Washington Revolution Cycles Rides RAAM Waves | Local News
Revolution Cycles closed the book on Another Race Across America (RAAM).
The store – which was Time Stop 34 in the race – became a checkpoint for runners and their teams in the Continental Race 13 years ago, but over the past twelve years RAAM has become an event for Joe Ferguson, owner of Revolution. Cycles, and its employees.
Prior to the founding of Revolution, the only bicycle store in the area was Scenic Cycles in Marthasville. It served as the area’s RAAM stop from 2003 to 2008. The store closed, leading to a bicycle store-sized hole in the area. Eventually, Ferguson got tired of driving in St. Louis to a bicycle store and decided to open his own. Six months later, after being fired from his finance job, Ferguson decided to work full time in the shop.
Now, 13 years later, Ferguson manages a team of volunteers and staff to provide 24-hour service to RAAM riders and their crews. Located 2,000 miles from the grueling 3,000-mile run, Revolution is the perfect place for runners to stop, take a break and make repairs.
Usually teams have their own movement mechanics, but they will stop at Revolution for more complicated fixes. For this reason, Erik Ferguson, the Service Manager at Revolution, will keep a bench open and ready to completely demolish a bike if he needs to.
“A team will come in and their chain has broken or” Hey, my derailleur (a bicycle mechanism that allows riders to change gears) has broken “, or” I have a shift lever that doesn’t work “or whatever it is, and they ‘scooter,” Erik Ferguson said. “They’re in a rush, so they want the repairs done.”
Mechanic Blase Haberberger said that during RAAM things can go from super calm to chaos in an instant as Revolution Cycles is one of 10 out of 53 manned time stations in the entire race and is one of both stops at or near a bike shop.
Often times, the Revolution team is tasked with taking a bike apart to clean and lubricate it to make sure it performs well on the last 1,000 miles of asphalt, which is easier to do on a bench. specialized only in the back of a motorhome. But sometimes repairs can take more than a few hours. At least twice, a team entered after their support van dug into a wall or pole, crushing the bikes onto their backs. It’s an expensive fix, said Joe Ferguson, with each bike costing several thousand dollars.
Sometimes Revolution Cycles doesn’t have the right part or tool that a team needs. In these cases, Joe Ferguson will send the team to Big Shark Bicycle Co. in St. Louis or Ballwin Cycles in the hope that they can haul what the team needs.
The race this year was much smaller than usual due to the pandemic. International runners, who make up the majority of the competition, have faced travel restrictions, forcing them to stay at home. The muted event was disappointing, but it was almost a relief for Joe Ferguson’s staff and volunteers after such hectic races before. He said this has also led to fewer hate incidents against runners, a persistent problem.
“We don’t get an increase in business because of it,” said Joe Ferguson. “It really has an equal positive and negative effect on the community because a lot of people who are excited about it (say)“ Hey, that’s cool. And then there are a lot of people who are pissed off because ‘Hey, I have to wait for a guy on my bike on my way to work for three, four or five minutes.’ “
So Revolution had a smaller event than usual, but Joe Ferguson is hoping to be back full in the next year. Usually he goes out of his way, renting a pool and barbecuing on site. Pepsi donated a trailer to use this year, and the hospital provided a large barrel misting fan to keep everyone cool. The YMCA, Super 8 and Starcrest cleaners also provide services and facilities for racing teams so that they can shower, rest and wash their clothes.
Revolution has developed a reputation among the participants as a sort of oasis on the ride. Employees began to recognize many faces from past shopping in the store. Former team members even started coming out of the race just to say hello. Runners used to seeing the landscape go by at an average of 21 mph sometimes return and resume the course more slowly, stopping at Revolution just for the sake of tradition.
Joe Ferguson remembers when a race official walked into Revolution Cycles 13 years ago and asked if he was interested in organizing a time stop. He knew very little about RAAM, he said, but he thought, “Why not? This is the same fundamental reason he founded Revolution.
“I am a facilitator,” he said. “That’s what I tell people. As a store owner, I am a facilitator. I let people go for a ride and have a good time. And it allows them to enjoy their run, fix their things and give them a place to stop and have fun.