Generally, when someone decides to move across the country, the first order to business is to package everything up into a moving van and hit the open road. However, Michael Martin, the Senior Manager at the downtown branch of Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life, elected to try something different: sell all of his belongings and bike from Pennsylvania to Eugene, Oregon and settle down in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
“I had already ridden [my bike] across the country a couple of years before,” says Martin. “This time, I was determined to come out here and stay.”
Stay he did, as Martin has been living in the Eugene area for almost the past 30 years, and it is where he met his future wife and stepdaughter.
Biking has always been one of Martin’s passions in life, which is why he feels fortunate to be working at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life.
“I love bicycles, so the opportunity to do work that is involved with something that I love to do is very rewarding,” says Martin, as he focused on adjusting different parts of the bike that sit atop his workbench.
Martin also views the service work and bicycle repairing aspect of his job to be rewarding as well. He loves communicating his enthusiasm that he has for cycling to other people in hope that it will make a difference in someone else’s life.
But how Michael ended up at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life is what’s truly remarkable.
Martin met Paul Nicholson, the current owner of Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life, on his bicycle trip to Oregon, who was running a bike shop near the campus of the University of Illinois at the time. As it turned out, Nicholson and his family moved west to Eugene a year after Martin did, which allowed the two to become reacquainted.
Martin was in Eugene for three years prior working in the food business. But when he finally burned out and was looking for a little bit of a change, Paul contacted Matin saying that he was planning on opening a bike store and would love to have him run it.
Since then, Martin has been enjoying his time working at Paul’s Bicycle Way of life, along with the responsibilities that come with it.
According to their official job titles, Martin and Rod Bautista, the other manager at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life, are in charge of the entire store. However, they split their duties, so Martin is in charge of dealing with people in the front of the store, while Bautista focuses on inventory and scheduling the staff.
“We also clean up after everybody,” laughs Martin as he and Bautista joked about the unappealing duties that come with being the store managers. “We’re actually their mothers; they should have bought us gifts on Mothers day.”
And as Bautista describes it, they’re just the guys in the apartment whose names are actually on the lease, and everyone else just sublets.
Working at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life can also be very stressful because the store is generally very busy. This holds especially true for Martin, who spends the majority of his shift working in the front of the store dealing with the general public.
Martin has a humorous side to him. He doesn’t try to hide it either; even with people he just met.
When asked if he could picture himself doing anything else, the first thing that popped into his head was being a lion tamer in the circus.
“Or you could work in air traffic control,” shouts Bautista, who was eavesdropping on the conversation between Martin and I.
However, one thing Martin can only dream about himself doing at the moment is living the retired life. And it’s a vision that he hopes to make a reality in the near future.
Martin doesn’t think he’ll be able to retire until he’s at least 70 years old, but ideally, he has aspirations he wants to fulfill before he reaches that point in his life.
Along with bicycling, Martin’s other interests include traveling, cooking and photography. So when he retires, he hopes to combine all of his interests into one activity: bike touring.
But for now, Martin will remain thankful that he is able to work in a profession that is also one of his passions.