I live in a college town with a population of about 20,000, and a student body of about 17,000. The city has a vital and active downtown area with lots of small businesses that are closely grouped, promoting walking. There's a great new public skate park with two very successful skate shops near by, and a really impressive number of public parks for the city's size. I moved here from my home town because I really liked the vibe of this place, and because the people seemed so friendly. With photography as a hobby, this city is always giving me angles and views that make me wish I had my camera. I love this place. There are cyclists and pedestrians everywhere, and motorists are tolerant, if not knowledgeable about driving near cyclists.
There are no bike shops.
Oh sure, there was one here three years ago, but they're gone, and the nearest one is twenty-five miles away. I'm not making this trip on a bicycle. Even in a car, it's a pain because the shops are all 35 minutes away, and close an hour after I get off work. By the time I pack up and get out the door, I get about fifteen minutes in the shop before they start locking doors.
As it is, I'm expecting a package from Nashbar at work today, so I'm working around it, but honestly, I'm looking for a little perspective. How do you manage car free without a local bike shop, when a new presta tube for your roadie is a mail-order item? Did you bum rides from friends, do the mail order thing and set yourself up with bike mechanicing stuff and an inventory of parts? Did you sometimes walk a lot?
I'm not car free, but I can see that it might be possible for me, as none of my day-to-day needs are more than three miles from home. Most are within a mile, in fact.