By Rosee Woodland, BikeRadar.com
Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has plans in the works to open a bike shop in his home town of Austin, Texas. Dubbed Mellow Johnny's, after Armstrong's nickname for the leader's jersey he wore seven times, the 18,000 sq foot store is aimed at getting more people riding Austin.
Armstrong will cater to serious road racers with top end Trek bikes, similar to those Armstrong rode on his seven consecutive Tour de France victories, but also wants the shop to have wide appeal. He has plans to sell mountain bikes, commuter bikes, fixed wheels, low riders, handmade one-offs, and triathlon bikes.
With an eye on helping to turn Austin into a cycling city, in the same vein as Portland, Oregon, Armstrong says the shop will provide lockers and showers for Austin's bike commuters, and offer coffee as well as the usual gear and repair services. In fact, Armstrong predicts that Mellow Johnny's will be "the coolest bike shop in the world".
But, despite his mammoth plans, he insists he doesn't want to see off Austin's smaller bike shops. "It's not us versus them," he told the Austin American Statesman. "We're all about the cycling culture."
But he admits there's a lot of work to be done first on improving conditions for the area's cyclists. "There are times I ride in Austin, and I'm afraid of cars," Armstrong admitted. "Imagine what the beginner cyclist must feel like? I think (Mayor) Will Wynn's dream was this whole revitalization of downtown, which we're getting, but it's going to make it a lot easier if people can get around on bikes."
Although it's some way from opening, a vacant 1950s building has been earmarked for the project and local architect Michael Hsu has created a master plan. Work on site started in February and is expected to go on through the summer.
The store is just north of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a path that will cut east-west through downtown Austin.