Today was an inspiring day for this rakish rider. I was in Denver this morning and after a little research decided to take a walk and check out Chocolate Spokes, which turned out to be a truly inspirational experience. The founder of Chocolate spokes is Gregory Crichlow, formerly an architect he became a bike shop owner and custom frame builder a few years ago when the economy turned south and has managed to build something truly special.
As we were sharing our respective stories he paused to think of the name of a book…and before he even uttered the first syllable I knew what he was going to say. The book is “Shop Class as Soulcraft” and it literally changed my life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate for the past decade or so to have a great job and to work very closely with spectacular people, many of whom have become close friends, but in the back of my mind I’ve always had this lingering feeling I was also meant to be doing something entirely different…gradually, with the help of the people closest to me, and sometimes total strangers, I am figuring out exactly what that thing is.
As a former architect and long time resident Gregory knew a lot of the history of the neighborhood we were in and of Denver in general. Our hour long long conversation about everything from bikes to architecture, to civic history to chocolate was a great example of what happens when two kindred spirits cross paths and Gregory was incredibly generous with his time, knowledge and his expertise.
Gregory apprenticed under Yamaguchi and Chris cole to learn the craft of frame building and although he is just getting started already has a handful of orders for his custom built frames, however he also realized quickl after opening his shop that what was really needed was the classic neighborhood bike shop that could do basic tuning and repairs and keep local cyclists running.
A is often the case for entrepreneurs the current demand for products or services is not always aligned with your vision of where you want to go. T Gregory’s credit we was civilly minded enough to recognize that the neighborhood needed a bike shop more than it needed a custom frame builder, at least for now, so adjusted his plan and made it work. Classic creative persona.
We discussed the history of the neighborhood and of Denver and how it was one of only two cities that were at one point in history openly run by the KkK. The other being Indianapolis where my family is originally from. We talked about how “race street”, which was parallel with his shop, was literally a divider that marked where people of color could live Vs. where they could not.
After giving me a tour of his original shop and frame building area, and educating me about, bike building,, metallurgy, the history of Denver and the neighborhood and artisinal chocolate, as well s turning me on to some of his fine stash, we walked next door to check out his newly expanded shop, thanks to his partnership with TJ, who was handling the bike repairs and maintenance, as well as ski and board tuning, so that Gregory would be able to focus on frame building and fulfilling the backlog of orders he already has.
TJ hs his own stash of cruisers downstairs and as we were talking about the merits of various handlebar designs and hand positions pointed put his daily driver Schwinn Collegiate with the stock bars and how perfectly natural and comfortable to the hand position on the bars was.
Below are a few of my other shots of the neighborhood. Including an interesting lot behind a place called Nate’s Imports, surly worth a visit on my next trip to Denver