Going to a bike shop has never been a drop off-and-pick up deal for me. I do not own a car, so ever since I started riding, going for a repair meant I’d ride/walk my bike and hang about in the shop while the mechanic took care of whatever needed attention. This developed into a habit: lurk around at bike shops every time I went to one, which was received in different ways depending on the place I’d go to, since I’d want to see and learn from what was being done while at the same time try not to annoy the person working, a balance hard to achieve.
Last September me and my partner Karla were spending a couple of weeks stationed in Lava Hot Springs in southeast Idaho and I decided I wanted a new frame color for my traveling bike to celebrate that I got it one year ago. A friend tells me of Oregon Trail Bikes and a couple of DMs later I’m riding the 40 miles from Lava to Pocatello to talk to the owner, Adam Artner, in person. When I got there I opened the door of the shop and the first thing I saw was a couple of stools in a bar that looks right into the work area and a cushy 2-person couch next to them. Now that’s what I’m talking about, I thought. On the floor, there were several Salsa, Orbea, and Transition models but I wouldn’t notice that till later.
Adam and his partner Kaitlyn moved from Oregon to Pocatello at the beginning of this year and he thought he could bring a bit of the vibe he got familiar with during his years of mountain biking and working in shops in Bend and Jacksonville, Oregon. That, combined with the fact that Pocatello sits where the historic wheeled wagon route used to pass by, and you come up with a fitting name for the shop.
Oregon Trail Bikes opened its doors a snowy day of February; nobody showed up. But by the time the sun shone Adam had already managed to acquire a spot in the local biking community, and the hours I sat there I saw a constant flow of folk who would be greeted by their name bringing or picking up all kinds of bikes; I even witnessed him trading an Orbea cargo bike for 90 meals from the sandwich shop up the street.
Hanging around in the shop was bicycle bag maker Sophie (@sophsmagoats), who introduced herself when she heard that Karla was looking for a frame bag for her Krampus, preferably made locally and by a woman, so serendipity took care of that.
On our last visit to the shop and with our bikes freshly overhauled, Adam, Karla and I went on a ride with the intention of having a little taste of the City Creek Trails, a network of about 50 miles of mixed-use trails sitting in the mountains that surround Pocatello, but with the little time we had we only managed to make it up a hill, see a group of deer at sunset, and freeze our hands on the ride down. Still, the trails are available there for anybody passing through the area, and so is Oregon Trail Bikes.