Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Ride Report: Hockey Heaven is in...Michigan?! My journey to Perani's Hockey World

10.30.2010

Ride Report: Hockey Heaven is in...Michigan?! My journey to Perani's Hockey World

I decided yesterday to hop on Eleanor and shoot straight up to Flint, MI to see the Perani's Hockey World location there. I received a hot tip to visit that place after going to the North Olmstead, OH location last year and speaking to an employee who then told me that the Flint location was filled with "nostalgia and random old hockey stuff hanging off of walls." Sounded like fun. The catch? Weather was going to be anywhere from 45-50°F during daylight hours to the mid-30s in the evening, which would be a slight problem at prolonged highway speeds. I went through all my warm gear suited myself up with the following:

Top:
BIKERS COMFORT IN ACTION ST-Wind Balaclava
Schampa Warmskin Skinny Shirt
The North Face Technical Fleece Jacket
Gerbings T-5 Heated Gloves
Aerostitch Roadcrafter Jacket

Bottom:
Schampa Warmskin Skinny Pant
Vega Meridian Pants
Aerostitch Darien Pants
Alpinestars Web Gore-Tex Boots

Additionally, my Garmin Zumo 550 that had served me well for the last 65,000 miles had been sent back to Garmin after screen failure in Chicago. So, in its place, I rigged my HTC Incredible phone to the bike using a Universal PDA clamp mount from RAM Mounts to my bike and connected its power via the rarely-used 12V plug inside my front driver's compartment and an extremely slim 12V to USB adapter so I could use its navigation and listen to the very free (and very awesome) Pandora Internet Radio. This isn't a waterproof setup by any means; but it was just fine because there was no chance for precipitation at all.


I set off for Michigan about 11AM and rode straight north on US-23, stopping for a little bit at Thiel's Wheels, a multi-brand motorcycle dealership in Upper Sandusky. This is definitely a place I'd like to return to sometime; it's not every day when the two general managers of a store would put down whatever they're doing and give you a full front and back tour of the place and talk bike with you for nearly half an hour. Thiel's just started carrying Triumph Motorcycles this year and I got to see the new 2011 Triumph Sprint GT on their showroom floor. That deserves another blog post.

I finally made it to the Flint, MI location a little after 4PM. It's located inside the Dort Mall, an old shopping center filled with lots of nostalgic decor and signs. Before entering the store, I was greeted by an early model Zamboni.




As soon as I enter the store, my jaw drops to the floor with the amount of gear, accessories, and old stuff on display. I have a chat with an employee who's not only a goalie like me but just happens to be the first cousin of Anaheim Ducks player Cam Fowler.

Yeah, this place is huge!

The skate display takes up an entire wall and then some.

Some early Cooper street hockey gear hanging from the rafters.

I couldn't even imagine taking a shot wearing stuff like this.

A throwback jersey of the Cincinnati Cyclones and old jerseys of Dino Ciccarelli (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Grant Fuhr (Buffalo Sabres). I think there's an IHL Detroit Vipers jersey back there too.

Here are some strange sticks with offset blades. I don't know how that goalie stick would work nowadays...it looks like a giant golf putter.

That's just one part of the player hockey stick section.

Vaughn makes retro-looking waffle-board blockers? Cool!

There's a replica set of the gear that made Jaroslav Halak famous in last year's playoffs.

There's my first look at Warrior's new goalie equipment line.

And then someone says to me, "Have you been to the one in Livonia? That one is even bigger than this one! In fact, it's the largest hockey store in the world."

I perused around for a few more minutes and then hi-tailed it back south on US-23 to the Livonia, MI location. Hey look, it's Eleanor!


This place is huge. For being the "World's Largest Hockey Store," it's fitting that it occupies an old Toys-R-Us building. It makes up for its lack of nostalgic material by its massive amount of gear.




Looks like they make infant-sized goalie equipment. Glove next to it is to scale.

Additionally, this store also has an indoor synthetic ice half-rink for testing skates, birthday parties, and surface rental for "ice" time. Yeah, there's a rink inside a hockey store. Whoda thunk it?

For dinner, I headed over to a Cracker Barrel about 11 miles away and had some grilled trout. Yummy. Even though I do enjoy Cracker Barrel quite a bit, I would've gone for something a bit more local and exotic than that if I had the time. But on a trip where I needed all my wits and warmth to get home, it's a little more comforting to go a place where the food is always well-cooked and tasty.

Yeah, I definitely wasn't in Ohio.

The ride back to Columbus was quite chilly. At times, my bike's thermometer read 34°F (it always posts 2-4°F above actual temps) and I could feel my toes go numb in my boots. So after dealing with that for over two straight hours, it was nice to get home and curl up in bed...much warmer.

Anyway, for your own little piece of hockey heaven, Perani's Hockey World has 19 locations in five U.S. States and Ontario, Canada. You can also go to their website at http://www.peranis.com/ to drool even further. Believe me, I've been doing that online for the last 14 years. It was definitely a dream to finally see the two largest stores in the entire chain.