Thanks to the Olympic Training Center and the presence of cycling’s national governing body, USA Cycling, the Springs has long hosted elite cyclists.
But just as NASCAR drivers don’t buy their race cars from local auto dealers, elite riders rarely patronize local bike shops.
“They’re actually more of a pain than anything else,” said Kay Caunt, who owns Criterium Bicycles, “We rely on our local customers, on the local biking community.”
ProCycling, which will move during November into the restored Colorado Midland roundhouse at 21st Street and Highway 24, originally catered principally to the racing community.
“That was more the idea when we started at the end of 2003, and we’re still involved with them,” said bike fitter (and professional triathlete) Branden Rakita, “but we’ve worked on everything from Wal-Mart specials to $20,000 bikes.”
Compared to Boulder or Denver, the cycling community in Colorado Springs is relatively small — but its steady growth has attracted new market entries.
Julie McCafferty recently opened Cycle-Re-Cycle in a restored building in old Colorado City. She buys, sells and trades used high-end bikes.
“We don’t sell Wal-Mart bikes,” she said.
She decided to start a business during a recession, “because there aren’t any jobs.”
C.S. West Bikes, also in Colorado Springs, is a relatively new entrant in the market.
“We started about five years ago,” said owner Rush Carter. “My wife had a mobile repair business, and after a while we decided to open a store. We’ve been here (in a spacious old Colorado City location) for about a year, and business is good. I guess if we have a market niche, it would be custom steel bikes.”
It’s difficult to measure the size of the market, but one indicator might be last week’s annual “Starlight Spectacular,” a 20-mile midnight ride that begins and ends in the Garden of the Gods. The ride, a benefit for the Trails and Open Space coalition, drew 2,000 participants.
“It was great,” said Tom Hoff, a retired Los Angeles policeman and ardent cyclist. “The cops cleared the streets, and everyone had a good time.”