One Chapter Closes & Another Begins!

I’ve been waiting to make this announcement as I wanted to respect my current employer, Fitchburg Cycles. Tomorrow is my last official day there though and I feel it’s time for me to update those who give a care on where I’ll be headed!

I’ll be joining the team at Wheel & Sprocket Middleton as a Store Manager. I’m nervous and excited for the new opportunity. I’ve spent a cumulative nearly four years working with Edwin and the folx at Fitchburg Cycles. I considered it my home shop, even when I wasn’t physically in the shop working. I’ve held many events there, took on a lot of responsibilities that kept the shop running (purchasing, social media management, and running the sales floor), and learned so much from my time at the shop. It was a bit of a revolving door of employees during my four years there, but will for sure miss my most recent co-workers.

It will be a bittersweet ending of my time there, but I know that it was time for me to move on. For those who aren’t familiar with Wheel & Sprocket, they are a Midwestern regional chain that was founded in 1973. Chris Kegel was the longtime president of the company until he sadly passed away in 2017. I had the pleasure of working with Chris during my time at Saris managing the silent auction and assisting in planning the annual Saris Gala. I also had ties to Chris and his family during my time as a board member for the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation.

Throughout my time at Saris and the Bike Fed I had met Chris’s daughters  Amelia and Tessa as well as his sons Noel and Julian. Noel has taken over as president of the company while Amelia heads up the events and marketing. They’ve grown as a company within the last few years with expanding to new markets such as Middleton and Evanston, IL. They’ve also been expanding and updating their locations in and around the greater Milwaukee area, making for clean and modern looking shops.

It’s nice knowing that while they are a “chain store” that they are still owned and run by the Kegel family. Wheel has a great reputation outside of their shops for giving back to the community. They sponsor a number of local charity rides, started the Chris Kegel foundation which provides funding for cycling infrastructure projects, and they donate funds to a lot of cycling non-profits. Their ride support is always a welcome site when rolling up to a cycling event as they always have great mechanical support.

My hope is once our world gets back to normal after COVID that I’ll be able to join an event or two as it’s always something I’ve enjoyed while working in bike shops.

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Another aspect I’m excited about with heading to a new shop is I get to work with some new brands. I have a lot of love and respect for the brands I worked with at Fitchburg Cycles, but I will get to now sell brands like Salsa and All-City who make some fun bikes and products I’ve been a fan of for many years.

I’ll still get the opportunity to sell Liv and Giant, which is exciting and they are wonderful bike brands. Some other brands that will be new for me to sell include Ortlieb (some of the nicest pannier and bike packing gear on the market), Kuat racks, Terra Trike, Tern, Yuba, Felt, and another 4 lettered brand that lots of people know. I shall not name them at this time due to their association with the police bike issue, so I’d just rather not go there. I’m trying this whole if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It gets me into a little less trouble, but for those who know me…I’m pretty candid about my thoughts and opinions on things.

The opportunity is awesome and I’m excited to getting my feet wet with learning their systems, the new products, the new brands, and meeting a new customer base! I know some of my existing regulars will likely come see me at the new shop and I look forward to exposing them to some new offerings as well.

I don’t know that I’d write much about my day to day job as I tend to like to just talk about my bike, reviewing products, and the rides I’m doing. If anything cool pops up though I’ll be sure to share about it.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading and as always EAT WELL, BIKE OFTEN!

Cassandra

Fitchburg Cycles Partners with Spoke Haven Cycling Club

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We are super excited to announce Fitchburg Cycles as a new club supporter. The shop is providing us with a start/end location for rides twice a month as well as in store discounts for club members. Fitchburg Cycles is also lending the club space for future workshops and clinics.

Owner Edwin Benet has spent his life in the cycling industry and works to create a welcoming space for all who want to ride. He, along with his wife and kids, opened the shop nearly three years ago and aimed to make the space warm and inviting. With its bright green walls, handmade wooden displays, and large bike themed  paintings (all created by his wife Mary Benet Treleven) the space is unlike any other shop in the area. Customers are offered free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while they browse or wait for service repairs. Not to mention there’s always free treats for humans and pets alike at the front counter.

Fitchburg Cycles carries bikes from brands Giant, Liv, Momentum, Linus, Cannondale, and Borealis. The Liv brand is a dedicated women’s line of bicycles from the parent company, Giant bicycles. One of the largest and most revered women’s bike brands in the world.

Accessory lines from Pearl Izumi, Bell, Giro, Cat Eye, Topeak, Continental, Yakima, Thule, Saris, Brooks, Light & Motion, Knog, Blackburn, kryptonite, GU, Tifosi, Feedback Sports, Park Tool, Fizik, and Selle Royale offer a range of products that are well known by customers and trusted by Edwin and his staff alike. Benet stresses the importance of carrying products that are made well, have a good reputation, and he refuses to carry brands or products that he himself wouldn’t use.

We look forward to calling Fitchburg Cycles our home shop for the 2016 season! A huge thanks goes out to everyone at Fitchburg Cycles for opening their doors to us and supporting women’s cycling.

For more information on rides, please check our ride info page.

*full disclosure: club manager Cassandra works for the shop. She does not, however have any financial gain by promoting the shop or its products and services.

Bike Swap Overview

The Brazen Dropouts Bike Swap was this past weekend. Sometimes swaps are hit or miss and much like flea markets, you have to get there early to get the good stuff. Fortunately, the goal of attending this swap was less about personal purchases and more about meeting new people who are creating new businesses, organizations, rides, and artwork that are geared towards cycling in our state.

There was definitely a good amount of folks doing really great things and we can’t wait to spread the word about them. The haul of the day included a lot wonderful contacts and even a new pair of winter riding gloves for quite a steal!

Overall the swap was a lot of fun. While there was a lot of not so great items that came out of the basements of bike part hoarders, there were some gems, such as sweet vintage frames and handmade bike goods. The Brazen swap is definitely recommended if you’re in the area, and the money helps support their team for their upcoming season!

Starting Young- Cycling Accessories for Toddlers!

It’s amazing what you can come across online by complete accident. One minute it’s D.I.Y puff box’s and the next it’s handlebar bags for trikes and balance bikes!tricyclebagI found this gem of a handmade good on the  My Handmade Home blog. The woman is a full time mom, with an Etsy/online business that specializes in items for kids.  Feel free to check out her store. I don’t think the bag is listed on her Etsy store, Josh & Teo, but I’m sure she’d be more than happy to make one by request!lng2_moderndots_001

The famously crazy patterned helmet makers, Nutcase, makes some of the best toddler and kids helmets available. They tend to shy away from marketed characters (Disney, Dora, Blue’s Clues) and stick to fun, basic designs. Many of them are non-gender specific which makes it great for people who are planning on having a few kids down the line. wishbone_all_2_sizes_in_1

Another great concept that has been growing in popularity is balance bikes. I strongly believe that this is the route parents should go, in order to teach their kids how to safely and effectively ride a bike. I’ve heard a few horror stories of when people were first learning how to ride and how biffing it big time made them never want to ride again.

Balance bikes teach kids the much needed ability to steer and balance their weight on a bike. They push themselves along with their legs and feet rather than pedaling and teeter-totting back and forth on training wheels. Training wheels actually go against the natural feeling of what it’s like to ride a bike and can cause children to take longer to learn how to ride.

If you’re concerned with your child outgrowing the balance bike, you can look into models that are designed to grow with the child. At one point Trek even made a balance bike that you could eventually install a crank and pedals on!

A good resource for balance bikes and toddler accessories online is www.kidsbalancebikes.com . It’s still a good idea to look at models your local dealer carries as many of them offer trade up programs for when your child eventually does grow out of their balance model. Children also get to know the local shops and will learn good purchasing habits than if you were to visit a big box store where bikes are usually not assembled by a certified mechanic, are made with irreplaceable parts, and there’s no real customer service for when you have questions.

Remember, the earlier we get kids on bikes, the better our cycling communities will be in the future!