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Column: Bicycle shop has spirit of ‘old’ Buckhead
by Thornton Kennedy
Neighbor Newspapers Columnist
January 22, 2014 03:13 PM | 1428 views | 0 0 comments | 70 70 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thornton Kennedy
Thornton Kennedy
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Long before carbon-frame bikes and spandex-clad riders became ubiquitous on Buckhead’s roads, gangs of children roamed the neighborhoods on BMX bikes.

I was among them.

My two older brothers had 10-speeds. They were warped by movies like “Breaking Away” and “American Flyers,” in which heroes used the larger bicycles to beat the odds and win the girl. I was not fooled. I knew the surest way to success in life was to own a bicycle that could jump a crudely built backyard ramp consisting of a piece of plywood and a few bricks, that could ride down a steep dirt hill and survive multiple crashes on account of its heavy frame and thick tires.

On the front was a number and the crossbar was padded. These bikes were made for racing and crashing, and not in that order. We rode down Muskogee Avenue and Habersham Road and up Rivers and Peachtree roads, taking our bikes through any mud, construction sites and off any curb we could find.

As a result repairs were a near constant.

There was only one place to go: Peachtree Bikes.

Fixing flats and repairing broken chains were not big money makers for the local bicycle shop, but they always took care of us. At the time it was located in a former gas station and car repair shop, which is now Fellini’s Pizza. My meager allowance went straight to the bike shop on a near-weekly basis. Peachtree Bikes also has locations in Sandy Springs and at the Serenbe development in south Fulton County.

The news that Peachtree Bikes’ Buckhead location experienced a devastating fire Dec. 4 was shocking. On the one hand, we do not have many local businesses that have endured for longer than four decades. According to its website, it has been in operation since 1969. On the other hand, I felt a sadness and concern.

We all know how expensive real estate can be, and small, independent business owners who are still set up on Peachtree Road are a rare breed among the chain restaurants and shiny buildings. Peachtree Bikes, like Fellini’s, is among our few remaining links to the not-so-distant past.

We continued to support Peachtree Bikes over the years. We purchased our children’s bikes from the store and when we needed a repair, that is where we went.

To illustrate the importance and significance not just of this particular bike shop but of the type of service you get at these smaller businesses, I’ll tell a story on our daughter, Virginia. A few years ago she fell in love with a bicycle at one of the mega stores in town. No matter what we did, she always came back to this one particular bike. We bought it for a birthday. Within six months the thing fell apart. It wasn’t that it was a bad bicycle. It had simply been put together by people who have little experience building bikes. It would not be too different if I built it, and if that were the case I wouldn’t let any child ride it. We never had any such issues with Peachtree Bikes.

It has been announced that the shop is moving up Peachtree a bit to the old Brookhaven Buckhead Flowers. It is fitting that one of the last remaining businesses from that bygone era would occupy one of the last old houses on Peachtree.

Buckhead resident Thornton Kennedy is a sixth-generation Atlanta resident and a former news editor of this paper. He can be reached at thorntonkennedy@me.com.
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