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601 Cyclery owner takes ‘organic’ path

By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer/photographer

The owner of a recently opened bicycle restoration/repair shop in Bastrop is bringing a time-honored mode of operation to his 21st century customers. “I definitely feel like I’m old-school,” said Matthew (Matt) Brooks, who opened 601 Cyclery Shop in February at 601 Chestnut St. (Suite G) in The Crossing.

Matthew (Matt) Brooks and “Tika” welcome customers to the recently-opened 601 Cyclery bike-restoration/repair shop in The Crossing. (Terry Hagerty photos)

Brooks said his shop emulates a “brick-and-mortar” type of bike shop versus a larger chain-store bike operation. He said his is a cyclery shop “more focused on serving (and participating in) the local community. Anything organic takes time and patience.” Brooks likened his shop’s operation to “a crusty mechanic who hasn’t raced (in competition) but will get your bike repaired and running perfectly with just about anything that happens to be lying about.” He added, “I do repairs, restorations and upgrades.” 601 Cyclery also displays multiple professional-level bikes on consignment from customers, including racing veterans. Brooks said he loves the bicycle business. “I like puzzles when it comes to bikes. Their function is inherently simple, yet there are also a lot of intriguing puzzles within a bike,” said Brooks, with his trusty Tika by his side – a friendly shelter-rescue dog who greets customers on the shop’s front porch.

Reconnecting with Family Roots

Brooks’ journey to Bastrop and a return to his relatives’ Texas roots has been a fascinating one. He developed his easy-going life philosophy while living amid the stunning scenery of Alaska (where he was born) and Hawaii. In Kailua-Kona, on the island of Hawaii, he worked at a cyclery shop where he had to be quick and nimble in readying bikes for the challenging Ironman triathlon competition. “I’ve worked in the mechanical side and the sales side” of the bike business for years, Brooks added. After moving back to the lower-48 and doing construction work in the Dallas area, Brooks said he was ready for a change of pace. “Dallas was a rat race...and every day I made it home I felt lucky,” he said of the aggressive traffic and hectic pace of life. By chance he got a job working on the zip line construction at McKinney Roughs, after a call from a friend working there. “Landing in Bastrop was chance, really,” Brooks said. Before he decided to open his own shop he did various jobs around the Bastrop area including working for Lee Harle, owner of Bastrop River Company, the popular kayak-canoe rental and river-adventure shop in The Crossing. “Lee was one of the first people I met in Bastrop,” Brooks said. All the while he continued working on bikes as an independent contractor. “I noticed a void” for bike service “and there didn’t appear to be anyone looking to fill it,” Brooks said of his decision to open a shop here. “I thought, I’ll take shot at this. There’s definitely a bike-riding population here.” His journey to Texas was also a chance to reconnect with his family roots. “My family is originally from Texas,” Brooks said, adding that one side can trace its lineage to Davy Crockett, hero of the Alamo.

‘Know Your Bike!’

Brooks made several recommendations to keep one’s bike up to par. “Basic knowledge of your bike and its operations are number one,” Brooks said, closely followed by maintaining correct tire pressure and keeping the bike clean and lubricated. “People don’t always take the time to fully understand their bike,” Brooks said. “How to properly lube a bike is important – owners can do it.” He added that tire pressure can be lost when the bike sits motionless for a while. “People don’t realize that over time air molecules can pass, actually leak through the material of the tube itself.” He said dust can be a culprit: “Dust and dirt (contain) minerals that can oxidize and cause corrosion over time.”

Connecting with Customers

Brooks makes time to talk at length with his customers on the comfortable benches of 601 Cyclery, a feature they much appreciate. One bike veteran said keeping Brooks open is crucial. “He’s the only one we got; we need to keep him happy. He’s worked on both my bikes,” said the customer, who has participated in bike races in Thailand and California. On 601’s Facebook page, another satisfied customer wrote, “Matt took the time to check every point on our bikes to make sure we were road safe and ride worthy. He even took the time to show Chris how to maximize his pedaling efforts and really take advantage of all his gears. In a time when people are just numbers next in line, we are so fortunate to have such a detailed-oriented bike shop here in downtown Bastrop.”

Expansion Possibility

As for possible expansion of his operation – whether more days/hours or a physical expansion and employee addition – Brooks said he remains optimistic and practical when viewing the future. “If growth happens, I’m fine with that. I’m not looking at growing quick. I want (customer) recommendations and appreciation to grow my business.”

More information: 601 Cyclery, which is located behind the west side of Main Street and bordering the Colorado River, is open Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; phone, 512-985-6119; on Facebook, 601 Cyclery.