After a stint wandering the West Coast, the owner of the only bike and repair shop in Rim Country, Bicycle Adventures (formerly Hike, Bike and Run), has returned to his roots.
Turns out those roots run deeper than many know.
Mick Wolf is related to one of Payson’s most famous founding fathers — Arizona Charlie Meadows, whose family died in an Indian raid and who helped launch the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.
Seems Wolf’s life has intertwined with Meadows’ life for years.
“My connection to Arizona Charlie starts in 2005 when I randomly decided to drive up to Skagway, Alaska to work the summer there. I had no clue about the town, the history, the culture or what all was offered there. I just knew Skagway had a lot of summer jobs, and that I wanted to be in Alaska.
“When I got up there, my dad relayed to me that one of my grandma’s (my dad’s mom’s) direct relatives was infamous for heading up through Skagway and into the Klondike Region of the Yukon Territory during the gold rush of the late 1800s.
“My dad said his name was Arizona Charlie, and that he had a hotel or two named after him (I think one is in the Yukon and one is in Canada). I learned a little about Arizona Charlie while up in Alaska, but didn’t think too much about it.”
Mick and his wife, Jackie, left Skagway in the summer of 2007 and driving through Payson on a whim decided to settle in. “We stayed and ended up opening up Hike, Bike & Run on Nov. 1, 2007. When my grandma heard that we moved to Payson, she said Arizona Charlie was one of the founding fathers of Payson, and that his dad and brother were killed there (and that) they were the first two people to be buried in the Payson Pioneer Cemetery,” wrote Wolf in an e-mail.
Now he’s back in Rim Country where Arizona Charlie moved at 17 to settle and raise his family. He ended up promoting the start of the Payson Rodeo, originally held on a roped-off Main Street.
Mick’s bike shop is a family affair — just as the Diamond Valley Ranch was for Charlie and his 12 brothers and sisters.
On a recent sunny afternoon in his shop, Wolf answers the phone and works on bikes while outside the shop, his wife Jackie talks to a friend as his two oldest boys, Logan and Austin, toss a football. His youngest son, Tobin, and only daughter, MacKenzie, play with the family dog, Taco.
Not only does the shop have a new name, it has a new location in the Sawmill Crossing complex and shiny new credentials Wolf earned from the United Bicycle Institute in Oregon. Wolf is now a certified bicycle technician and advanced wheel builder.
“Now that it’s warmed up, it’s been real busy,” says Wolf, head bent to examine a bike.
Wolf and his family returned to Payson after a journey to see family in the Mid-west and a bicycle ride from Oregon to Mexico.
The community has welcomed him back.
On a recent Facebook post he wrote, “It’s kind of cool how many so many of you in Payson have welcomed us back using the words ‘Welcome Home!’ We’re definitely feeling a stronger sense of community this second time around!”
Wolf and his family decided to return after the buyer of the shop, Phil Ryder, had to let go of the business due to a family illness.
Suddenly Wolf looks up to see an older gentleman looking at the bikes.
“May I help you?” he asks.
“Do you sell bikes on consignment?” asks the man.
“Yes, if I can sell it. Why don’t you bring it down and I’ll take a look to see if I can help you,” Wolf said.
“Well, it’s a road bike I bought when I lived in Denver for $600 and now I just don’t ride,” said the man.
As the man left shop, Wolf said he could probably sell it easily.
The re-opened shop has an unmistakable community feel and spaciousness the other location lacked. Regulars come in to hang out and reconnect with the bicycle lover.
“We’re working with other riders to start up organized rides,” said Wolf.
He hopes to have a weekly road and mountain bike rides. During summer Saturdays, he plans to host mountain bike rides on the Rim.
His hiatus has restored his excitement over the business. Wolf has lots of stories to tell of his six-week ride from Washington State to the Mexico border.
The biggest challenge, said his wife Jackie, was that he lost his cell phone in the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. She was providing support and supplies in the car and had relied on his cell phone to keep track of him.
“That caused a lot of stress,” she said — and adventures.
Wolf said he was waiting for her in a coffee shop in Central California when a guy walked up to him and asked if he was riding down the coast. “When I told him yes, he told me my wife was in the last town upset and crying ’cause she couldn’t find me. I asked if I could borrow his phone, called her and we finally met up,” said Wolf.
While he’s happy to talk about his adventures, these days he loves to talk about the shop.
“We’ve brought in one of the biggest bike lines in the bicycle industry — Cannondale.
“Now, we are a Cannondale, GT and KHS dealer. We are also in the process of bringing in a full run of Electra bicycles. We also sell Yeti and Ellsworth.”
The focus of the store is bicycles-skateboards-hiking. We still plan to sell Merrell shoes, Darn Tough socks, and National Geographic maps,” said Mick.
His ancestor, Charlie would be proud that Mick followed in his footsteps by becoming a business owner and promoter of events, such as the Payson Rodeo Charlie started.
Though both riders, Mick’s focus is not on horses, but bikes. He was instrumental in sponsoring the first Fire on the Rim Mountain Bike Race in Pine.
He also plans on reviving a mountain bike festival he had before he left Payson.
Must be fate he’s following in Arizona Charlie’s steps.
“Either way, I’ve always thought there has to be a reason that the last two towns I randomly picked to live in were towns Arizona Charlie had a big connection to.”
Welcome back, Mick.