Not Just for Anybody - Just for You

there’s a new bike shop on the block

Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

What does it take to help a cyclist enjoy their best ride yet? It might involve a fitting, a few repairs, or perhaps some coaching. Or maybe it means a few hours of rest enjoyed with a good book before hitting the road.

Whatever it takes, Eric Johnson can provide it at his new shop, Not Just Anybody’s Bikes & Books (416 Gray St., Eau Claire). “You’re not just anybody,” Eric said of his customers. “You’re not just anybody to me, you’re the only one I’m focusing on right now.”

Eric is a certified bicycle fitter, mechanic, and coach. He worked with the U.S. Olympic road race team for several training camps as a mechanic. In 2012, he won the Clydesdale Cross Country Midwest Regional Mountain Bike Championship. In part, the Clydesdale class, a competitive division for athletes who weigh more than 200 pounds, reignited the 6-foot-4-inch shopkeeper’s love for the sport and affirmed his path in fitting.

In a sport led competitively by 5-foot-8-inch, 150-pound bikers, finding a place to fit in – and the right fit in equipment – can make all the difference. Fittings are personal and thorough, and involve a long pedal on top of a meticulously leveled platform in the center of the shop.

Eric watches the ride, looking for indications that a seat should be raised or lowered, that the handlebars should be adjusted, or whether some tilt is necessary. He uses a special seat to determine the best posterior-placement equipment. “To really boil it down simply, all I care about is where the pedals, the saddle, and the hands are,” Eric said. It’s a calculus that takes about eight pages of paperwork to perfect for each person, or even each purpose, from toodling to touring.

Eric has been in the bike business for more than 20 years. He started working at Anybody’s Bike shop on Water Street in 2001, eventually taking over the operation. But he felt burdened not only by the financial obligations of taking on the shop, but also by a sense of duty to continue with the original owner’s intent. So he shut down the store and pursued other interests for a time – though his passion for biking never left.

His latest venture is close to debt-free, and entirely his own. He runs it out of an 1860s apartment building he lived in for years before purchasing – so he literally feels right at home at work.

He can focus entirely on the customer. “I have this opportunity now to do it however I want, and I’m really interested in doing custom, and one-on-one,” he said. “Moving forward, I’m really focusing on providing a high level of attention to each individual person.”

Not Just Anybody’s Bikes & Books will offer regular classes on the subject of biking, ranging from the physics of the sport to equipment repair and more. The shop hosts regular film screenings, from old classics to recent competitors in the Midwest Weird Fest Film Festival. Eric also offers a small selection of used books for sale, and plans on expanding his offerings in the near future.

More information is available online at www.eauclaire.bike.