Friday, July 9, 2010

Local Bike Shops Step Up: Lucky Us

As I've noted before, we are very fortunate to have many really good bike shops in town. Lately, I've noticed that some of them have really picked up the pace of their activities in the community and they deserve mention.

 Competitive Cyclist sponsored the Ronde de Burns Crit Series in Burns Park, which was very well-supported with good participation and a pretty vocal crowd. As usual, local USAC guy Steve Shepherd of Orbea headed up the officiating. The racing was competitive and left me with no doubts as to why those guys drop me when they come out to play on the Tuesday and Thursday night Fast Girl rides. CC also has a fantastic retail website that is home to hundreds of well-produced video product reviews and one of my favorite reads, the "What's New" blog under the Service Course header.

The subject matter ranges from industry insight to product reviews and opinion but it always entertains. The writing is as good as you'll find anywhere and the perspective is what I'll call "international homeboy". Most of Competive Cyclist's business is done via the internet and they are recognized worldwide for the quality of their products and service.

Chainwheel has improved the content and format of their website to include more interactive features. In addition, they are producing a nicely done electronic newsletter, The Wheel. On a recent visit for a service repair to Diane's Cannondale Lefty fork (OK, I'll confess at this point that I screwed something up and had to get somebody else to fix it. I screwed up out of that often dangerous combination of confidence and ignorance. The repair required a tool that I didn't own.), Sarah mentioned that they were going to sponsor an evening short-track mountain bike series at Burns Park this fall. In addition to holding the races, they will also have Light and Motion headlight systems available as race rentals for those of us who don't own the flamethrower lighting systems required for riding single-track in the dark. Sounds ambitious and fun!
They continue to host regular road rides. Chainwheel has also partnered with local trainer Ben Stone to provide high-level training to local riders. I know several riders who are clients of Ben's and their comments and results have all been very positive.
The leadership at Orbea USA, the Orbea store, Competitive Cyclist, etc. all have their bike industry roots at the venerable Chainwheel.

Arkansas Cycling and Fitness has also upped the ante. Bryan Shipman, Robert Mooney and other team riders are actively blogging on the site. Bryan leads the weekly CARP rides and is very active in building and maintaining the trail systems at camp Robinson, while Dan Lysk, Sherwood store manager is also leading weekly Tuesday night road rides that are drawing increasingly large crowds. I tend to think of ACF as the local epicenter of the 29er movement, in large part to Richard Machycek's devotion to the concept. Show up at Camp for the Wednesday night ride and you'll see what I mean. Small wheels are welcome, but most of the crowd rolls BIG!

These are the shops where we do most of our business and the folks that I cross paths with most often while on the bike, but they are not the only players in town. These shops also serve the community:

The Orbea Store: this concept store is in the process of evolving from outlet to full-service bike shop.

Riders Ready

The Community Bicyclist

J and P Bike Shop

All of these stores have their loyal followers and I doubt that you will find another city the size of Little Rock that enjoys the same number and quality of bike shops.
Lucky us.

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