sleeping less. To this Wally shrugs, â€œI love it.â€?
Close to Wallyâ€™s own workstation, at the back of the store, a table is set up for customers to work on their own bikes. Part of the fun of bicycling is tuning your own bike. Unfortunately, many budding bike enthusiasts donâ€™t have access to tools or a place to pull a bike apart and put it back together. You can buy your parts at Wallyâ€™s andâ€”with access to the right tools and teacherâ€”learn how to put it all together. Wally doesnâ€™t just want to sell you a bike; he wants to turn you into a bicyclist. â€œWhen somebody buys a bike, I show them how to work on it. At least they should know how to change a tube.â€? The beauty of bicycles is their accessibility: nearly anyone can get a bike, can learn how to work on it and go just about anywhere.
Wally does special orders, but mostly, he sells the Fuji, DeRosa and Marin brands and offers road bikes, mountain bikes, cruisers (with or with out training wheels), even trikes. For Wally, every bike is fun, with a unique character and its own set of challenges, but he thinks the most exciting to work on are the most innovative. â€œI enjoy the racing bikes. Itâ€™s very satisfying when a bike you work on wins first or second place.â€? If youâ€™re not a pro, and you just want a great bike without spending a whole lot of cash, you can buy a quality used bike; a custom rebuilt bike with a light and a lock goes for around $200. Wally does consignment and trade-ins too.
On the south-facing wall of the shop, a mural of Lake Atitlan, close to where he grew up in Guatemala, covers wall to ceiling, a reminder of where he comes from, and for the rest of us, where we could go. â€œIâ€™m so glad Iâ€™m working on bikes,â€? he says, reiterating the benefits, and the rewards from sharing his trade. â€œYou get people exercising and you get some people who want to learn how to work on bikes and learn the trade, [even if] they know thereâ€™s no money in it.â€?Â
May is bike month, so if youâ€™ve already blown your New Yearâ€™s resolution to get healthy, make a bike month resolution to get moving and see the Central Coast from a new perspective in the bike lane. Stop by Wallyâ€™s Mon.â€“Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. If you canâ€™t stop, ring your bell when you ride by. Info: 544-4116.
This weekâ€™s Strokes and Plugs was compiled by Kylie Mendonca. If you need a stroke or a plug, send your business news to email@example.com.