Rad People Who Ride: Walter Hubbard and Fresh Air Bicycles
23 July, 2013
Fresh Air Bicycles in San Francisco is a shop that exudes cool. There’s almost an air of the close-knit vibe that a true skate shop or surf shop somehow purports and embodies. You can feel it upon entering, almost as though a wave of it has washed over you stepping through the door. You feel as though you are part of a tribe as you immediately see people who live and breathe bicycles. I don’t mean to give the wrong impression here – this is a welcoming bike shop extending open arms to all who come, helping customers to the fullest, it’s just that you can tell it’s cool. You’d want to let people know that you frequent here, want to be able to say you hang out here.
Hidden throughout the shop are gems. There’s a Salsa stem hanging on the wall, handmade in Petaluma, a folding WTB Velociraptor, harking back to the good ol’ days, a copy of From Repack to Rwanda (awesome,) and then a whole host of cutting edge goodies – Garmins, carbon frames, cross bikes, local track bikes… you name it. It’s rare to find a meld of historic and on the brink of current and techy existing harmoniously under one roof. It’s worth a visit.
An awesome, historic book and a Garmin heart rate monitor strap sitting next to each other on the counter, happily. Amazing.
Travis and Walter run the show and love to ride. Walter was kind enough to share his WTB story with us, so please read on and enjoy it as well as some fun shots from the shop.
Home Shop and City:
Fresh Air Bicycles
Favorite WTB or Freedom product:
Or, favorite WTB or Freedom related memory (please elaborate):
When I was a kid, I always had the jankiest, most cobbled-together BMX bikes and always found myself really jealous of other kids with nicer bikes. When I got my first bike shop job in 1998, I overcompensated for my childhood shortcomings and built up a DK General Lee. The shop where I worked (which shall remain nameless) had this stainless WTB Rocket V saddle in the back that had come stock on a nicer mountain bike of some sort. So, it made its way onto my bike and irrespective of a very brief and ill-advised foray into the late 90s giant dirt jumping couch saddle trend, it remained on that and all following bikes until 2010.
I have a buddy who does some very practical ministry work with the homeless population in Golden Gate Park, and I helped him build up a longbike which he uses to transport an entire portable kitchen from the Mission to the Park every week to make pancakes for the street kids. Every time he saw that Rocket V, which had by then migrated onto a fixed gear bike he commented on it, so when we found that he only needed a seat to complete his longbike build, I took it off of my bike and put it on his when I was putting the finishing touches on it in my garage one night. He was surprised I let go of it, but more than surprised, he was stoked because I touted its benefits for so long and loved it less than gently before sending it down the road. I miss it, but no one deserves it more than him. He’s a much better person than I am.
Petaluma baby, thank you Ross Shafer. Like what you see? Find this and more coveted beautiful parts within the shop.
The one-way downhill from Hawk Hill to Fort Cronkhite.
Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
I used to terrorize my neighborhood on a piece of crap BMX bike, then I terrorized local trails and skateparks on a better BMX bike, and now I terrorize myself on a cyclocross bike whenever and wherever.
Tube or Tubeless, why?
Depends on the application. I haven’t gone down this road yet, but mostly out of fear since I’ve cut more sidewalls than I care to mention.
3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
Spare tube(s), CO2 inflator, multi-tool, tire levers, food, water, $20 and an ID. Oops - you said three...
Now where'd I put that Stages Power meter for my crank? Travis, keeping it all together on the sales floor. Check out the Low handmade in SF track frame on the wall - a little bit of everything.
Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
Mating elk in Washington State, and a compound fracture in Southern California. Both were pretty gross.
Most important lesson to teach the groms?
You don’t need carbon wheels or any other fancy parts to be fast. The only thing that makes you faster is riding your bike more.
Travis, posing as master of the phones - yet another day on the phones for Travis.
Left my wallet in… (fill it in):
Thankfully, I’ve never left my wallet anywhere I didn’t intend. I probably will now - thanks a LOT!
Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
With 30 years of combined bike industry experience between the two of us, we at Fresh Air Bicycles would like to encourage anyone seeking a solid local bike shop to give us a shot. We take a very holistic approach to both sales and service, and our bottom line is your happiness and your bike’s flawless function. 1943 Divisadero (x California) -- next to the yarn store, so you can crochet us hats while we fix your stuff.