What’s All the Hub, Bub?

hub bicyclePhoto by Jess Benjamin

Her Inman Square cycle shop shuttered earlier this yearmuch to the sorrow of Boston’s bike community. What’s Emily Thibodeau up to now?

When Emily Thibodeau posted on Facebook that she would close Hub Bicycle Co. in April, the comments went something like this:

“Wow. End of an era.”
“This is worse than finding a new PCP!”
“Because of Hub, I met my fiancee and so many amazing friends.”

Today, the Twitter bio for Was Hub Bicycle reads, “Used to be a bike shop, now just a regular-ass woman who loves bikes, dogs, drawing pictures, coffee and donuts.”

Last year, we profiled Thibodeau for “A Show of Hands,” a feature about Cantabrigians working in manual trades, so we know she’s special—and missed. We were wondering what she was up to IRL, so we headed to her home in Watertown to find out the story behind the closure and what the “new adventure” is she’s talking about on social media.

Want to hear the hubbub? You can! In this story, we’re introducing audio to the Scout repertoire. Click the files below to hear about the couple who got engaged at Hub and let Thibodeau tell you what she’s up to in her own words.

Scout Cambridge: So what happened? Why did you close?

Emily Thibodeau: I’ve been asked that all the time, every day, since I announced that I was closing. And it’s because I didn’t want to do it anymore. I had a great time, but it was time to do something else. Yeah, I just ran out of energy for it. I feel like I accomplished what I had wanted to, and I was ready to do something else.

SC: The tagline for Hub was “Crashing the bike industry’s sausage fest since 2010.” Is that what you came to do?

ET: I feel like there are definitely more women-owned shops now, so that party’s been crashed. The reason I started the shop was because I felt like, in general, bike shops didn’t have a great reputation for customer service or for treating people like people, and that went doubly so for women. It happens less now, but in like, 2008, 2009, I’d go into bike shops, and people would look past me.

SC:What’s gotten better, and what’s stayed the same?

ET: It seems like there are more people riding, and the group of people riding has gotten more diverse. I think there’s still a lot of improvement that can still be made, but it feels like, at least, there are more women riding and more people of color riding and hopefully finding it to be a welcoming community.

What’s stayed the same? The bike industry is still not an easy business to be in. It’s still a lot of work. There’s still, definitely, a bro culture.

SC: What do you think Cambridge needs to do, and what Boston needs to do, to make cycling safer and more popular for people here?

ET: I think the next thing is going to be better-separated infrastructure. Cambridge is doing a good job. The little protected lane on Mass Ave. in Central Square is great. If there were more things like that, that would go a long way to encourage more people to ride.

SC: So what are you doing? Like, what is this new adventure?

ET: I don’t know yet! I’m really just figuring it out. I was able to set myself up to take the summer off, which I haven’t done—I mean, this is the time of the year where I’ve been the busiest for the last seven years. Getting to ride my bike during nice weather has been really great. And for what I’m doing next, I don’t know. I think there are opportunities for me to continue to do something with bikes, but also it may be good to just take a break. So we’ll see. I’m taking a few art classes for fun.

SC: Painting, drawing?

ET: Right now I’m taking digital illustration and a drawing class at MassArt, which is great—I get to be that continuing ed student, the oldest lady in the classroom, but that’s fine. One of the things I like about it is that it’s a skill—like, I spent a very long time working on bikes, so I feel very confident in my skills around building bikes and fixing them and diagnosing problems. So the thing that I’ve found that I really like about drawing is that I’m not super good at it right now.

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 200 locations throughout the city or by subscription.

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