Sprockets and Spokes

Coco Blood has what you need to build a bicycle

Story and photos by BRADY MOORE

Mention the word bike in St. Ignatius, Mont., and you’re likely to receive directions straight to Coco Blood’s house on St. Mary’s Lake Road. With nearly 400 bikes in the small yard, her blue house is hard to miss.

She began building bikes in the early ’80s. It started as a hobby but quickly turned into a full-time job. The work of finding, collecting and repairing her growing collection of two-wheelers eventually blossomed into a labor of love.

Coco lives with her husband, Charlie, who enjoys his wife’s work nearly as much as she does. He helps when he can, collecting bikes and bringing them back to their home.

Coco was in high school, working as a “candy girl” at the local movie theater, when she and Charlie met. From that moment they were nearly inseparable. The couple met for dates at the local diner, where they drank coffee and laughed and chatted for hours. The diner’s employees later admitted they thought Coco and Charlie were drunk, when in reality they were just enjoying each other’s company.

Coco’s yard, bursting with frames, proved too small to contain her hobby, so she had to build an additional workshop. The new shop is insulated and has a concrete floor, allowing her to work comfortably during the harsh St. Ignatius winters.

If you’re in the market for a bike, take a quick stroll around Coco’s yard. Pick out a frame that fits, put down a small deposit, and in a few days you’ll be pedaling a fresh new ride.

You will also be helping Coco manage her inventory.

“I’m just trying to get rid of the bikes,” she said.