Saturday, March 13, 2010

Staff Profile: Neal O'Donnell

Before Neal O’Donnell, 44, joined the staff of the Rocky River store, he spent over twenty years as a interior house painter. Two years ago, he parlayed a love of bicycling (and years of shopping at Century Cycles) into a new career in the bicycle business. He is a self-described “Irish-Catholic Rastafarian” who, after growing up in Lakewood and graduating from St. Ed’s, now lives in Rocky River.

Q: What do you like about working at Century Cycles?
A: For the first time in my life, I am doing something I love. Before working at Century Cycles, I had never experienced looking forward to going to work. It’s really cool. I’m really appreciative to Scott for giving me a chance.

Q: How many bikes do you own?
A: I have two mountain bikes. My favorite bicycle is my Surly Karate Monkey. Josh turned me on to it. My other mountain bike has a XXL frame and 26” wheels, and I feel a bit like Herman Munster because I’m so tall. But the Karate Monkey is a 29er – a big steel monster that’s great for someone who is 6’4”. It’s black, but I got creative with duct tape and added some rasta stripes.

Q: Why do you like mountain bikes?
A: I’m an old hippie and I love being out in the weather and the woods. I’m not a road guy at all.

Q: What was your first bike?
A: One of those bikes with the banana seats like Scott has hanging on the wall here. I rode it to church one day and didn’t lock it up and it got stolen.

Q: Since you’re a big reggae fan, what artist do you recommend we listen to?
A: We have a hidden gem right here in Cleveland – Carlos Jones and the Plus Band. Carlos used to play in I-Tal and First Light, if you remember those bands, and he is insanely good. I’m going to see him Saturday night at the Grog Shop. He’s opening for Michael Rose from Black Uhuru.

Q: What three words describe how you feel on a bike?
A: Free. Euphoric. Peaceful.

Q: What the best piece of cycling advice that you’ve been given?
A: Do the kind of biking that makes you happy. People see my long legs and always want to get me on a road bike, but I just don’t like it.

Q: What advice do you give to a customer looking for a new bike?
A: If someone is new to bicycling, I try to determine if they are going to be happy just cruising around the neighborhood or if they are going to get bit by the bug. If they are looking at hybrid bikes but think they might get bit, I show them the next step up, like a flat bar road bike.

Q: What’s your post-ride beverage of choice?
A: Just water. I’m a bit of a health nut. I haven’t had a soda in about 30 years.

Q: What’s your favorite trail or ride?
A: I went to Reagan Park in Medina last summer with Josh and Brad and that was really fun. I like it better than the park on W. 49th and Grant. There are more that I need to investigate, though, like West Branch.

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