Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bike Shop Review: Angry Catfish

See upcoming post about the Surly Moonlander if you want to read more about the reason I was at the Angry Catfish.


Let me start by saying how lucky I am to live in a city where there are plenty of bicycle shops.  I pass at least 3 on the way to work.  I go to different shops for different items, and I have some clear favorites locally.

There is an interesting dynamic with bike shops.  You must learn who you trust at the shop.  There are few shops that I haven't been in when I was younger only to think "I'm never going in there again".  Now I understand the LBS must be attended with a discerning eye.  Know what you want and talk to the person you click with.  There are some great shop workers, don't let 1-2 bad ones (that probably don't last) color your overall experience.

Given all that, it was difficult for me to pass up all the local shops when I heard the guys at Angry Catfish post about pre-ordering Moonlanders.

I put a few feelers out locally, but no one had the same certainty those guys had.  In hindsight, I may have received my Moonlander a day or 2 early (or not).  But it is all about the crazy desire to own new cool toys first.  And of course, about the stories you can tell.  (We won't segway here to "why the Moonlander is my midlife crisis vehicle")

Also, I want to say that I enjoy buying from a local bike shop.  Occasionally, there are some ridiculously cheap things available on the Inter-webs and I just can not justify buying local at 2x the price.  But such deals are not the norm for me.

Bikes at Angry Catfish

I would be remiss if I suggested this was some sort of in-depth store review.  I went for one thing.  My anticipation level for the product was high.  I took a quick, dazed look around, an headed home.

That said, these guys did many things right.  If you're upset I didn't buy from you, take a few tips.

First, how did I hear about them?  The sell bikes and coffee, what's not to like?  If I recall right, they managed to get my attention via twitter or similar social media.  Most likely via some retweet from Twinsix (more cool bike folks).

Second, they really responded to their on-line requests, and promptly.  Look, how many bike shops have you emailed and gotten in depth, prompt help?  Many, many shops are on-line, but I have been doing this whole "Internet thing" since the mid-90's.  I have developed extremely high expectations of on-line presences.  These expectations may be overblown for bike shops.  It is easy to see how/why a bike shop owner would focus on running the bike shop vs. responding to emails.  I'm here to say though, that for me, the "responding to emails" thing worked.

They had me at, "we'll get you the bike in December."  But they won me over with the consistent, prompt responses.

Alright, I've overcooked the word "prompt".  Let's just say I'm impressed.  In a world of great bike shops, these guys were the right thing at the right time for me.

But wait, there's more.


A little history.  I don't consider myself a coffee snob.  I know what I like.

I started really enjoying espresso drinks around the time that Alterra Lakefront hit the map.  Prior to that, I had enjoyed a Starbucks here and there, but didn't really "get" what the big deal was.

At some point, I was noticing a clear distinction in coffee from the local Alterra.  I chalked it up to personal preference.  One day a friend had sent me some coffee competition links, and I recognized the barista from the local Alterra on the podium.  A-ha!  No wonder.  These guys take it seriously. Side note, all the folks on the podium were either from Alterra or Intelligentsia.

Back to Angry Catfish coffee.   It turns out they serve Intelligentsia coffee.  Cool bikes + the possibility of coffee I will truly enjoy.

Here's how it went down.  I asked if there was something special they made.  AC suggested a "sea salt mocha".   I went for it.  Rule #1 in dining is "order what's in the name of the restaurant".  I wasn't in the mood for catfish, but the corollary is "order the specialty" (but maybe not the special).

Here's where I pull out the "not a coffee snob" bit.  I can't really tell you the nuances of flavor or robustness ratings.  It fit my description for "really good coffee drink".  The sea salt mocha was an interesting change of pace.


If you like bicycles or coffee, and find yourself in the neighborhood, I highly recommend a venture past Angry Catfish.  If you like both, it's time for a road trip!


I wasn't promised anything special for this review.   I just hope it helps a good shop's business.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dusting Off The Old Blog


It has been a while since I have had the time or inclination to write something out here.  I want to say that I have either been too busy to do a writeup of the great things going on, or it has been much of the same. ( in a way, both )

On with it then, I have hit a worthy cause for peeling open the blog again (translation, I'm pumped).  Kick back, this might take a minute.

How Did I get here?

It all started a couple of months years back.  I was going out and reading a bit of   Somehow I ended up looking at pictures of double rimmed Surly bikes at Arrowhead 135. A seed was planted.

Back when I was doing Ironman training, I vividly recall the weekend snow rides I would do in the winter.  A couple days in the basement on the trainer and I would be raring to get outside even if it was just to slide around in the snow for an hour.  It was good for my demeanor.  My mountain bike at the time was only loosely equipped for the job.

Cut to about a year ago.  A whole pile of my buddies who previously had not seen use for a fat bike, went in on a bushel (or some seemingly large quantity) of Pugsley frames and secretly built them up, hidden in their workshops/basements.  Then one day, "look what we found! They are so fun!"

Here's where the timing gets better for me.  At some point this year, Surly announced a Moonlander.  I was immediately hooked by the name, paint, fatness and really just the whole package.  A couple months back I notice Angry Catfish bicycles + coffee says "we can put you on the list" or some such. I put a few feelers out to the local guys, but no one seemed as certain as those guys.  Maybe they know Surly, and maybe they are just good marketers ( apologies in advance if I just offended the Angry Catfish guys by possibly attributing marketing skills to them ).  Anyway, the release date was close enough to a birthday of mine, that I started calling in favors.

... Skip the part about shaking nervously / excitedly for a couple months while waiting ...

Through the magic of the Internet and a really patient shop owner at Angry Catfish, we worked out the painstaking details.  I plan to write a separate post about what a great job they did.  ( We'll skip the pickup / awesome shop experience for now in the interest of - ahem - shortening this post ).

Cut to Sunday.  The extra large Moonlander has pedals, and is ready for it's maiden voyage.  But wait a minute.  Let me just take time out to say that the XL Moonlander is on the order of one of the biggest bicycles I have seen.  I am at least 6'3" and time has long passed since I have gotten on a bike and even considered there was such a thing as "stand over height".  Any pictures you have seen do not do the Moonlander justice.

What did I think? (a.k.a. The Ride - a.k.a. Pics or It Didn't Happen)

We'll skip right over the flat I got (and walk home because I hadn't chosen a bike pump yet).

Do not ask me to compare it to the other fat bikes, I haven't ridden them enough to say.  All I can tell you is it is an incredible joy to ride.  I loved biking already, but this bike puts a smile on your face from the moment you look at it.  Once you are riding, it's difficult not to just laugh out loud.

In my opinion, this bike (or perhaps fat bikes in general) are game changers toward the vein of "just biking".  There was no triathlon to train for, no group ride where I was just trying to hang on.  It was me on a bike riding down the beach in 40 F temperatures in the wee hours of the morning.  I was listening to the waves crash on the beach and just soaking it all in.

Very relaxing.  I am now waiting anxiously for snow.

OK then, one more shot without the flat.

I will try to cajole someone into riding with me so I can get a shot of me on the bike.