I bet you're thinking, "Nice helmet, Arthur!"...I know.
This month's race started at a relatively new addition to the loose cannons circuit: SOFLO Skate and Bike Shop. These guys have been in Miami for years as a prominant skateboarding resource, but have recently branched out into the cycling scene; specifically the fixed gear aspect. I wish I had my camera with me at the time, but alas I can only describe my visual experience in words. For starters: Pretty flippin' sweet.
Once you walk into the relatively small shop, you're faced with a colorful explosion of custom painted skateboards, a glass-fronted counter stocked with the latest and greatest of skating and cycling accessories, and a small collection of beautiful bike frames displayed about the shop. The walls are decorated head to toe with the doodlings of the same artist who is working with the shop on creating the custom skateboards. With the added charm of a pair of vintage barber-shop chairs, an awesome dog named Cognac, and the laid-back attitudes of the shop's owners, you can count on an atmosphere of chill during your visit. No snobbery here.
I managed to talk with a co-owner of the shop, Cristian Moreno, before the race began. When I found him, he had just finished setting up a set of cycling rollers in the front of the shop. Without hesitation, he gladly gave me a tour of the shop, and we sat down in the barber chairs for an interview:
Arthur: What do you guys do here at SOFLO?
Cristian: Mostly chill. Help customers with all their skateboard and bike needs.
Arthur: Who are your customers?
Cristian: We have a base of customers in local skaters. Skaters who go to Peacock Park have been coming for some years now, but over the last year we've picked up bikers. Not that we've ever ridden much fixed gear before, but we rode all types when we were young. Everything from bmx to cruisers. We started to get involved with the MIAfixed forum, which inspired us to help people get into fixed gears. So the number of cyclists coming in is starting to pick up. David Berger of Bikes-to-Go has been great in helping us start up.
Arthur: Are you finding that there's much overlap between skate culture and bike culture?
Cristian: Since I've been riding, I've gotten at least 10-15 friends into biking, whether they were skating or not. My roommates, my friends, they've all started getting into it. Biking is getting huge.
Arthur: What made you get into bikes?
Cristian: I've skated for the last 12 years or so, So relative to that, I've only recently started riding a bike. I got hooked up from Bikes-to-Go at a great price ...it gave me liberty to go from one end of the city in the matter of an hour. It's pretty much the freedom of riding throughout Miami with no problems... something you can't do with a skate board.
Arthur: What do you think people should know about your shop?
Cristian: If you're a skater, I've got the best prices and selection you can find. As for the bikers, nothing pleases me more than seeing somebody ride out of here on their own bike. If I know that I've helped them accomplish that, It's the best feeling. Whether its building up a frame they've found, or getting them a bike from scratch.
Arthur: What makes the products here so unique?
Cristian: On the skating side: most products are small companies, usually owned by pro skaters and made local to the states. We use a really small west-coast distributer who provides with stuff that's hard to find at bigger stores. As for bikes; we're still pretty new, but we're developing a pretty good collection of vintage parts and frames.
Arthur: How about the clothing?
Cristian: We've got mostly earth friendly stuff; organic cotton and such. We carry Satori Movement from San Francisco, for instance.
Arthur: You guys have stuff going on at SOFLO besides bikes and skating?
Cristian: We plan on having acoustic shows, the un-plugs of local bands. We also have our blog at soflomofo.wordpress.com. We update it all the time with everything that goes on here; products, events, general info.
Arthur: what's your favorite aspect of Miami?
Cristian: The last couple of years, Dade County has opened up some free skate parks which is great. They're always packed with young skaters. Something I've been waiting for in the 12 years I've lived in Miami. It was everybody's dreams, and now its coming true.
Arthur: What is your least favorite aspect of Miami?
Cristian: Shitty law enforcement. Also, the heat and rain is a bad combo.
Arthur: where's the best place to chill in Miami?
Cristian: The News Lounge is great to chill at after a Loose Cannons Race, and SOFLO before the race.
Arthur: Thanks for your time.
Cristian: Of course bro.
The next event happening at the shop is on October 15th: the Grove's Bicycle Scavenger Hunt. Check out SOFLO's blog for more info.