Bike culture in St. Augustine

By Bo Culkeen |
Top Photo by Josh Weaver; Bottom Photo by David Castagno

The latest trend in St. Augustine isn’t tight jeans, neon v-necks or multicolored Ray-Bans. It’s bicycles.

Bicycles are blowing up the streets of St. Augustine like the Fourth of July and no one is holding anything back. Imagine Martha Stewart on an episode of West Coast Customs: Bicycle Editions. That’s basically what’s rolling around the streets of downtown.

Paige Denkin, Flagler College junior, has been pedaling a single speed, fixed-gear street bike for a couple months now.

“It cost me about $450 but I ride it as much as possible and on a daily basis,” Denkin said. “Biking is great exercise and it’s an environmentally-friendly alternative to gas-guzzling cars polluting the air. Cars are unnecessary in such a small town like St. Augustine.”

Rob Schanz, Flagler junior, rides a fixed-gear bike that he built from scratch.

“It’s all about riding and having fun with your friends and just tweaking parts on your bike,” Schanz said. “The bike culture, to me, isn’t really about being big and popular; it’s a small group of people, at least the ones who aren’t just buying their bikes to look cool.”

Street bikes however are only the tip of the iceberg.

Adam Lang, Flagler alumnus, takes his bike to an extreme.

“My whole bike is custom,” Lang said. “I bought everything in pieces and put it all together myself. I even had some things specially made.”

Lang rides a double bike, which is a bike frame on top of another bike frame. It doesn’t look easy to ride but Lang makes it look as easy as riding a bike, pun intended.

“I get looks sometimes when I tell people how much I spent on my bike, but I remind them that it’s my only mode of transportation,” Lang said. “All in all I have around $1200 invested in my bike”

These crazy double bikes can’t be bought in stores, yet.

Josh “Caveman” Sparks and Max Perini are two aspiring entrepreneurs who want to help the rise of the crazy bike.

“We’re thinking about calling the company RideAtYourOwnRisk,” Sparks said. “We will build, sell and repair bikes. Building and repairing bikes is something that we both love to do and we share a passion for it.”

It’s not easy putting one of these bikes together. Sparks’ chopper-style bike is about 10 feet long and the handle bars reach over the 5 foot marker. Perini’s bike is just as big.

At the front “rake” of the bike is a large metal pole connecting the handlebars and the front tire. Welded to the pole is a crowbar that gives the bike stability. The two refer to this as “old school steel.”

“We usually get most of our supplies from junkyards so the only thing we pay for is the welding,” Perini said.

“St. Augustine is a great place for our business because of all the tourists,” Perini continued. “Someone from China could take a picture of a bike that we built and bring home that photo to show all of their friends and family. Or a welder could take our idea and start his own bike building business in his town.”

“We’ve got a lot of ideas we’re working on too,” Sparks added in. “We’re planning a type of tricycle bike and also a sidecar for some bikes. The possibilities are endless really.”

Whether it’s for style, a form of transportation or a method of exercise, the fishing pole of bikes has been cast and we are all hooked.

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