The Bikin' Fools
Palisades Mountain Sport
your best friend in bikin'
Check out Dirt Rag #87, last page.
This is Mike Dunn on left, owner of PMS with Tony (Terrible Two) Pereirra
Meanwhile, Mike has made the sport of mountain bike riding much more accessible through his generosity and enthusiam for the sport. His shop is a wet dream for mountain bikers. The staff shares Mike's interest in the sport and are more than willing to help anyone towards a better more enjoyable experience whether it be from parts and products to advise and information.
Update: 2/12/01 Dunn has bailed from the shop. He still owns the place, but good sense took hold and he got a real job. Meanwhile PMS continues to rage with Tom, Justin and Cathy.
Update: 11/13/03 He's back! Well, maybe. Rumor has it the shop is for sale. Meanwhile Mike can be found at the shop Monday and Tuesday.
The Quintessential Bike Shop
A fast moving noise skids towards the open garage door on the side of the bike shop.
"What the...u..?" a startled Justin utters, "Oh, its YOU!" He says as he recognizes the intruder. An AARPa aged mountain biker throws his twelve year old Nishiki into a full broadside and screeches to a stop, but not before hitting Cathie's road bike and knocking it over.
"0ops," Says the embarrassed biker, "That wasn't supposed to happen."
"That's OK," Cathy says with great restraint. Yet her slightly narrowed eyes really say; "Duh! Ride much?"
Mike hangs up the phone and with a loud voice booms out; "What the F___ do YOU want?"
Several customers stop what the're doing and turn their concerned glance towards the work area. This could be trouble in any other arena, at PMS however, this is pretty much the standard greeting. The pesky twinkle in Mike's eyes allays the words that cannot be taken literally. Mike Dunn is one of those blue eyed, blond haired kids that must have driven his mother nuts. Ritalin was invented for the express purpose of giving Mikes' mom, one moment's peace. It didn't work.
In a small town it is a treat to have a quality bike shop, staffed by people who thoroughly enjoy the sport and are actively engaged in all aspects of cycling. Mike, owner and head-cheese, is why God invented racing. Although he displays little to no ego about the subject, he could. The term Dunn Movin' is not to be confused with that small town in the upper Mojave Desert, Donemoving, where years ago, some mule skinner finally quit going. Mike's somewhat porky build, belies his blinding speed and endurance. He needs the racing to burn off excess energy, to help keep him, sort of, towards normal. In Calistoga, "Dunn Movin'" equals "shredding".
Cathy is the person who, if she won the lottery, would likely be seen with a big grin on her face pedaling her touring bike, fully loaded off into the sunrise and only returning when the West becomes East again. She lives cycling, doesn't own a car and is active in local politics lobbying for cycling issues. What a lady. She is the connection for roadies who just cannot seem to see what all the fuss is about with the knobbies. She brings certain sanity to the shop that the rest of the local mountain bikers try their best to undermine. Justin puts in time tending to all aspects of the bicycle shop experience.
Although bicycles are relatively simple machines, it takes great skill and understanding to fix, adjust and tune the current generation of machines. Many riders in the local community do their own bike work. Yet, when some pesky little dilemma occurs, there is little hesitation to drag the bike to Palisades and have one of the employees tinker and tweak with their beloved bicycle. The deft and skill of the Palisades technicians makes a not-so-easy task look effortless. There are certain procedures that require those special tools that the average rider just doesn't have. For those operations, it is great to have the shop available. Not only that, but for the mechanically inclined, Palisades offers the "bozo's area", a space (outside) setup with tools and a bike stand for the locals to do their own tinkering. This of course, is lousy business. The classic entrepreneur gives nothing away, and grubs for money in every possible venue. Yet, this service, this attitude has built a very loyal clientele, who avoid the Nashcan type outfits and will pay slightly more money locally.
No shop would be complete without a dog (DAWG!). Auggie appears to be pretty stupid. Yet behind that benign appearance is the Zen Master dog. He knows how to live, where the dumpsters are and just when to piss-off Mike, usually at exactly the wrong time. This is part of the Zen experience. Auggie is a master of dog-log placement and can get the attention of the most aloof bikers when they discover Auggie's cleat paste lubricating the SPD's.
"Has anyone seen Travis?" The intrepid mountain biker asks.
"Of course not," Mike bellows out, "He still owes us money."
This is one of the hazards of being in business, especially a business that is thoroughly enjoyed by young, struggling people with little to no money. Unfortunately for Mike, his enthusiasm for cycling is so expansive, that he cannot avoid, altogether, helping those other 'bikin' fools' who are cash challenged. When Travis does finally earn some money it often gets spent on safety equipment and not on his bike bill. Thus a sign sits on the cash register made with an angry felt marker: "NO TABS!" However, when Travis finally needs something badly enough, he finds the way to get bucks to P.M.S.
Location, location and location, they say, are the three most important factors in a retail business. Especially in the very popular tourist town of Calistoga, this feature would add a great deal of traffic for the rental, clothing and accessory retail effort. Palisades Mountain Sports, however, is located nearly as far out of sight as can occur in Calistoga. Notwithstanding, people still find their way to the store, in large part, due to the shop's great local reputation. Locals don't hesitate to send customers to Gerard St. behind the Post Office. Calistoga has had other bike shops, each in their own unique way, managed to drive the locals elsewhere. Virtually every local bicycle enthusiast has been treated well at PMS, not necessarily to the well being of Mike's cash register. Much to the bane of the bottom line, Palisades serves as the meeting place for many cyclists. The shop provides a forum for enthusiasts to share stories, learn about places to ride, compare equipment and tell war stories.
Location in the larger sense is a very operative word with Palisades Mountain Sports. When it comes to the actual riding, there may be no better place on earth to ride than the area around Calistoga. Take your choice, road or off road, this area has it all. To make life easy for Mike, Pacific Union College in Angwin ten miles away, puts on the Napa Valley Dirt Classic each spring. This race attracts hundreds of top drawer riders from all over the west. A few weeks later, another major event happens there. Then there are several events that occur at Boggs Mountain Demonstration Forest, forty minutes to the north. Boggs just might be the most pleasant and fun romp in the entire West. Dozens of miles of primo single-track thread through this manicured State Forest. Then, one of the country's biggest, the 'original' Mt. Tamalpias race happens in Napa, CA., only twenty miles away. If one just has to race more, there are races held nearly every weekend at Lake Sonoma, only forty minutes to the west. If one is really psyched on the racing scene, the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey is only three hours to the south.
If one simply is into knobular activities without the competition, the Oat Hill Mine road climbs right out of Calistoga for two thousand vertical feet. It provides awesome views of the valley, and enough trials to challenge the burliest riders. For the adventuresome, one can go deep behind the Palisades and get lost enough to have the Napa Co. Search and Rescue activated. There are trails everywhere around the area. For a great workout, one can ride the fire road up Mt. St. Helena ending up at the top, four thousand feet above Calistoga.
For road riding, the area has it all. Starting with the easiest ride of all, the Silverado Trail. This pleasant ride stays in the valley and goes past dozens of wineries. One can up the calorie factor by taking Highway 128 over the hills into Knights Valley. There, scintillating views of Mt. St, Helena occur and several options happen for the enthusiastic roadie. If one likes peace and solitude, Lake Co. beckons just north of Calistoga. The most buff will climb the two thousand vertical feet over Highway 29 and proceed to Middletown, where several very quiet options exist. In addition, several century rides happen in the area each year. Most noteworthy are the Wine Country Century and the Napa Valley Century. So far a "sleeper", the Pedal Round The Puddle Century that circumnavigates Clear Lake is one of the nicest rides known to cycling. A most prestigious ride, the Davis Double Century happens only one hour away.
"I was hoping Trav might be around to ride Oat Hill." The mountain biker said, I guess I'll have to go find the Burlyman, he's always up for adventure." And so, without spending a dime this time, the older dude turns and leaves. On his way out, with nobody looking, he grabs the black marker and changes the 'T' to a 'D' leaving the sign on the cash register reading: "NO DABS!"