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!

 

A Glance At The Past, & A View Of The Future
Jan 2012 13

Wow, time certainly flies and I can’t believe 2011 is now history. Well, it was a memorable year, one that helped me find focus on cycling again, after a great finish to 2010. We recently posted short blogs by Renaissance Man & Masher with their Goals for 2012, but we have yet to publish the Goals for RAM Cycling, until now.

First, let’s reflect on the awesome happenings by RAM Cycling in 2011, then we can take a look at where the road leads for 2012 and beyond. Some simple, but important events accomplished by Renaissance & Masher in ’11:

*   First century ride of the year (first ever for Renaissance Man) was the “Wheels O’ Fire” in Hamilton County, Georgia on April 2, 2011

*   The idea of RAM Cycling first came to light on a Renaissance & Masher shared spring break vacation at Jacksonville Beach, FL during the week following that 1st century ride

*   Our second century ride of the year was “Horsey Hundred” in Georgetown, KY on Memorial Day weekend 2011

*   RAM Cycling was officially launched on the world wide web & twitter around the start of July 2011, we are claiming 4th of July as our Birthday

*   Renaissance & Masher cycled in the sunshine state some more on vacation at Panama City Beach in July

*   The months of August and September saw RAM put in miles and miles in prep for GABRAKY

*   RAM Cycling rode in GABRAKY 2011 in October, a 3 day cycling event that travels around Kentucky (this was our second consecutive year, and included our 3rd century of the year)

*   RAM Cycling closed out 2011 moderately by posting several hundred more miles before rolling into 2012

Now that we have reflected on the recent past, RAM Cycling can only move forward by setting some Goals, just like Renaissance & Masher did personally. The good news is, RAM is a reality, and here are some of the goals we hope to achieve this year or in the very near future:

***   Bring excellent news and memories from our charity and group ride events to life right here at the RAM Cycling website

***   Fight to have legislation introduced and passed into Kentucky Law to raise awareness and safety for bicycling, including a 3-FEET TO PASS LAW, more bike lanes, more Share The Road signs on roadways, more local bicycling events for the public & more

***   Gain corporate backing of some close partners, in order to help support our push for legislative updates and help us promote a more healthy and bicycle friendly America, and also help us support  local charity groups that host events we intend to ride in this year and in years to come

***   RAM Cycling intends to host it’s own bicycle ride event, however the details are still in the planning phase for time of year, course, total miles, and location (expect this to be 1st class when it happens!)

***   Design and purchase our own cycling jersey to wear at events to help promote RAM Cycling, and t-shirts to give away

***   Obviously, we intend to support Renaissance & Masher in all of their bicycling endeavors

***   We want to develop a free membership club for the purpose of distributing important cycling information and legislative updates through a monthly newsletter

***   Finally, we will be excited to publish all of the good news we can find and relate to regarding bicycling

Thanks for visiting RAMCycling.com We hope you will continue to visit throughout 2012, as we try to accomplish our mission. So far it has been a wonderful ride, but it’s a journey that we are glad you are sharing with us. PLEASE feel free to leave a comment on any post we publish, or send us an email at any time. Your feed back is important to us and helps us improve our site for you. You can also follow us on Twitter @RAMCycling. Here’s to a great year in 2012!

____Change Is Necessary, Or Is It?
Sep 2012 03

“Change is necessary,” is a quote often preached by campaigners during our election seasons, or by management in a struggling business, or within schools or athletic teams as policy becomes out-dated. But I will argue that even when sometimes change is referred to as necessary, it’s not always the case. In this feature, I will give you two examples of change that are not necessary, and my opinion on why though not absolutely necessary, they are great decisions!

 

Recently, the citizens of my hometown, Georgetown, KY have experienced a change in the way they travel through downtown because of some lane changes. About two months ago, it was reported in our local newspaper “Georgetown News Graphic” that the state highway department had decided to change the lane configuration through town on Broadway St., which is also KY HWY 25. The change would include mill work, followed by re-paving and re-striping, in which the four lane street would change to a two lane with dedicated turn lane in center and the two north and south bound lanes would be bound by bicycling lanes. Well, you can only imagine the chaos and confusion this caused and city officials hastily tried to have the plan reconsidered, holding town hall meetings and sending messages through our state elected officials. How the state highways are constructed and striped is not a matter that they vote on, but I also spoke with our State Representative and State Senator personally, just to ensure that they heard a voice in favor of it. Well I, for one, and I imagine I am in large company, although we aren’t voicing our opinion nearly as loud as the complainers, am very happy to see this change come about. I can only assume that anyone owning a business or living in this area, the state has done them a huge favor by slowing down traffic, making the roadways, sidewalks, and the entire downtown experience safer for all.

Before the construction began, there were numerous wrecks on this stretch of highway within a residential area that encloses an elementary and middle school while extending to the county high school on the north end and another elementary school on the south end. Even the “nay-sayers'” primary complaint is that it has slowed traffic down, creating congestion, and people are stuck in traffic. I will always argue that you are not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic, but  my wife happens to use the Broadway St./Hwy. 25 corridor on a daily basis in the process of dropping off our three sons at three different schools (1-elementary, 1-middle, 1-high), and then picking them up from school, and sometimes returning to drop off for sports practices. She claims at no time has it taken her more than five to ten minutes to get through town. While some city officials have been on record in the local newspaper (over and over) stating that all the state has done is create a mess in downtown, the reality is, that now the integrity of our downtown, and the safety of our citizens’ travel will be a little more prevalent than how quick you can maneuver from one end to the other.

Before this highway re-construction project began, the state offered statistics from two or three similar towns where the same change had taken place successfully. Now that it is complete, they can include Georgetown in the statistic for the next town. So now that an unnecessary change has taken place in our community, we will benefit from the changes. Our downtown is not a mess. Once again, it’s a downtown that offers slower moving traffic, highway safety for all commuters, including walkers and bicyclists along with drivers! I’m sure our downtown businesses will benefit as we become a trend setter as a bicycle friendly community, which is a movement very rapidly growing across the United States.

 

The other unnecessary change I want to speak on involves our mission statement. RAM Cycling is committed to increasing bicycle awareness and will always remain committed to the enhancement of this great health and safety improving sport/past-time. We have also claimed to be committed to having a “3 Feet 2 Pass” law implemented in the state of Kentucky. This is part of our mission that I feel we should change. Now, before you get upset as an avid cyclist, hear me out, please.

For those unfamiliar with a “3 Feet 2 Pass” law, it is a bicycle friendly road right that has been passed by numerous other states, that sets a legal limit of three feet minimum of space between a car passing a bicyclist or pedestrian while walking or jogging. Make no mistake about it, I am not against the passing of this law, I hope one day it can be passed in our great state of Kentucky. I simply feel that it should no  longer be part of RAM Cycling’s mission to see that it happens, and now I’ll explain myself briefly.

We actually have no idea how many laws are currently on our books, and in the United States, an average of hundreds of local, state, and federal laws are written or changed on a daily basis. What happens when a new law is passed? Well unless you are made aware of it, you don’t know about it, and as we all know, that makes it even more difficult to enforce it. So how does all this come to light with new laws? Money! It takes $$$ to get laws passed, then more $$$ to make people aware of it, and even more $$$ for training of officers and the process of enforcing it. Being naturally conservative at heart, I’m not opposed to raising money for something I believe in, but I think the money we may be able to raise at RAM Cycling will do the community much more value by putting it all back into the “raising awareness” side of our Mission. After all, it’s also a fact that many laws are broken on a daily basis anyways. The matter of allowing a safe distance between your vehicle and a cyclist or pedestrian while passing them is a human moral value, and doesn’t need to be law to be followed. Simply imagine that as you are about pass a cyclist or pedestrian, how would you pass them if it were your spouse, child, or parent? Because that’s exactly who is on the road.

To find out about safe roadway travel in Kentucky and how the State Transportation Cabinet feels about it please check out their website at: http://transportation.ky.gov/share-the-road/Pages/default.aspx

* Masher

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