Fast Folks – Natalie Goforth
If we were writing this story about Katie, it would begin with a vibrant local who led her to secret meetings under the neighborhood magnolia trees. The romance would tragically end as the result of an affair on the streets of Charleston with a cruiser named Bonnie, who was quickly declared dead after a [partial] kidnapping.
For Jessie, it was a fleeting flame much later in life. It was about the experience, not the connection. She didn’t even know his name. They spent a warm, summer day together on the hills of Switzerland. Once she laid out on that sweet lawn of bike-ridery, she had a short story to tell, and that was that.
But this is Natalie Goforth’s story. It’s one of unexpected and lasting commitment.
Natalie had been in love before, but her first, life-changing romance began on Craig’s List. For about a year prior to this modern meet-up, Natalie had been living relatively cautiously. Who could blame her? She was scarred after the road bike who promised to protect her lost the battle against a pothole. On her friend’s recommendation, Natalie picked herself up and went on a blind date with The Pink Panther, a fixed-gear that would be the game-changer. “You don’t take yourself so seriously when you’re riding fixed,” she explains.
This was just the release that Natalie needed. Although they weren’t a perfect fit, Natalie and The Pink Panther continued their relationship for quite some time. The two grew apart organically, but the mark she left on Natalie was significant. “It totally changed my life,” Natalie says of riding fixed for the first time.
Before she opened Fast Folks, Natalie was sitting pretty in the marketing world and spending all of her free time and cash on her bikes. “All my great, great thoughts come to me when I’m riding,” Natalie mocks herself. “It gives me focus, and that’s why I like it.” When her time as a marketing guru came to an end, it made sense for Natalie to put her trust in the thing that brought her most clarity. So she opened Austin’s first, full-service bike boutique, in 2009. Her vision was to open a specialty store where her friends could paint on the walls and hang out.
Natalie couldn’t give us an exact definition of the name Fast Folks, but we understood Natalie’s “fastness” almost immediately. We all met at the shop on a Saturday morning. As expected, everything and everyone on the eastside was still recovering from the night before. A few cars and Natalie were the only exceptions, and she was already well into her fast-moving morning when she got in. She was up at 6:15 that day, went to yoga at 7:00 and then took her dog Ellie on a playdate with her one and only friend, a 115 lb shepherd named Guapo. “I’m one of those people who needs a lot of stimulation,” she laughs. It’s worth mentioning that Natalie has an unrivaled ability to make tangents just as interesting and worthwhile as the stories from which they came… likely because even her story transitions are fast.
Natalie’s friends and/or the Austin community were at the center of every story she deemed worth telling. There was also a consistent element of chance in her tales. Here’s an example for y’all:
Natalie was painting the steps at her first shop when local designer, Ryan Rhodes, stopped in front of her on his bike. He asked the [sort of] stranger about the new addition to the neighborhood. They got to chatting about the store, and one thing lead to another. By the end of the conversation, Natalie had coerced Ryan into designing a Fast Folks logo. She had one request: “I want some fixed gear art that doesn’t look like eggs on a plate.” Ryan created the unforgettable, Dia De Los Muertos/fixed-gear face in less than 48 hours.
Local artists Adrian Brooks, Dang! and Failure also have original work on the store’s walls. She raved about the artists. Her vision for the store was always collaborative, not unlike the cycling community itself. “It’s crazy to think that you have all these people who live their lives totally differently,” she says about a group of cyclists who participated in a Bikes, Babes and Gardens ride. “This is the one thing you have in common with them – you ride your bike.”
At the root of it all is still a girl who took her friend’s advice and fell in love. Her reach is greater now, but it’s still about bikes and the life you can have with them. “When I’m on my bike, I feel 100 times better.”