Name: Paul Rinehart
Occupation: owner and manager of The Spoke
How long have you lived in the Williamstown area?
Did you open the Spoke?
When was it opened?
1977. I bought it in ’84.
Who came up with the name?
The previous owner.
How much cycling do you yourself do?
A lot to a little.
When and how did you get started?
Racing, primarily. In 1972, I had my first bike shop job.
Does most of your business come from the College?
Not even close.
What is your relationship to the Williams cycling team?
We invented the Williams Cycling team. A non-sarcastic answer to that is that we help them out as much as we possibly can. . .which takes the form of, like gravity magnets like the Wiedowers [haggling over pronunciation ensued]. . .Well, when there’s a race, there are inevitably crashes and the crash stand is probably something we help them out with more than anything else. It’s a disappointment to me that I don’t sell more bicycles to [the team] because they rely on me as a source of information, probably more straight answers than they could get anywhere else.
But if you go home for break and your parents are there and that’s where the money is, you end up buying the bike at home. So I try not to begrudge them for that and we support them in any way that we can.
Campus Security officers ride bikes now. . .do you have anything to do with their bikes?
Campus Security asked us to bid on their bikes, but they ended up getting some bikes from a company that isn’t even in business anymore and we couldn’t help them with that.
Are road bikes or mountain bikes currently more popular?
Well, just on pure numbers – mountain bikes, but road bikes have been enjoying a huge increase recently. Honestly, the true enthusiasts, people walking in the door to buy really cool new stuff nowadays are more likely to buy road bikes. The last four bikes we sold were road bikes.
What’s the worst biking experience you’ve ever had?
Luckily, I’ve never broken any bones or anything like that. I’ve hit numerous car doors and stuff like that. There’s the occasional road rager, but worst cycling experience involves long long rides when you’re on your 125th or 150th mile and you just want to sit by the side of the road and fall asleep or suck your thumb or wish your mom was around. The most miserable experiences involve being cold and wet.
What’s the best?
I rode cross-country in 1980. We did over 4,600 miles – two other bicycle shop employees and myself. That was an experience that I can say to anybody, “Make the time to do it.” Everybody should ride cross-country.
What’s the funniest or strangest story you’ve ever heard from a customer?
My favorite was a local guy who bought a bike computer and he stuck it on his bicycle and then came in telling us that he was going to go pro, that he was clearly the best thing that ever hit the world of cycling. He had hit a peak of 72 miles per hour and he believed the numbers he was seeing. He just hadn’t programmed the computer correctly. We let him continue thinking that.
What’s the worst wrecked bike you’ve ever seen or repaired?
Tom LaRoca bought a used bike from Steve Hibbard that was in a major crash where the whole rear triangle was bent sideways into the rear… We managed just to bend that thing back to straight and to make it a rideable bike, so that was a pretty amazing thing. We certainly didn’t expect to be able to do that. Tom actually owns that thing, which means it’s around and you can check it out.
I’ve heard rumors that you’d like to move to Spring Street. . .any truth in that or any plans?
There is some truth and this is the truth: not all the way to Spring Street. We’d like to move to the corner of Water Street and Main Street. And the process of bank financing and moving is taking forever, but certainly it’s been a dream of mine.