Minneapplesauce – Angry Catfish

Call me crazy, but I am starting to think that on any given day if you hang around a bike shop long enough, something interesting is bound to happen.

Angry Catfish was the next stop on my “it list” of cycling coolness in Minneapolis. My list is far longer than my family would ever tolerate, otherwise I could be here for a month exploring the various bike shops, trails and events this city and it’s fair twin seem to offer the two-wheel minded.

Much like One on One, the front of the bike shop is occupied by a café, which is in turn occupied by people far cooler than me. While I try to look and feel like I fit in to this culture, somehow the reality of being a 40 year-old mom from Winnipeg wafts around me like a cloud. It’s not so much that I stand out – in fact it’s quite the opposite – I am sadly invisible.

The coffee smells wonderful and the cookies are – while not of “top of Mount Lemmon” proportions – enormous. I drifted quickly through the café, knowing I would be back after the main event, not wanting the sweet, crumbling cookies and creamy espressos to distract me. mmmm…. cookies.

There is, of course, a workshop at the heart of the store, where people drift in and out – staff, as well as some of the customers. Like most shops, this is a distinct privilege earned by being loyal, knowing your place (ie. you are not the mechanic), and not being a douchebag.

The main “showroom” part of the shop is filled with bikes of all shapes, sizes and colourways. There are road bikes, fixies, cross bikes and more. While I consider myself a roadie and will always drool over a ridiculously light (and equally ridiculously priced) road bike, I can’t help but be drawn to the city bikes that I know little to nothing about. They are so beautiful these bikes – lovely coloured rims, wood or hammered fenders, leather bar tape and matching saddles. And the paint jobs make my heart flutter.

Alas, being from out of town and of limited space and budget, I am only a looker and instead occupy myself with checking out the apparel – a good selection of Rapha and Twin Six goodies to rifle through. We are helped by the well-bearded and friendly Josh, who chats with me for a bit as I lament, once again, about missing the Artcrank show. I compliment him on the shop and since I am holding a Twin Six jersey in my hot little hand, he discreetly points out that “The” Twin Six guys are sitting in the café. As much as I would like to go and introduce myself, I cannot figure out a way of doing so without looking like a groupie or an ass.

And then came the interesting thing. As I was fondling the lycra and wool merchandise, there was a commotion as a large package arrived in the workshop. The pierced and tattoo’d mechanic said something like “oh man this is gonna be good!” and was instantly transformed into a wide-eyed little boy opening an enormous Christmas present.

Inside the package was this bicycle frame:

This is not, as I would discover, just an ordinary frame. It was hand-built by the shop of Italian master frame builder Dario Pegoretti, who has designed and built bikes for the likes of fellow countrymen Marco Pantani and Mario Cipollini. Josh cradles the stainless steel frame like a newborn, explaining the distinctive metallic polka dots are actually the steel peeking through the flawless glossy black paint. It is gorgeous.

“We almost lost him about a year ago” Josh says, referring to Pegoretti, who has been battling cancer and nearly died. He miraculously went into remission and is now building frames as quickly as he can – perhaps realizing how preciously short our time can be, and that these frames are his legacy.

Angry Catfish was another great community shop worth its weight in gold, carbon fibre or even stainless steel, as the case may be. The coffee was great (even though I had tea), the cookies were deliciously crumbly, and by the end of the visit I felt decidedly cooler than when I walked in.

p.s. I appropriated the shots of the Pegoretti frame taken by the mechanic, who in addition to knowing way more about fixing bikes than I will ever know, is also a better photographer than I am!