Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Sho Nuff – Owner of the Most Fly Ride in Town

UPDATE:  Russell Lee passed away this past Sunday. Read more here.

I first met Russell Lee (aka “Sho Nuff”) at 1304 Bikes around a year ago, and then later on the First Friday bike rides. I’ve also seen him in passing a few times at several area bars, but it was only a few weeks ago that I first talked with him to learn a bit more about the man on the awesome bike.

Riding a unique bicycle isn’t a new phenomenon for Sho Nuff, he’s been tricking them out since the late 1960s. Back then, he had one one with a CB radio and full antenna powered by a car battery. These days, he’s exploring options to utilize an iPod and amplifier. Equipped with a pump, patch kits, spare tubes, tools, and replacement parts, he is prepared for any situation.

Now retired at 66, he shows no sign whatsoever of slowing down. In addition to volunteering at 1304 Bikes, he is also part of a four-piece 60s-influenced R&B group. This group, named Souls of the Past, has most recently played at Sadlack’s Heroes.  He described it as an oldies-influenced blues band with a new style. Before moving to Raleigh 9 years ago, he lived in Jersey and had performed at several R&B shows at Fantasy East in NYC.

His current cheetah-print setup is on top of a base Raleigh frame. The materials used for both his bike and matching outfits are obtained locally and hand-sewn, so it is certainly a labor of love. His dedication to style and flair certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed, however. In 4 out of the past 4 years, he has won awards (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) for “Best Customized Bike” from the annual Ray Price Capital City Bike Fest. So far, his is the only bicycle to win such an award from the motorcycle event.

Be on the lookout come Springtime, as he will then unveil his newest project: a zebra-print bike with matching outfits.

Russell has a very positive attitude and outlook on life. He’s constantly sharing the wisdom he’s gained over the years to the younger crowd that he comes in contact with. He shared three brief and important pieces of advice to me:

  1. When you’re fast, you don’t last
  2. When you’re slow you won’t blow
  3. Don’t get lost in the sauce

All three have multiple meanings on multiple levels and can apply to many situations.

He also has advice for fellow cyclists: Wear a helmet and use plenty of lights. As he put it: “Be seen and make sure they see you”.

Russell is currently working on starting a bike club that will hit the streets en masse more frequently than the once a month First Friday rides. Tentatively titled “Wheels in the Wind”, the idea is to increase awareness and increase communication between fellow cyclists. Stop by 1304 on a Sunday afternoon or Thursday evening some time to discuss it with him and find out more information.

When asked about his motivation in customizing bikes in the way he has, he nonchalantly responded with: “You only live once, right? Why not make it interesting?”

Sure enough, Sho Nuff is right–we do only live once. Make it interesting.


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