Mike started Easy Street in 1996 and has been firmly shackled to it ever since by his unceasing devotion to his customers. If you have difficult questions about your peculiar bicycle that no one else can answer you will find yourself talking to Mike. He is an odd duck, but is famously patient with people. Mike lived car-free for nearly 20 years and became a minor fixture of Austin Weirdness on his BikeE AA. He also owns a Lightning P-38, a BikeE E2 tandem, and an HPM Tri-Hauler, and he is eying an AZUB Mini (when he isn’t eying his bank account). He is now working on developing his carbon footprint by driving the company van all over the landscape. If you ride a bike in Austin, Mike thinks you should join Bike Austin, the local bike advocacy organization, which he helped form in 2006. He builds model rockets and cooks food according to the voices he hears in his head. He used to smile more, but it made people nervous so he dialed that back.
Micah has worked in bike shops in the Fort Worth area since he was 17. He discovered recumbents about the same time Mike did, during a conversation in a coffee shop with an amateur frame builder. His fascination with them grew, and 10 year later he took a job with City Cyclist, a Fort Worth bike shop owned by a customer of Easy Street (he’d bought a BikeE from us back in the day) and began to work on recumbents. When City Cyclist closed he had a chance to snatch up a Rans V-Rex at a good price. By this time he’d earned a reputation as the go-to guy for recumbent work, and Mike started sending customers Micah’s way for service. In 2015 Mike brought Micah down to Austin and started training him as a shop manager, and in 2018 Micah was sent home to run the ESR location in Keller. When Micah isn’t on his marvelously well-equipped AZUB Origami or his Rans Hammertruck, he is tinkering with eccentrically-designed British automobiles, particularly Ja-gu-ars and Range Rovers. Knowing just how crazily his own Ja-gu-ar is engineered he drives it very carefully. He can also shoot like Wild Bill Hickock, but fortunately he is a really nice guy.
When Service Manager Laurie isn’t building bikes or wheels for us, she builds other things. Some of her metal, leather, and bookbinding projects can be found at L.R. Wicker Design. Skilled in several mediums with no lack of creativity, she is just the sort a shop like Easy Street needs. Outside that, she beats on helpless pieces of metal with Balcones Forge. She claims she treats dogs like people, but she doesn’t treat people like dogs.
Our mechanic Ron can use his powers of tallness to get items off of high shelves. Other useful job skills from his past are emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter, which are more useful than you might think for a bike shop rear area. His experience doing IT work for a university proves handy when the printers stop working. He’s done a few years of big box retail work and, like Mike, did time as a rent-a-cop. For fun, Ron dresses up in medieval garb, but his days of sword-swinging are past and now he sports monikers like “Star Principal Herald Eirik Halfdanarson,” supervising the heraldry, and a few heralds, all over Texas and Oklahoma (someone has to do it). When he returns to the 21st century he tinkers with computer hardware and helps in Lego-league robotics competitions. Oh, and bowling.
Rebecca di Luce
Rebecca is our secret ingredient, organizing our events and keeping our customers connected and informed. She produces our newsletter and our coordinates anything related to our community and our brand. If she isn’t doing that she’s rescuing Mike from his own bookkeeping practices or doing whatever else the shop needs to keep running smoothly. She has lived in Yosemite National Park, tended bar in Alaska, managed garden tours of Scotland and scraped by on too-little in Paris. Otherwise, she likes cribbage, dancing, her motorcycle, her grandchildren, and dirty martinis.
“How in the hell did I end up in retail?”
Mike Librik discovered recumbent bicycles in 1994 in the European cycling magazine Bike Culture Quarterly, which he found on the rack at Freewheeling Bicycles in Austin. BCQ is no longer with us (nor is Freewheeling), but their former editor launched his own magazine, Velo Vision, which keeps that tradition going in a more financially robust method. Check it out.
In early 1996, Mike’s friend and future business partner Amy was severely injured going over the handlebars of her bike. They began a search for a safer alternative, and quickly turned to recumbents specifically for their safety advantages. They found recumbents in Austin at Recumbent Ranch, a small part-time operation. Recumbent Ranch was closing at about that time, so Mike bought it and called it Easy Street, based on his philosophy of cycling.
It is cliche in this industry to say that the owner “had a passion for cycling.” In truth, Mike just saw a great product that needed a champion, and once he had customers he realized they needed continued support. So Easy Street began, and so it continues, spreading the word about a great thing and supporting those who supported us.
After 11 years of working on a limited scale out of his house, Mike quit his day job and moved Easy Street to its current storefront location in late 2007. He was initially worried about paying the rent, laying in a large store of peanut butter and Beanie-Weenie, but with a storefront location his business jumped 7-fold in the first year and has steadily increased. Next came staff, which made rent look cheap. Next came the shop van, and a commitment to taking the word about recumbents out across Texas.
With customers coming in from all over the state, Mike was constantly asked when he’d have another store open. Some time around 2013 he started taking this idea seriously, but a complete lack of business background and a tendency to plodding perseverance left this idea brewing for 5 years. In 2018 the pieces were in place and ESR expanded to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
Recumbent specialists have come and gone in Houston and DFW during our time, but we keep in there, the only full service recumbent specialist in the south central USA. The store has lasted through two major recessions and has outlasted quite a few of its original suppliers. We aren’t big, and we don’t boast a giant inventory, but we keep on going. And that, in the end, is just what it was in the beginning: a commitment to supporting our customers.