Interview With A Bike Shop Owner
Jul 2011 28

The Masher recently sat at the counter at Capital City Cycles and had a chat with owner, Troy Hearn. He enlightened me on some bicycle topics, and informed me that bicycling in America was first started in New York City. Infact, the “New York Bike Club” was the group of folks that originally formed the Department of Transportation because they were seeking better roads to ride on. Funny, that’s an issue we still struggle with today. The rest of the conversation is also very informative!

Masher: How long have you been in the bicycle business? 

Troy: 22 years total and started Capital City Cycles 4 years ago.

Masher: Do you consider this to be your dream job?

Troy: No, but unsure what my dream job would be if the money part wasn’t an issue. Considering I have to make a living, this is what I want to be doing. If I didn’t require income, I would be riding a bike another 20-30 hrs per week.

It may not be his dream job, but it sounds like he’s in the right neighborhood!

Masher: What is a typical ride for you, and what is your favorite ride? 

Troy: Well I like mountain biking a little more than road riding, so my favorite ride would be on a dry, fast, single track trail. My typical ride is every morning before work either a 10 mile mountain bike ride or a 50 mile road ride.

Masher: What kind of changes have you witnessed in your 20+ years in the bike sales and service industry?

Troy: For starters, the average price of bikes has been on a steady increase, as has the number of people riding. It seems as if the movement comes more from the north and is beginning to really become more and more popular as it moves south. Even though states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Colorado generally have a shorter riding season, they are way ahead of us in the number of bike lanes and public accessible trails to ride on. 20 years ago, it was rare to come across a cyclist, and they were thought of as different. Now it seems that if you aren’t a cyclist, you at least know one, and while back then you only had one bike, now it is very common for folks to have multiple bikes (mountain, road, time trial or triathlon, hybrid, etc.) and ride them all. This generation of cyclist also seems to be more passionate about riding, which is probably why it’s spreading so rapidly.

Masher: What advice do you offer to new cyclists to improve their riding experience? And what advice can you offer to cyclists who are somewhat experienced, but maybe want to take their ride to another level?

Troy: Primarily 3 things. First, I recommend joining a local bike club. Ours is the  “Bluegrass Cycling Club.” Their group rides can be very accomodating  to beginners and novices, while teaching some basic ride safety, and how to properly care for your bike. This is also the best way for experienced riders to get even better, because you tend to push yourself a little more when riding in a pack, and this helps you become stronger and faster. Second, there is always the internet, where you can find some very helpful information, just like this conversation piece. Obviously, some of the web info can be subjective and some objective, therefore, last but not least, I highly recommend consulting a local bike shop.

I agree with the third tip, they are experts shen it comes to bikes. I have visited all of the area bike shops at one time or another, and I am proud to say I choose to patronize Capital City Cycles, because of the relationship I have developed with Troy and his very friendly staff, and their willingness to educate me about my bike and other necessary cycling gear! You can rest assured that whoever you develop a relationship with, they will be there for you when you need them because the Internet can’t give you a hands-on training of how to change a flat tire on the side of the road.

Masher: How do you feel about our current bike laws in Kentucky in general? 

Troy: What bike laws?! Of the total number of cyclists in America, I would guess that about 2% are racers, while 98% are some form of casual rider, and of that group, I bet less than 5% ride on the road. Most people, even the majority of work commuters, are riding on the sidewalk or just around their subdivisions, with no desire to get onto the road with vehicles.

Masher: How do you think updating the bicycling laws (if we have any) in Kentucky, including the push for a “3 Feet 2 Pass” law, will benefit your business and other bike shops.

Troy: I don’t think I will see a difference, because the majority of new riders will still be afraid of the roads. I support updating legislation, but the bigger issue is education.

I agree, we need more education, especially for drivers. I disagree, though, that we won’t all benefit from improved legislation. When we are able to pass some new laws including, “3 Feet 2 Pass,” then we can turn the focus onto more education, and of coarse, the other key element is enforcement. I hope at some point I can change Troy’s mind on this opinion. Only time will tell!

Masher: Would you like to, or do you have any future plans to expand your business or open new locations?

Troy: Yes, I would love to expand my business here in Frankfort one day, with a larger shop, but haven’t given much thought to any other locations.

Masher: Anything else you would like to add in closing? Any advice for my readers that can improve their bicycling experience?

Troy: Think globally, and act locally! Things will never get better on your street if you don’t help your neighbor. Ask you city, county, and state officials to keep the roads clean. If they could run the street sweepers over the shoulders and emergency lanes once in a while, we would have instant bike lanes, and that would be wise use of our roadways, that we ALL pay for!

Excellent, I couldn’t have said it better. It’s true. We would all be content to ride on the shoulder, provided that there’s room, or on the other side of the rumble strip on the bypass and/or local highways, rather than in the flow of speeding traffic, but it’s nearly impossible with all of the debris that lies in these areas.  I intend to take his advice and post the names and phone numbers of some of those officials, so we can kindly make the request to sweep our roadways and shoulders (that’s good for the economy too, because it equates to jobs)!

I enjoyed my chat with Troy, and in closing, I would like to recommend giving Capital City Cycles a chance to earn your business, if you aren’t already loyal to another bike shop. If you are considering buying a new bike like I am, Troy will give you lifetime free tune ups on a bike you buy from him as long as you own it. That’s a great way to justify spending a few more dollars on nicer components, or a lighter frame, or a better wheelset, because in the long run as you save on the tune ups, these upgrades pay for themselves!

 

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