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:


About the author

Bike monkey commuting in Honolulu, Hawaii - rain, shine, or tsunami! I don't have a car - if i did I would perpetuate Asian woman driver stereotypes.... so I stick to two wheels and bumming rides of friends, daBus, and the roomie's "Dingo" Jeep. Plus I am cheap (perpetuating other Chinese stereotypes) and green (perpetuating architectural obsession of this generation) and too lazy to work out a the gym! BIKES FOR LIFE!