Stepping into Revolution Cycles, reggae music flows through the air between scents of bicycle tires and grease. Hard at work is shop owner Jeff Fitzgerald, who fixes and cleans bikes on repair stands.
The store located at 2086 Atwood Ave. has been Fitzgerald's "baby" and project for several years.
"Growing up, I had friends who worked at bike shops, and I hung out in bike shops near my house … [it] really shaped me," Fitzgerald said of his experience.
Fitzgerald, who went to school at the University of Wisconsin before leaving for New York City, had originally intended to become a bicycle messenger. After he was discouraged from this potentially dangerous job, Fitzgerald moved back to Madison and began working at bike shops.
He started as an employee at Revolution Cycles in 1999 and bought the shop from the original owners the following year.
"[It was] just an exploration, so to speak," Fitzgerald said of his work. "But I kept finding that Madison was my favorite place to be … I was always the happiest here, it just seemed to be the best fit for me."
Through his shop, he also wants to try and promote a "healthy culture, as opposed to a 'look-good' culture."
"I definitely have a master plan, and that is to completely subvert the auto culture," he said. "I'm definitely trying to encourage and get more people to ride their bike."
Additionally, Fitzgerald teaches eighth graders at Senate Middle School in Monona how to work on and repair bikes, with the help of teacher David Wasserman.
"He knows what he's talking about, it's his field," Wasserman said of Fitzgerald. "He's a really nice bridge between the technical side and relating to the kids."
A bike enthusiast himself, Wasserman created the course as a combination of his personal interests and desires to teach students the value of bicycles. So Fitzgerald offered his expertise.
"Often you have someone who's great with the kids, but doesn't know much, or the other way around," Wasserman said. "Having both components is really not an easy thing."
In the future, Fitzgerald says he hopes to teach more classes at the shop. He also has ideas about turning it into a kid-run, adult-supervised operation in the morning hours when business is usually slow. This would allow kids in the community to get experience with more hands-on type of work, he said.
Fitzgerald said he also believes in the importance of making environmentally conscious choices and he expressed concerns about urban sprawl and increased car use.
"We've de-emphasized the idea of living in a community, of living in an area where you work, where you shop, and live your recreational life," he said.
Fitzgerald said he seems himself as involved with the bike culture, but still retaining his own sense of individuality — a healthy aspect of his life.