Charlie Tarver winds down as owner of Hub of Aspen
December 27, 2016
In the world according to Charlie Tarver, he knows of only one thing that's certain for his future: Saturday will be his last day as owner of the Hub of Aspen.
"I will not think about it until I'm done on Jan. 1," Tarver said last week.
Tarver has owned the Hub of Aspen bike shop since 1989, after buying it from founder Mark Joseph. The store will continue to operate from its same location at 315 E. Hyman Ave. under new ownership — Tarver wouldn't say whom — but without its mainstay at the helm for more than a quarter century.
"I made it so I never had to work," he said. "It was so much fun."
There was a time when days he didn't want to work were so few that he could count them on his two hands.
"The way to be able to ski forever is you had to be able to find something you loved to do," he said. "As long as I've had the Hub, I've only had to be at work six days when I didn't want to go to work."
Recommended Stories For You
That was before his life-changing crash in February 2002 at Snowmass Ski Area that left him with nine broken ribs, a broken clavicle and a collapsed lung. Tarver was charging nearly 100 miles per hour — on a bike — down the Slot run in an exhibition leading up to the U.S. National Speed Skiing Championships.
After he returned to the Hub, following surgeries and extensive rehab, Tarver still enjoyed his labor, just not as much as his former self.
"About three years ago it was 10 (days I didn't want to go to work)," he said. "And the next year it was 20."
In April, Tarver sold his portion of the condominiumized building, where the Hub is, for $3.1 million to the Casper family. After that, Tarver rented the property.
Make no mistake, however, that Tarver, known for his affinity for pink clothing and sporting gear, didn't enjoy his work. So long as he got to play.
"If it snowed 6 inches and you thought about going to work, you were fired," said Tarver, who said he averaged 330 days on a bicycle and 86 on telemark skis. "We didn't have a 12-inch rule. If you came to work on a ski day without skiing first, we didn't want you here."
He looks back fondly and proudly over the Hub of Aspen cycling team, whose members often dominated local, national and international competition. Hub riders have included Annie Gonzales and Olympians Alexi Grewal and Bobby Julich.
He also led a team of employees who would tell it like it is to Hub customers, whether they liked it or not. The shop's slogan: "It's not rude, it's the Hub."
"We weren't the nicest, we weren't the cheapest," he said. "But we really understood how things work."
The Hub also was once a merchant of winter sports equipment for snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country and telemark skiing before focusing exclusively on cycling.
Tarver sat on numerous government commissions and boards and once ran for mayor of Aspen. He pushed for light rail even though his chief mode of transportation comes on two wheels.
"So many people sit on boards or go to government meetings only when it affects them," he said. "When people are working for things that don't affect them, they are of much more value."
While Tarver said his future is uncertain, one thing is clear: "I don't see myself leaving. Ever."