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"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out (that) going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity."
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 7 July 2018  

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Bill Radford

  The Bike Guy
  By Bill Radford

   Look for additions soon to the famed bike fence on Curtis Road. The fence is already lined with bicycles on the east side. Now, J.B. Burgtorf, aka "The Bike Guy," plans to tackle the south fence.
   
   Burgtorf has plenty of bicycles to choose from: 500 to 600 used bikes dot his property. He said they come from everywhere - flea markets, garage sales and ditches. "I've got these guys that clean up properties that bring them over to me,” he added.
   
   Burgtorf repairs and sells them, along with building custom bikes. He also is a reliable source of bike parts that might be hard to find elsewhere.
   
   For the 60-year-old Burgtorf, it is more a hobby than a retirement business –- but a hobby that has become "overextended," he said. Usually, he gets a break in the winter months, but this winter was so mild that people kept riding –- and requests for repairs kept pouring in.
   
   "It takes a lot of my time anymore, but I still enjoy it,” Burgtorf said. “I can get up every day and work on them, and it doesn't bother me a bit." However, it leaves him little time for fishing and golfing. "Not that I'm a good golfer,” he said. “But I enjoy it."
   
   Burgtorf has always had a flair for repair. He worked for Ford and Lincoln in the mid-1970s, then had his own auto repair shop in Illinois before entering the U.S. Air Force. After that, he worked in heavy construction, helping to build hotels. It was then that he started tinkering with bikes in his spare time.
   
   "I'd pick up a bicycle here or a bicycle there and put it together in my quarters, or even my job trailer," Burgtorf said.
   
   With new brake systems, new materials and more; working on the bikes requires a continuing education. "They get more technical all the time, so you really have to keep up with that,” Burgtorf said. “A bicycle isn't necessarily just a bicycle anymore."
   
   His prices for the smallest kids' bike start at about $20; adult bikes begin at around $45. He enjoys working on upper-end bikes. “They're more serviceable and they're worth repairing,” Burgtorf said. But he also works on less expensive bikes.
   
   "I've got all price ranges," he said. "They can spend as little or as much as they want." He also has donated lots of kids' bikes over the years, partnering with charities and school districts.
   More people are seeking classic bikes, Burgtorf said. "When I get the real quality older bikes, I've got people I'll call. But they're usually looking for something really pristine, like a classic car. I've got a lot of old ones, but they really aren't worth anything."
   
   Some people have suggested he raise his prices - and thus his profit margin. But, he said, "I've done my working for money. I've chased a dollar. I don't need to do that right now."
   
   Burgtorf, who grew up in a small Illinois community, has lived in Falcon for about 20 years. "I like the country,” he said. "I don't like towns."
   
   The bike fence serves as advertising, but it began with a different purpose in mind.
   
   "A lot of time at night I'll let the horses out on the front of the property," Burgtorf said. "They would lean through the front fence and were pushing my fence, and I thought, man, I need to strengthen that or those horses are going to be out on the road. It makes a sturdy fence."
  
J.B. Burgtorf repairs bikes, refurbishes and sells used bikes; and builds custom bikes. He has 500 to 600 used bikes on his property.
 
The fence in front of J.B. Burgtorf’s place is lined with bicycles. Photos by Bill Radford
 
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