This month we had a chat with a longtime friend of Pedal Movement’s, Marco Cruz of Cruz Cyclez! If there’s a bike event in the greater Long Beach area, there’s a good chance you’ll find Marco there helping someone out with a quick adjustment and spreading his love for bikes with the world.
Pedal Movement – How long have you been riding bikes? How’d you get into bikes in the first place?
Marco Cruz – I’ve been riding for 26 yrs. Ever since my first bike I was fascinated by it. The fact that I could use my legs like I was running but travel 3 times as fast!? It was instant freedom!
PM – What was your first bike, and what are you riding now?
Cruz – My first bike was a Magna Free Ride. I have quite a few bikes but currently I ride a 2008 K2 Mach 2 which was the first road bike I ever purchased.
PM – How did you get into wrenching on bikes?
Cruz – Since I was in middle school, I was constantly restoring old junky bikes my dad would bring home that he found on the street. Yet I still had not understood how to true a wheel or tune a derailleur, so I still had to take it to the neighborhood shop. One day I ran into a car and bent my rim. I took it to the local shop and asked to rebuild the front wheel and give it a tune up. They had my bike for 2 weeks and only built the wheel, no tune up! I was so angry! As my bike was my main mode of transportation to school and part time job, 2 weeks and $100+ for half the work was a not something I wanted to go through again. Since that day I took on the attitude that “if you want something done right you gotta do it yourself”. Ironically, a nonprofit community bike shop had opened 2 weeks later in Long Beach called The Hub, and there my journey began.
PM – What maintenance do you think people should absolutely know how to do on their own bike?
Cruz – A few skills that all riders should equip themselves with are:
1. Learn how to replace an inner tube. So many rides can be spoiled by a popped inner tube and having an extra tube, tool kit, and knowledge can make the difference of a spoiled ride or keeping the party rolling.
2. Lube you chain with proper chain lube. NOT WD40. I here so many squeaky chains on the road I fear my ears are going to pop. Any local bike shop will have proper chain lube.
3. Check your tire pressure before you go riding. No matter what, over time air will leak out your tube. Air pressure under the recommended rating for your tire (which is normally located on the wall of the tire) can lead to a pinch flat. So, without any thorn or nails your tire will pinch on itself and cause a small leak. Be sure to get a good pump with a gauge.
PM – Tell me about Cruz Cycles—what motivated you to start your own shop?
Cruz – Ten years ago, I wanted to pursue the dream of owning my own bike shop and support the cycling community. Yet I had A LOT to learn. After working at many different shops, I learned little bits that worked and didn’t and saw that every shop was uniquely different to one another. Over time I saw how my bosses would create their own style and approach to the cycling world. After a while I began to develop my own sense of approach. I knew then that I had to contribute in my own way in my own style and do my own thing.
PM – And your tagline: “Let’s get you rollin” – what’s the story behind that?
Cruz – “Let’s get you rollin” came from an inside joke my nephew and I use to have about a video game called Borderlands there’s a part in the game where you acquire a vehicle from a mechanic. Every time your character goes to his shop, he always opens with, “lets’ get you rollin!” in a funny accent. Since then we started using it every time we’d work on each other’s bikes. Later on after his passing I decided to keep our joke running an share it with everyone else.
PM – What’s something people don’t realize about starting a business? What’s the hardest part? What’s the most rewarding part?
Cruz – Something people don’t realize about starting a business as that you should really know your market, know the craft, and be able to understand if it’s actually a worthy idea. There are a lot of ideas that we have in our heads not all of them are worthy. Study other business owners and see what does and doesn’t work for them and also see whether they are truly happy or not in the business they own.
The hardest part is getting rest. I sleep but I rarely get mental rest. There is always so much work, so much energy, and so much time being used to run a business. So, it can be hard at times not to stretch myself too thin. I have to constantly take advantage of breaks whenever I get them.
The most rewarding is that I’m in control of my time. I’m always busy and yet always available for any opportunity I find in life. I get to meet, see, and support so many different types of people that I learn new ways of living. It really enriches my life.
PM – How do bikes and community fit together for you?
Cruz – They fit together like peanut butter and jelly. Riding a bike is freeing fun experience for most people. When you get to share it with others and learn about there riding experience and bonding on your similarities and differences. It’s one of the greatest experiences because no matter whether you’re a lawyer, an uber driver, or a small business owner etc. you’re still just a person who likes to ride their bike with other cool people who like to ride their bike too!
PM – What would you say to someone getting into bikes for the first time? Any words of wisdom or things you wish you’d have known?
Cruz – I would say be over cautious, wear a helmet and make some riding friends! If you don’t have friends yet try and find a group ride near you. As far as wisdom I’d like to quote the great Albert Einstein who once said: “Life is like a riding a bicycle. To keep balance you must keep moving.”