As the staff of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (and its entourage) rolled along bike paths from Boulder Cycle Sport South to University Bicycles on Wednesday morning, editor Lynette Carpiet commented that it was nice to ride a path nearly all the way from one bike shop to the next.
On the dealer tour the magazine did in Dallas-Fort Worth, she said, they racked up 50 miles cycling from shop to shop, sometimes on scary roads.
Boulder was the ninth city toured by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News; today they moved on to Denver. For each city, the editors produce a spread for the magazine that includes profiles of bike shops they visited and information on the city’s bike culture.
“It’s got a different feel,” Brad Klipping said of Boulder. Klipping is the marketing manager for Giant bicycles, which sponsors the dealer tours and provides bikes for the editors to ride from shop to shop. He’s been on seven or so of the tours.
“You see people pulling the kids in a trailer — you don’t give it a second thought in Boulder,” he said. “A lot of other places, you wouldn’t do that.”
The first stop in the morning for the industry magazine’s peloton of about 30 was Boulder Cyclesport’s south store, on Broadway. There, Carpiet asked owner Taro Smith questions about the store’s history, sales and inventory while out in the parking lot, representatives from Gates coaxed people into trying bikes with their belt drive — a grease-free belt replaces the chain on these drive trains.
Everything stopped when Smith’s business partner, Brandon Dwight, rolled up to the store with the 50-or-so strong Wednesday morning cyclocross ride.
“Usually, we don’t see this big of a group,” Carpiet commented. “Especially a cyclocross ride.”
Dwight told Carpiet there are “probably 30? places in town where a customer can get a bike fit. Smith said Boulder has about 17 bike shops.
Carpiet asked if it’s a competitive market.
Dwight said yes, but he didn’t know of shops that had closed, while he knew of several that opened.
“Everyone here has a bike,” he added.
As the group pedaled to University Bicycles, at Pearl and Ninth streets, Carpiet mentioned that Washington D.C. also had many nice bike paths and was easily rideable.
At U Bikes, owner Doug Emerson welcomed the group into his store with a tour of the historical cycling memorabilia on his walls.
“There are only a few bike shops in the country that have museums,” said Allen Needle, of Giant Bicycles.
Emerson brought the group inside, pausing at the repair shop.
“For about six months of the year, there are about 50 people on the payroll,” he said, adding that on a Saturday in the summer, the store often opens with a staff of 32.
“We often have a dozen mechanics cranking away here,” he added.
After looping through the store, he announced “OK, we’re taking it upstairs for a minute.”
“There’s an upstairs?” said Sarai Snyder, a Boulder cyclist and editor of girlbikelove.com. “Maybe this is where the real museum is.”
No museum — just a bike-fitting area. Emerson eventually took the group onto his roof, where he pointed out a few landmarks. General manager Lester Binegar pointed out the web cameras.
“If one of our cameras goes down, I get all kinds of emails,” he said. “Like a guy from New York, ‘I follow the weather in Boulder from those cameras!'”
Carpiet did not want to offer an opinion on Boulder’s bike shops and culture so early in the tour (in the afternoon, they also visited Bicycle Village, Vecchio’s Bicicletteria and Full Cycle on Pearl Street). But she did comment on the size of their rolling group.
“Boulder is big, and people really want to be involved,” she said. “They’re really proud of their bike community.”