Wolfeboro's Hollywood heyday is long gone, and the rockin' party of the 1980s and '90s has dispersed. But any summer resort has to put on its act when the season arrives.
The bike shop is a lot like a Disney attraction based on a movie most people have forgotten. When I worked at Walt Disney World in 1977, I was assigned to the Enchanted Tiki Room. The audience consisted of people who didn't know what else to do with a D ticket, grandparents, and couples looking for a dark, air-conditioned place to make out. It was also -- based on analysis of the evidence left behind -- a pretty good place to change the baby's diaper and leave the turd burrito for the servants to pick up. The bike shop, while we have adapted, has a similar feeling of being left behind in a dusty past.
I will admit that segments of the bicycling economy do seem to be proliferating in their separate subcultures. Instead of a single invasion riding on hundreds of muddy beasts, riders arrive on a weird array of machines related only by having pedals attached to a crank. The general configuration is still based on the "safety bicycle" of the 1890s, but from there it can go anywhere. Since Friday we've had a gravel bike with electronic shifting, two smokeless mopeds that crashed on the rail trail, one while-you-wait hydraulic caliper overhaul, and close to 20 rentals. It is still far below the flat-out pace of the 1990s, but on most days we only have two people on duty.
Our new trainee seems to be more of a body shop guy than a mechanic. You know body shop guys, whose cars look stunning and run like shit. He did a restoration-quality cleanup job on an old Schwein, but can't seem to get the hang of basic adjustments to shifting, or the plodding attention to details like tight stem bolts. And he has two or three other endeavors in full swing, so he keeps having to go to another job. Mechanical skill is part nature, part nurture. His nature is hard to assess when his nurture keeps getting interrupted.
The summer to this point has been mediocre. The town seems busy for the Fourth of July weekend. No telling where it will go from there. Wolfeboro's slogan, "The Oldest Summer Resort in America," used to refer to its historical roots as a summer retreat for a colonial governor. Now it aptly describes the graying demographic as the town becomes a big retirement community. Tourists come and do whatever it is that tourists do. We put on our outfits and play our roles, happy that anyone shows up at all.