I've seen a variety of fences in the country - from white picket to barbed wire - but the fence in front of J.B. Burgtorf's place is one of a kind.

It's lined with bicycles.

"You'd be amazed by how many people stop and just take pictures of that fence," Burgtorf says.

But the fence isn't simply a photo opp; it's also an advertisement for his bike business. He refurbishes and sells used bikes. He repairs bikes. He builds custom bikes.

"I do about everything there is to do with a bicycle," he says.

Burgtorf says he's always been a tinkerer. He's worked for Ford and Lincoln motor companies and ran his own auto repair shop in Illinois. He also served for six years in the Air Force, including working on computers at NORAD. After the Air Force, he worked in heavy construction. And it was while he was on the road, working on projects across the country, that he started tinkering with bikes.

"I found that I could work on bikes in a motel room or in temporary housing because I would be three months one place, then three months somewhere else," he says.

Burgtorf, who grew up in a farming community in central Illinois, has lived in the Falcon area since 1997, where he has "all kinds of animals," including horses, a goat, cats and dogs.

"I like country living," he says. "I don't care for the towns."

He's retired, except for his bike business - and even that, he says, is more of a hobby. He posts his card in Falcon-area businesses but, other than that, relies on word of mouth.

"You don't make enough money to call it a business," he says. "But it's fine, I enjoy it."

Bikes are everywhere on the property; he figures he has 300 to 400. He finds them at garage sales, flea markets, the side of the road. Many otherwise would be headed for the scrap heap. But there can be treasures among the bike ruins - brand names such as Trek, Bianchi and Raleigh.

"If I'm buying a bike like at the flea market or at Goodwill, I'll look for a name brand, not a typical Wal-Mart brand bike or anything like that," Burgtorf says.

He also has uncovered some classic bikes from the past - true collectibles - but they're tough to find. "Especially now, with your 'American Pickers,' everybody thinks these old bikes are worth a lot of money," he says. In reality, the value depends on various factors, particularly condition. He points to an old Hiawatha bike recovered from a ditch in Ellicott.

"That's pre-World War II," he says, "but the frame's been broke, so it's just pretty much a lawn ornament."

Burgtorf sells children's bikes typically for $30 or less; adult bikes start at $40. He particularly delights in equipping kids with bikes.

"You got a lot of kids without bikes," he says, "and money being tight the way it is, they can't go out and spend $2,000 on a bicycle."

People come to him not only for bikes, but bike parts.

"It's amazing what people use the parts for," he says. "I've got a guy, he'll stop by a couple of times a year and pick up smaller wheels; he makes wind generators out of them."

Some people buy old frames for trellises for flowers; one man bought some frames for "some kind of bullride training system."

Burgtorf is a cyclist, though, at 58, he says he doesn't ride nearly as much as he used to and doesn't do anything you'd consider "serious riding." Still, he test-rides everything he puts together and rides "pretty much every day." On occasion, he says, he'll ride from Falcon to Manitou Springs and back.

That long of a ride sounded pretty "serious" to me, I told him.

"Aww, no, that's a nice outing," he said.


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