A Little Bit Of History

Go back to 1971 and a warm, summer, early Sunday morning on a rural back road in Iowa. A small group of riders is out for a 20-mile ride from Council Bluffs to the Union Pacific rail yard and back. After a campground grill-cooked breakfast (omelet, homemade French bread, cheese and a glass of wine), the group heads back at a relaxed pace, enjoying the day, the comraderie, and a lively discussion of world events. I was in that group and it was my first time on a ten speed bike. I was also 20 years old and at least 2 decades younger than anyone else in the group. I was riding that morning to stay on the good side of my girlfriend's dad, a Frenchman in America, in love with all things French. He cooked the meal, (his parents made the bread), he chose the wine and he had a real honest-to-goodness European 10 speed bicycle! A beautiful Peugeot (of course) that was the envy of the rest of us (I was on his old beater bike without a clue how to shift; thankfully it was fairly flat and it was an easy pace).

What a marvelous day and what a grand experience. By the time we got back to their house, I was saddle sore, pooped (4 hours sleep - we'd left at 6 AM), and crazy for a Peugeot! That ride was indirectly the start of Bicycle South. His bike had come via a trucker friend from New York City and somehow that fall he got one to me and I started back to college at Emory riding a brand new Peugeot UO-8. At that time, I was just about the only student with a 10 speed and a group of us starting hanging out together at Dooley's Den (the local student burger joint). One of the group had some connections to a New York bike shop importing French Gitane 10 speeds and we got them to ship bikes to us to sell to our friends. We'd drive down to the Atlanta Greyhound bus station, pick up the box, take it back to Emory, build it, and sell it.

After a few months, we got the brilliant idea to open a bicycle shop! The New York shop had two locations, Bicycle East and Bicycle West, and because of that, we decided to call our shop Bicycle South. We rented a small storefront at the corner of N. Decatur Rd. and Clairmont and I remember one Sunday afternoon cutting out windows in the walls for folks to see into the soon-to-be-built repair area. By February of 1972 we were open and I've been a part of Bicycle South ever since!