I have some sad news to write about, Jack Havercamp of Jack's Bicycle Shop passed away quietly yesterday afternoon. Jack was a great supporter of myself and an even better friend of our family.
Everyone has that one bike shop that they always go to, and once my dad got into cycling Jack's Bicycle Shop was the one we visited. Jack's was like no other bike shop.
First of all it is located in a renovated garage behind his house. So needless to say it is quite small, but there were plenty of goodies located inside. When ever you needed that random part chances are he had it stuffed in a drawer somewhere. It could have been the most random thing in a completely obscure place, but if you described something you needed he would know exactly where to look. Our mechanic from the past two years Will, who lived in the area, loved the shop and Jack, he would always rearrange one thing when Jack wasn't looking and of course he would spot it right out. Our number holders over the past two years came from Jack's as they were made from reflectors that came on the bikes in the shop. It was no problem as they were just sitting in a drawer.
Secondly there was pretty much one employ, Jack. Of course his two grandsons Nick and Chad would step in now and again and in the past few years helped out quite a bit more. It made it easy to grow a relationship with over the years. You knew just about everything about him and he knew just as much about you and your family. Whenever you went you had to make sure you had time to talk because you weren't just going to run in and run out. Some of the time spent was just waiting on the UPS man to bring the package of the day. It was fun to also peek on what everyone else was getting.
Like I said he was one of my biggest supporters and would always ask me or my dad what races I was doing and how I was doing. He also hung newspaper clippings of me on the walls and has one of my Marian national championships jerseys framed hanging on a wall. You want to know how good the relationship was. Well my dad has purchased 37 bikes from him. You don't buy that many bikes from one person if you don't like them.
Thirdly I always got a kick out of the business hours sign. It just basically boiled down to if I'm here or home it's open, if not, then we are closed. You could basically go any time on any day and if he wasn't sitting in the shop or outside on the picnic table a quick knock on the door would do the job. Mostly his wife Betty would answer as Jack was back listening to some music as he loved to do. Going to Jack's was sort of our coffee shop ride. We would ride over if we needed something and when it was nice just sit outside at the picnic table and chat.
Lastly he was always there to give you a deal. Just because something had a price on it doesn't exactly mean that is what it would cost. I could go there and pick up two items that cost $9.99 each and he would say just give me $15 and we will call it good. It's really helpful when you don't have much money, but there are so many things you need to buy.
Another thing I'll remember is doing the Jack's Halfway to St. Patrick's day Ride from Bay City to Clare, with a stop in Stanford for lunch/ice cream. It was the first long rides I did. Everyone who would do it would ride together the whole 60miles and get a room at the hotel. That afternoon and night everyone would hang out down in the bar/restaurant, drink, eat, and cha just about everything. Like I said you knew Jack well, but also all the other customers. It was a giant family. Then the next day you would all ride back. I probably was hardly 14 the first time, and I remember how cool I thought I was for riding that long. Great times.
There is one more thing I have to say and I really didn't want to put this at the end because it is much more then a footnote. Jack along with my Grandpa David Flaherty and Papa Eugene Rytlewski were part of what I easily consider the greatest generation as they fought in WWII. Jack was in the Navy and was a member of the US Army's 149th Special Combat Engineers on the June 6th, 1944, participating in the D-Day Invasion at Omaha Beach, Normandy. I think it is very important to remember all those who served during this time. Thanks!
Hanging out at the shop with Jack, his grandson Nick, my Dad, and Forrest.
The Rite Aid Pro Team on sponsored Fuji bikes, which Jack sold, and Jack with his original Fuji road bike out front by the sign.
Thanks for everything Jack! You will be missed.