Darien: Here we are again with the Musette Staff Spotlight! I’m joined by the multi-talented mechanic and photographer, Bobby Cata!
Jon in the distance: BABY C!
D: So how are you doing? I mean, it is the end of the day and it was a toasty one.
Bobby: Doing tired.
D: Can't blame you, so let’s start with the origin story, how did you come to work here at Recycled?
B: Well, it was a shop I always wanted to work at since moving up here I moved from southern California and after I came back from a brief stint in Chicago, I applied for a job here.
D: Who hired you back then?
B: It was Ted and he totally forgot he wanted to hire me apparently so I ended coming back a week after I applied and he was like “oh yeah! You should work here!”
D: This happened back in 2011?
D: That's a good chunk of years! What has kept you here working under the same roof?
B: It’s the variety of bikes and the great people. That's pretty much it. It’s pretty fun to work on the weird stuff that nobody else deals with.
D: That certainly the majority of stuff we deal with, the stuff "other places" won't deal with. So did you have any official certification prior to working here?
B: Yeah, I had completed the UBI (United Bicycles Institute) course in 2010 right before I came here from Chicago. I worked there for a bit at a Play-it-again Sports and then came over there soon after. Jon and I had started right after each other.
D: Yeah I think that was right before I started. So as a mechanic, what do you like seeing in your stand? What is fun to work on?
B: Honestly, the new stuff that is super techy. Y'know, the 11 speed stuff and basically, the stuff I don’t see all the time. I’ve seen a million “cool steel vintage racing bikes” and it all just kinda runs together. But the nicer stuff is more rare and more interesting too so I like to see what's new.
D: Yeah it’s funny that we work on the crazy old stuff that nobody else deals with but rarely see the fancy new stuff since those people typically have their own high-end shop they deal with for that stuff. When you do work on fancy projects for people, what sorts of tips do you prefer the most?
B: Oh man, when people bring me vegan treats… oh man I’ll do anything to your bike for vegan treats!
D: Yeah, US currency is typically less valuable here than a treats or beer.
B: Very true.
D: It’s just you and Ryan that are vegan, right?
B: Yeah there used to be five(!) of us at one time but that was a while ago when we had Annie, Tre and Ben working here.
D: When people give you a treat that you can't eat, what do you say?
B: Well, I try to just be kind and appreciative. I mean, they don’t know so it’s not really a big deal when somebody doesn't realize that I’m vegan and gets me a something with dairy in it.
D: So to talk about the cool new photos for a bit, you are taking the photos of the fancy bikes under our "classic vintage" page on our website and they are turning out super cool. How did you get into photography?
B: It’s what I originally went to school for but ended up hating the class and just wanted to leave California at the time and that's when I decided to move up to the Pacific Northwest. But I started out taking pictures at hardcore shows in L.A. which was a lot of fun in the early 2000’s
D: Man, hardcore shows much be a tough crowd to capture and shoot!
B: It really is, and that's the best to capture.
D: Where would you want to end up professionally in photography?
B: Well, event photography obviously, but I’m really just trying to shoot more and go through the motions. But this thing we are doing with the museum bikes has been a fun project.
D: Alright, so who makes the prettiest bikes?
B: I don’t really have a specific allegiance but just ones that have ornate lugs or crazy paint jobs. Like the Basso I have that transitions from green to purple with he letter “B”. Really cool and pretty unique in terms of the design.
D: Yeah I love the details on that thing. So to talk culture, what do you think about the bike share program we’ve got? Good? Bad?
B: To it's detriment, people don't really know or care to treat the bikes well and with regards to people getting around them. They leave them everywhere and it makes people think that cyclist are vandals or irresponsible because they leave the bikes in bad places that block or impede traffic. But, on the flip side, people are going to eventually buy their own bike if they ride a bike share long enough. And really, it’s just less people on the road. I hear of a lot of people that talk about them as car replacements for people with short commutes.
D: Didn't you drive today?
B: Yeah but it was because I was running late but I usually like to take the bus. I really like zoning out on the way to work and unless there is a crazy dude on the bus, it’s pretty peaceful.
D: Well, what is the bike you ride most often when you do?
B: The bike I ride the most is this pink and black carbon T-mobile team bike. I love the paint on it so much. It’s very janky though. Pretty much everything is broken on it.
D: That seems to be pretty typical with the mechanics I’ve interviewed. They all have bikes that are in rough shape or made with broken scrap parts.
B: Yeah, except for Travis.
D: Oh yeah! That's true! All his bike are super fancy and in perfect working order. Really top notch.
B: Yeah, I really want cycling to be something I escape too. I don’t like mixing my fun and my work as much. Taking pictures is how I escape now, which I like.
D: Yeah it’s really cool that we get such awesome subjects too! These bikes are beautiful and really don’t get a lot of appreciation since they are kinda hidden away on the ceiling. Are you trying to do more show photography, rather than this sort of "product" stuff?
B: Yeah but there just isn't a lot of bands I like right now. You take the best photos when you know the band and when in the music to take them.
D: Being able to take them down, clean them up and take well-lit photos of them, has been really doing them justice.
D: Well, thanks again Bobby. If anyone wants to see the photos, there are on the website now and we are doing them each month as part of the Musette so be on the lookout for those and if anyone has a suggestion for the next bike to be photographed, just reach out and let us know!
B: It’s been fun!