Asheville – Where Weird Meets the Road

Hey there U.S.A Bike Commuters: yours truly, Mir.I.Am reporting from the good ol’ Southeast in Asheville, North Carolina! “Asheville?!” you say. “What the eff, Mir, I thought you were a Honolulu heat-stroke commuter!” Normally, you’d be as right as a Waikiki double rainbow, but the boyfriend and I have relocated to Asheville for ten weeks this summer.

Asheville Downtown

Asheville, not Nashville – Bike Lanes and friendly drivers compared to Honolulu. Oh yeah, the mountains and hills are whoopin my ass. Photo cred to chris_lanzarotti on flickr.

Shamefully, I must admit that my mainland geography knowledge is limited and underwhelming… a few months ago I was convinced that Asheville was actually Nashville but mispronounced, in a whole other state called “Tennessee”. Now I find myself in the midst of a quasi-Berkeley, CA in North Carolina. Complete with weirdos on tall bikes, organic farmer’s markets, and – as my local friend says – a strong whiff of patchouli in the air.

Tall bike Nun

Keep Asheville Weird: Yeah, this is the local nun on a tall bike riding through downtown AVL, photo creds to clarkmackey via flickr.

Little did I know that this bearded Smoky Mountain summer destination town would be full of all sorts of fun Cycle Ladies and Gents. I showed up a week ago bikeless yet again (is there such a site as debating if I should have my sister ship my orange bike from Cali or buy a used one here in town. We strolled over to the local Asheville Recyclery to check out their new-used rides:

AVL recyclery flyer

This laid back “volunteer-run community bike shop” is SO low-key – good luck finding them on the web!

The shop is located under the French Broad Food Co-Op, in a garage-like spot with a mural on the front. The bikes are made up of local donations. You can build your own for free or buy a shop-built ride if they have one in your size.

AVL recyclery entrance

All my inner hippie-in-denial dreams come true: organic produce stacked on top of used bikes! I nominate this building as the epitome of Mir-ness in all of Asheville!!!

Apparently these crazy folks operate on ZERO FUNDING and are not a typical non-profit with a board of important peeps, just local bike lovers keepin’ it real… a.k.a. real cheap! I almost needed a pair of
Oops I Crapped My Pants when the shop guys told me I could have a Frankenbike for only $40 (or like 20 ChickenBiscuit things from Bojangles). Asheville Recyclery for the win…!

avl recyclery Bianchi Mir

**GASP** A Bianchi Frankenbuild just my size for only forty dolla-I-make-a-you-holla!? “Impossible,” you say. “Wrong” I reply, “anything is possible in AsheVegas.”

Oh southern hospitality is where it’s at folks. Helmets for $10, cable combo locks for $5, smiles and bike advice for free… what more could a cycle lady want? Maybe a power stance with my new summer commuting stallion in front of the Recyclery Logo? That could work:

AVL recyclery mir

It’s time to get real, Ashevillans. I be on your hills like ALL DAY! TGIGGG: Thanks Goodness It’s Got Granny Gears!

Or maybe a $6 pulled pork plate from a BBQ joint that happens to be a Presidential favorite?

pork plate

That’ll do, pig. That’ll do. Skippyhaha on flickr.

Guys, I feel like a complete Cycle Lady again with my new Frankenbike. The free Mejor en Bici bike share in Buenos Aires was good enough at the time, and the bike tours with Biking Buenos Aires made up for my bikeless butt envy… but nothing beats your very own commuter beater sitting pretty on your back porch. If you’re in Asheville, keep an eye out for a suspicious looking asian girl climbing hills in super low gears. She may be after your Sweet Tea. I’ll leave you lovely Bike Commuters with a final image from my local commute:



  1. Ghost Rider

    I LOVE it! I had no idea Asheville was a hippy-happenin’ place (I do know it is a popular “halfback” destination for retirees from my years in Floriduh).

    And SO HAPPY to see a Bianchi Frankenbike. Welcome back to the two-wheeled fold, Mir!

  2. BluesCat

    Must be sumthin’ in the water, eh? If they could ONLY find out what it is, maybe they could make it spread to ALL of the Confederate states! 😀

  3. RL

    Wow super interesting place. Loved the last photo! You can make a shirt out of that design.

  4. Ghost Rider

    I want a tshirt of Mir in her “Superstar” pose over that design. I would rock that 24/7.

  5. Mir.I.Am

    Woot! Yeah, it’s a liberal hotspot in the region… Just glad to have a set of wheels I can cll my own… Bike name reccomendations? Maybe “Frankianchi!?”

  6. Mir.I.Am

    @Ghost- what’s a Floridian “halfback” anyway!?

  7. Ghost Rider

    I wrote a really disparaging bit on “halfbacks”, and then IE crashed, so I will just leave you this link:

    Basically, it’s a Yankee who retires to Florida, gets tired of the bugs and heat and moves back north, only not back to Michigan or New York but to North Carolina, where they embrace their inner desire to collect “rustic, homespun character”.

  8. bigbenaugust

    Asheville seems a little weirder than Carrboro or Chapel Hill. We do have a Recyclery here, though… I just haven’t been yet. Too busy working or fixing the house still. 🙂

  9. Raiyn

    @ Ghost
    First: That just shows what you get for trusting IE.

    Second: As for the the Halfback thing… I’ve been a resident of this state for about half of my life so far. I feel that I’ve dealt with the heat, the bugs, the freaking hellacious storms, the insurance hikes, the psychotic drivers and the idiotic politics long enough.
    My better half doesn’t realize how serious I am about this yet, but soon as I can swing it we’re outta here. Sadly, that’s likely to involve hitting the damn Lottery in order to split anytime soon.
    The other consideration I have to make is that my native born Floridian better half would certainly be the first to tell you that “her nail beds turn blue below 70°F” so returning to my home state of MN is almost definitely a non-starter which would leave us in that “halfway” zone.
    While I didn’t retire here, and in fact came here as a young man, I can’t blame others for coming to essentially the same conclusion that I have.

    Asheville sounds like a fine place “Halfback” haven or not.

    Ain’t mad at ya Jack, just showing the other side of the coin.

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