Summer is here and with it, road trips! On our recent romp throughout the American West, we found ourselves driving through the little town of Dolores, Colorado to refuel. Along the highway was a peculiar outpost, accompanied by an even more peculiar sign. A massive, handmade lizard, constructed from sprockets and other bicycle parts, commanding my attention as both a closet herp freak and an overt cycling freak. What on earth was this place?
I left Cari to walk Max, our dog, grabbed my rangefinder and headed towards the entrance to Lizard Head Cyclery. Noting the door’s sign to not let the cats out, I might have hastily opened and shut the door, causing a bit of an arrival cacophony. Nicholas, the owner, was spoke-wrenching on a customer’s wheel, in the midst of a tubeless conversion, while Stephen, a sponsored racer for the shop was lounging with the shop’s cats.
A quick examination of the space and it was obvious what Nicholas’ approach to the business model of the local bike shop was. After a brief discussion, he summed it up with “First, I’ll try to repair your bike, then, if that doesn’t work, I’ll find a used part to sell you. If neither of those work, I’ll sell you a new part. I’m not in the business of selling people new bikes or parts. We have so many used parts here and so many of our customers are just looking for a way to get around town.”
When I asked what his most common repair is, he noted “tubeless tires.”
Lizard Head is close to Phil’s World, a rocky section of mountain bike trails in neighboring Cortez, Colorado and even the neighboring trails of Dolores, Colorado are plenty rocky. Since the advent of tubeless technology, Nicholas is replacing fewer and fewer flat tires and converting most people’s setup to alleviate the burden of pinch flats and snake bites.
Speaking of reptiles, Nicholas loves the horned lizard. It’s his shop’s mascot. He built the roadside attraction construction out front, as well as numerous other metal sculptures in town. He also restored a 1900’s mining shovel for a customer, blueing the steel and torching the handle to keep this 100+ year old tool in working order.
Shops like Lizard Head Cyclery might not have all the flash of other modern shops but it has a patina that comes from years of supporting the community and putting the customer first above all else. Oh and he repairs skis too! After 30 minutes of poking around the shop, Nicholas got busy with customers. I didn’t have a chance to get a portrait of him with one of his cats but felt like what I captured was an uncurated look into his shop’s daily operations.
Lizard Head Cyclery
350 Railroad Ave
Tues: 9:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Wed – Sun: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM