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North Portland’s Revolver Bikes has closed its doors for good

Posted by on February 19th, 2020 at 8:56 am

A bike shop no more.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

I never thought I’d write this: Portland has lost another bike business to Arkansas.

Last week I reported that UK-based Rapha Racing LLC opted to leave Portland for Bentonville. The move was primarily fueled by the fact that Rapha is owned by WalMart heirs who are based there. But a company spokesperson also said Bentonville’s plethora of mountain bike trails helped seal the deal ahead of a launch of Rapha’s first-ever MTB apparel line.

Now comes news that stalwart north Portland shop Revolver Bikes has closed. And guess what? The owner says Arkansas’ burgeoning bike scene made the decision easier.

I first heard rumors of Revolver’s demise last weekend. I confirmed the news when I rolled by a few days ago and saw everything packed up. I hoped it was just a move.

Revolver opened in 2005 when owner Mark Pickett and his family decided to move into the Arbor Lodge neighborhood a few blocks away. Set in an old, brick commercial storefront across from the North Interstate and Rosa Parks Way MAX light rail stop and a new New Seasons Market store, Pickett found a niche as a solid, service-oriented bike shop that found customers in the Piedmont, Arbor Lodge, Kenton, Humboldt, and Overlook neighborhoods.

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“Cycling is going crazy here. Mountain biking in Arkansas is bananas.”
— Mark Pickett, Revolver Bikes owner

Pickett is a mountain biker at heart and was personally involved in Portland’s many efforts to establish more off-road cycling access in Forest Park. When he was still working at the shop our chats often turned to commiserating about the latest setbacks to our dreams of riding mountain bikes without driving an hour to a trail.

I heard from Pickett this morning after reaching out to him in hopes of clearing the air as news about the shop’s closure spread online in the past few days. He confirmed that he and his family moved back home to Fayetteville (25 miles south of Rapha and WalMart headquarters in Bentonville) in August 2018 to be closer to extended family. Pickett’s longtime employee Eric Swain was running the shop for the past 18 months. When buyout plans fell through, they decided it was time to close the shop for good. Swain plans to stay in the local bike industry while Revolver’s other employee will move onto something else.

Pickett now works for Phat Tire Bike Shop in Fayetteville, a Trek-branded store with nine successful storefronts in the area. “They are killing it,” Pickett gushed this morning. “Cycling is going crazy here. Mountain biking in Arkansas is bananas.” Pickett says since he left Fayetteville in 2002 “cycling infrastructure has exploded with support from the Walton Foundation.”

“There are paved trail systems in most of the towns in the region and over 150 miles of new singletrack in the area,” Pickett continued. “They had the Red Bull Pump Track World Championships here in 2018 and they are hosting ‘cross worlds in 2022. The communities recognize the tourist benefit cycling brings to the table and folks are getting on bikes.”

Pickett added that the move has been bittersweet because he misses his friends and customers in Portland.

Revolver is the second bike shop in north Portland to close this year after Norther Cycles on North Albina called it quits. That leaves the entire northern quadrant west of I-5 serviced by four shops: Golden Pliers (Skidmore & Interstate), Killer Queen Cyclery (Lombard & Mobile), Kenton Cycle Repair (Denver & Kilpatrick) and Block Bikes (Ivanhoe & Burlington).

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Steve Hash
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Steve Hash

Good Luck Mark! Former Revolver customers, check out Block Bikes in the heart of St. Johns.

Bryan
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Bryan

“Cycling is going crazy here. Mountain biking in Arkansas is bananas.”

When will Portland learn…

JF
Guest
JF

Portland will never learn. Decent place if you are a commuter. Absolutely dreadful place — bordering on hostile — for all other forms of cycling. Too bad because there is a lot of potential. But Portland’s DNA will never let cycling properly grow here.

RH
Guest
RH

I agree 100%

jonno
Guest
jonno

Wildly disagree. Could it be better? Hell yes, and the magic cycling fairy could wave her magic wand and make every headwind a tailwind and every climb a descent. But I can get on my road bike, gravel bike, commuter, whatever and find an exhilarating ride out my city front door any day of the week in all seasons, run errands across town, hit a pub or two or just get my cardio time for the day. Within an hour-ish’s drive/Max ride we can access thousands of miles of forest doubletrack, mtb singletrack, empty country roads, established routes, scenic routes, small towns, bikepacking, etc etc etc. I go back and forth in my general riding attitude too, but this is where I keep coming back. It’s pretty damn good.

Dean
Guest
Dean

Well, that’s bittersweet. I just got back from riding to school with my kiddo on a a bike I bought for his older brother at Revolver many years ago. I always felt like they were the bike shop of the people in a lot of ways. Like the type of mechanics that would talk you out of an expensive upgrade rather than upsell you, etc. But it’s awesome to read that the bike scene in AR is exploding and I wish the owners well in their new endeavors.

Re: all the people bashing on PDX for lack of MTB areas, Gateway Green has a lot of potential. Is it Sandy or will it ever be Sandy? No way – but it’s laid back, not crowded, and with some extra community support I think we could turn it in to something amazing. Also – I hear a lot of people complaining that it’s too small / beginner-ish but I hardly ever see anybody sending that jump line / wall ride.

I’ve also had a good time on some of the forest park trails that do allow MTBs. It’s more of a “nature ride” than a thrillfest of course, but BPA road will get your blood pumping (either from the punishing ride up or the loose/fast descent). Also -give firelane 5 a try. I usually ride to the trailhead so I can make a pretty epic 25 mile day out of it.

Joel
Guest
Joel

Dean, I have to disagree with you on Gateway. It will never be a mountain bike destination and will never be anything more than a glorified skills area. The jump line is large and impressive looking but the jumps are too short and very easy to overshoot its dangerous and poorly built thats why no one is hitting them. We have a HUGE park in the city which could have some world class trails but we can’t because a few very rich people are concerned about parking in their neighborhood.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Have you contacted the hard-working volunteers who built the jumps at Gateway to offer and correct the safety issues with their jumps?

Dan Sloan
Guest

Hi Dean! They cut down the huge tree at the top of the jump track at gateway 🙁

Dean
Guest
Dean

Fancy meeting you here, Dan! That sucks about the tree.

John
Guest
John

JF is right, Johnno is way off and obviously never ridden in the Midwest. Midwest: Single track, way better then Oregon, always has been. Group road rides hell yeah, take the whole road with a sweet echelon, because there might be one car an hour that happens to be going the other way. There is typically a quiet paved road every square mile. The only thing Oregon might have going for it now, is that the mountain bike technology has caught up to Mountain style terrain and more trails are being built. But who likes to drive to ride?. But road riding has always been horrid in pdx area. Commuting’s OK, but that’s dying off too as millennials won’t ride a bicycle and love their electric cars.

bendite
Guest
bendite

Having grown up in the Midwest, I’m going to disagree. There was no singletrack, as in zero, for a 60 mile radius. And decent singletrack was 100 miles away. No shoulder on roads and drivers that don’t know how to drive around cyclists. I prefer it here in Oregon.

SERider
Guest
SERider

When did you grow up in the Midwest? I grew up in Cleveland (high school class of ’99), and yes, back then I didn’t even really know what a mountain bike was (despite doing some summer road riding). When I go back know, they have some pretty good trail systems all within 30 minutes of downtown. A few are in the County metro parks system. Way better trails than anything on offer within 30 minutes of downtown PDX. I think the point is that other cities have recognized the benefit of building mtb trails and Portland hasn’t.

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg

What state? When?

Right now the the Midwest is popping off with tons of new trails, in and out of cities.

SERider
Guest
SERider

I noticed you didn’t write “I can get on a MTB out my front door”….. And that’s kind of the point.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Agree 100%. Good for commuting, and an absolute $&*t show for everyone else. Yeah, gravel is burgeoning, but just wait till every rough and gravel street in the metro is paved to allow 40 mph traffic. Superfund sites (NOPO) and freeway medians (Gateway Green) shouldn’t be the only places in town to ride dirt.

TJM
Guest
TJM

I grew up in Arkansas, went to college in Fayetteville and moved to PDX in 2000. I’ve heard biking has exploded in AR, but really, there’s just no comparison there to Portland’s biking lifestyle. How many employers in Fayetteville have secured bike parking, showers, etc? Yeah, I’m sure they’ve added painted bike lanes to busy roads that is the equivalent to biking on NE Lombard, but most of what the AR hype is about is recreational biking. Nice trails to ride that don’t for leisure, not for commuting and errands.

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg

TJM
I have (been to Bentonville). I used to work there. Read my post above.

Recently? The cities in NW Arkansas are adding on street bike lanes because they want to funnel all those MTBers to downtown businesses. Including Fayetteville. See: https://www.fayetteville-ar.gov/3529/On-Street-Bike-Lanes

A lot of NW Arkansas towns are pre-WW2, so the cities are dense and the streets have relative slow speeds, so even streets without bike lanes aren’t bad.

world's slowest mamil
Guest
world's slowest mamil

I have no hard proof of this, but I think that people who enjoy recreational cycling are more likely to want to use bicycles for more utilitarian things, or at least be more sympathetic towards those who do. But, I don’t think it works the other way.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

That seems to be correct.

Frank Selker
Guest
Frank Selker

As Jonathan has pointed out, it’s all about politics. Some day we’ll get a council member who will stand up to Forest Park neighbors and say the park is for all of Portland, not just them.

Joel
Guest
Joel

Frank I agree. I think it is time to start poaching en-masse and letting all of the news folks know what we are doing. It worked for skateboarding.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I got tired of Lucy yanking the football away, and moved elsewhere.

Glenn II
Guest
Glenn II

Maybe when people stop moving here in droves anyway?

RudiV
Guest
RudiV

Well played on the lede.

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

To compare PDX and Fayetteville is really not fair. PDX is a million where Fayetteville is less than a 100,000 and is set in close proximity to a national park. Maybe a better comparison is Bend to Fayetteville with similar populations, proximity to the woods and commitment to trails. Yes, PDX has a long way to go to allow more trails but they are working on it and Post Canyon, Sandy Ridge, Stubb Stewart, Browns Camp, etc. are all within an hour, fairly high quality and growing. Glass half full.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Exactly. If mountain biking is the only thing you do, Arkansas is probably great. Portland has so much more to offer in other areas: culture, food, mountaineering, skiing, surfing, etc.

Of course I lament the missed opportunities for close-in mountain biking, however. It is ridiculous that we don’t have dozens of miles of trails in Forest Park for mountain biking.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Have you ever been to Bentonville?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I have not. How is the downhill skiing?

Shimran George
Guest
Shimran George

Bentonville has some great surf breaks too!

In all seriousness I’m glad they have beefed up their bike infrastructure and have all these great trails–I am actually interested in visiting a place I didn’t expect I’d ever go see! As a man who loves to travel, it’s sad when my own country, despite one of the most gifted geographies on earth, has so many towns and places that are modeled on endless malls/strip-malls, with no character or pedestrian experience. So I applaud it when a town tries to do something different, or engage visitors and residents alike with a different array of activities or way to explore them.

We lost a great bike shop–let’s learn from this and move on. Let’s go to these places and see what’s they’re doing right. I think getting actionable results on the ORMP is a start. Maybe the people in NW Arkansas will start embracing the bike, not just as a recreational tool, but one that can be used for commuting too!

TJM
Guest
TJM

I have (been to Bentonville). I used to work there. Read my post above.

pdx2wheeler
Subscriber

One of my favorite shops when I lived in Arbor Lodge. Could drop the bike off for maintenance then head over to the Night Hawk for some refreshments while I waited.

mran1984
Guest

Uh, maybe the last quarter million who arrived should have brought singletrack with them. They did bring a strong desire to negatively change everything that WAS Portland. What is not “fair” is the COMPLETE lack of any mountain biking in Portland. This city is only interested in serving timid riders who have trouble fitting their own helmets. Sure, you can operate your device, but you can’t lube your chain. Another annoying reminder is that “THEY” are not working on anything worthwhile in this town. The mtb problem has been going on for a very long time with zero improvement. Gateway Green is not mountain biking. Watch all the bike shops close and keep purchasing everything online. Yeah, great. And PBOT makes the escape to the woods more difficult and idiotic everyday. Before Foster Rd. was ruined Sandy Ridge was a pleasant 35 miles away. Now it’s 90 minutes of frustrating b.s. Wow, Arkansas, good job!

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

Foster Road ruined?

I’ve lived in Woodstock for a while and Sandy Ridge was never 35 minutes away.

David Lewis
Subscriber
David Lewis

In the glass-half-full department, Golden Pliers is an absolutely wonderful shop. I would trust Kevin with anything I own.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I guess it the zeitgeist changes over time. We have gone from Obama to Trump, “Portlandia” to “Yellowstone” and “Ozark”, kayak racks to gun racks and now the center cutting edge of cycling is moving from Oregon to Arkansas. I for one ,am about ready for the trendy crowds to move on to somewhere else and lets us return to the halcyon days of “Old Portland.”

Christopher San Agustin
Guest
Christopher San Agustin

#freeforestpark

Al
Guest
Al

“That leaves the entire northern quadrant west of I-5 serviced by four shops…”

For some perspective, Gresham, Oregon’s fourth largest city, has ONE bicycle shop!

rick
Guest
rick

It has two because Dick’s Sporting Goods sells bicycles on Eastman parkway.

Al
Guest
Al

So do Target, Fred Meyer, Big 5 and pawn shops. I was referencing Jonathan’s quote. He didn’t include those in his count and I didn’t include them in mine.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Dick’s is not a bike shop. Amazon sells bikes, as well. Does that make it a bike shop?

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

Mark’s shop took care of my bike when Swan Island was central to my days. Will be missed.
If you get down to NW Arkansas, you will find yourself in the beautiful Ozark Mts, and can catch some fine music at the Folk Music Center in Mountain View. Did a couple of tunes there in the 70’s after a lovely introduction by none other than the legendary Jimmy Driftwood (“Tennessee Stud” and “Battle of New Orleans”)

Larry Logan
Guest
Larry Logan

Lenny, I went to the UofA, graduating in ’75. I worked with National Geographic on a photo shoot with Jimmy Driftwood, spending time at his house, etc. Terrific experience. With respect to NWA, I travel back there often owing to client relationships. The change is beyond belief and anyone who says ‘not cultural’ is shooting from afar and not familiar with Fayetteville. Yes, more conservative in thought overall (with less of the issues we have here), but if you love the outdoors, close-by, then it’s heaven.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

That’s what you get when you’re a progressive stronghold that looks down your nose at everybody else. Other cities will benefit from these good shops leaving Portland. Expect more closures to come.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Comment deleted. Personal insults that have nothing to do with the story or issue will not be tolerated. – Jonathan

Chris I
Guest
Chris I
Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

Chris, you don’t have to like or agree with everything you read on a forum. And if that is problematic, then maybe avoiding them all together would be a good strategy. I have not attacked you, but you seem intent on coming after me if for nothing else being outside of your echo chamber. That’s fine, but life is short. Go enjoy it instead of trying to regulate others on BikePortland.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’ve taken your critique to heart, and I promise that this will be my last comment on BikePortland. You’ll be free to rant about everything the city, the social justice warriors, and pedestrian/bike advocates do in Portland. You’ll be free to complain about how it is ruining your life.

Enjoy your persecution complex.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Bye Mark…thanks for being my NoPo bike shop stop for many years in what was once the NoPo bike shop desert (before Kenton Cycles set up)…now I just have to break the news to Leah, as your staff always knew how to keep her single speed yellow 80s Cannondale chainline coaster brake set up all set. ;-(

Alain
Guest
Alain

As for the NoPo Quadrant, don’t forget NoPo Bike Works and Metropolis. As well as Abraham Fixes Bikes, which is technically NE but on N Williams. And maybe the eBike store too. So, that would bring the total up to 8 shops.

Alain
Guest
Alain

Oops, missed Jonathan’s “west of I-5” qualifier regarding NoPo remaining shops. Revolver will be missed though. Always liked that shop, a little out of the way for me, but they had decent stock and always super friendly.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I used to hop into Revolver to buy lights, gear, etc. The shop owner was always friendly and helpful. They had a great selection of equipment and bikes (Anyone else here even carry Fairdale???) But when I had a flat nearby on Denver I rolled into Revolver for a repair/new tire. The tech so rudely condescended an explanation of the quick-release on my own bike wheel (the most basic and obvious function and something I’d done hundreds of times on multiple bikes), I avoided them going forward and took my business to NOPO Bikeworks and Block Bikes. I’m not in your shop to pay you to talk down to me. Best of luck in Arkansas to the owner. Hopefully bike culture doesn’t have such a chip on the shoulder the way Portland does.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

I’m really going to miss going to Revolver and flirting with their cute mechanic, I think his name is Jon.

Sam
Guest
Sam

This comment is no less gross just because it is made by woman objectifying a man.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

That would be true, if female objectification of men were a rampant problem, causing similar levels of harm to men.

Sam
Guest
Sam

OK hot-stuff…

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg

I liked more. Bring on equal objectification!

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Jon is my boyfriend, I was making a joke. Stop being so reactionary.

Jon
Guest
Jon

I’m sad that Revolver has gone. One coolest places I’ve ever worked. My favorite part was when that other shop owner would come in and flirt with me, I think her name is Rachel

Sam
Guest
Sam

Residents of Arbor Lodge and north N Interstate, please head down Denver to support Kenton Cycle Repair. The staff are top-notch, as mechanics and as human-beings. They have are always friendly and respectful. The store also sells new and expertly refurbished bikes catering to the everyday, functional, no-frills city cyclist. I remember when KCR opened in their first tiny spot across Denver down the block from where they are now about 15 years ago. I’m pretty sure they are the now the oldest LBS still open in all of North Portland.

PTB
Guest
PTB

“””I never thought I’d write this: Portland has lost another bike business to Arkansas.”””

I think this is a bit much. Neither one of these cases, Rapha or Mark, are too shocking. Rapha’s owners bein’ them dang ol’ Walton boys. And Mark is from Arkansas. He moved home. That’s fine and happens. If a friend moves back to Michigan I don’t say, “I can’t believe I’m saying this: I lost another friend to Michigan.”

If RCB pulls up stakes and moves to Little Rock I think your disbelief at the situation is warranted.

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg

Shimran George
Let’s go to these places and see what’s they’re doing right.

I can answer that without you having to go anywhere.

1) Other places are willing to learn from the people that are doing it already, regardless of politics, geography or commonality. There was no “smug bubble”, no “but its from flyover country” excuses, no “we are a unique and beautiful snowflake”. One of failures of the ORCMP is its unwillingness to discuss what works in other locations.
2) Other places hire people that have done this before, not the locals or a big name. NW Arkansas has lots of Wal-Mart money, but they didn’t pretend they knew how to do this. They hired people who cut their teeth making great urban trails in MI, MN, WI, GA, & TN. Look at the complete death trap the proposed RVNA trail layout is and ask yourself: “Would that look the same if someone with knowledge of urban hiker/biker trails had designed it?”
3) Other cities said ‘yes’ to small projects and learned from them. Instead of having a big complicated and toothless process that gives voice to every anti in the city (or as in Portland, the same dozen antis) the cities said ‘yes’ at one small project and proved it could be done. They used that project to work out the bugs. Then they applied that success to the next place and so on and so forth.

If you as Portland MTBers want to change things they are going to have to do the above 3 things and 1 other: willingness to get active in force. I can guarantee you that if Commissioners woke up Saturday morning with 300 MTBers laying siege to their house like a medieval castle and that became an every Saturday thing till the situation changed, mountain biking trails are coming way sooner. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Brian
Guest
Brian

The “just ride it” idea has been brought up repeatedly over the years, but has never occurred on a larger scale out of respect for the volunteer work being done by NWTA. The commonly held belief is that poaching would negatively reflect on that work, and the mtb community in general. Poaching would mean we would never be allowed access to more, and/or better, trails within Portland. That may make sense, in theory, but I’m not so sure any longer that that would be the reality. The opposite argument could be made that it may be the only way to get our local government to recognize and work with the mtb community. Squeaky wheel, as you say.
People, of course, poach trails throughout the city but no one has ever organized a concerted effort to use it as a strategy to try and affect change in policy. No one has ever formed the “rebellious” branch of the mtb advocacy tree here in Portland.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I agree Brian, that’s the very widely held belief (including by myself): poaching would do a lot more harm than good politically. I’m not sure that a MTB-equivalent of BikeLoudPDX would be a good idea, if what that means is riding wherever you feel like.

Such a weird feeling being back here in the Portland bubble where bicycles are viewed as some vicious machines that tear up the land, kill wildlife and generally terrify everyone, and where those who advocate for bike trails in the metro area are viewed as having an “absolute sense of entitlement.” That’s a pretty unimaginable point of view anywhere else.

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg

I’m notoriously anti-poaching. But I’m not anti-civil disobedience. Remember how the money for the ORCMP was allocated: Fritz and Fish altered a democratic process, mountain bikers descended on the RVNA to protest (with the resultant press that was bad for Portland) and suddenly Portland commissioners found themselves looking like the bad guy. Money magically appeared. It appeared for the wrong thing in my opinion (should have been used to get a qualified trail designer in for RVNA), but it appeared. Yet, mountain bikers in PDX seemed to forget that series of events. Again, squeaky wheel gets the grease. If NWTA would abandon support for the ORCMP and instead focus on civil disobedience at Forest Park, RVNA and commissioners homes, things would change faster than you imagine.

Dean
Guest
Dean

Sam
OK hot-stuff…

Really?? Dude – I’ve been around for 35 years and never once have I felt harassment the way most women I know feel on probably a weekly basis. She wasn’t objectifying him. She wasn’t randomly cat-calling him as he walked down the street. She wasn’t grabbing his body without permission at a bar while he was minding his own business.

She called him “cute”, which is about the most innocuous word somebody could possibly use, and could have been referring to his personality. And this is based off real-world interactions, which isn’t the same as calling some rando on the internet “hot-stuff”.

Sam
Guest
Sam

That’s great for you Dean. I’m glad you’ve never felt as though you’ve been harassment. I wish that were true for everyone. You sure are fortunate.

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg
Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Interesting that MTBers with their huge machines and absolute sense of entitlement to do whatever they want on shared public land find succor in the land of WalMart.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

“huge machines and absolute sense of entitlement”

That’s a sense of imagination to rival that of my kindergartener. Congratulations.

David Guettler
Guest
David Guettler

River City Bicycles isn’t going anywhere. Portland is, and will always be, home.

DeedasaurusWrecks
Guest
DeedasaurusWrecks

The perspective that one of the largest urban parks in the US should exclude recreational access to a specific user group that is commonly accommodated in state parks, national forest, public lands, and city parks is in fact coming from a place of entitlement.

JS
Guest
JS

I hail from Phoenix, which has some of the best singletrack in the metro area, by far. I moved to PDX for family reasons but sure as hell wouldn’t have chosen it for its access to trails or cycling infrastructure. I had expected the area to be rife with such opportunity but I was wrong. Hell, PHX has better infrastructure due to its newness although its drivers are some sort of special.

bicyclesrdum
Guest
bicyclesrdum

bye eric. bye mark. bye maverick. bye jon.

miss you.

your favorite homeless van dwelling non customer.