It is the day before a race and you need extra CO2, a new tire, spare tubes, extra nutrition or someone to look at that sound your fine tuned machine (yes, your bike) just started making … where do you go?...
Well, if you traveled to the race, you might be at the expo, where you hope and pray that the vendors have what you need (good luck with that!). Unfortunately for me, one disadvantage of riding 650c wheels is that race vendors often don’t carry enough spare tubes or tires in the 650 size, so I am often out of luck when I am looking for last minute items (let’s ignore the fact that I should have planned better) or nutrition that I left at home. So, back to the question – where do you go?
The Local Bike Shop (commonly referred to as the LBS), of course!
My local shop, Bicycle World and Fitness, is like Cheers. I walk in and everyone knows my name. I have only been a customer there for 3 years, but I have purchased two bikes there and watched them grow from two small shops, into three, including one large, beautiful shop (lots of eye candy!), without losing their amazing customer service. They have nailed my bike fit twice and the bike enthusiasts that work there share great information with everyone they meet.
Chris Holmes, the owner, is usually around at one of the three stores, as are his wife and adorable son. There is definitely a family feel to the shop – and they treat their customers as family too. In the last two years, BW&F has really embraced the sport of triathlon and now carries essentials for all three legs of triathlon – something I love and am so incredibly appreciative of as a customer (one stop shopping!).
As a thrifty shopper, I understand wanting to get the best value and being tempted to buy almost everything online to save a few bucks. Except … I need my LBS and so do you. When you want to touch and feel a new product, zip around on different bikes or try a bike in different sizes, try on apparel, put 10 pairs of goggles on to see what fits your face or get a perfect bike fit – where do you go?
You certainly can’t get those things online. I am not suggesting not to shop online – I love All3Sports and I have happily given them plenty of cash and I will continue to, but I am just reminding folks to spread the wealth. As I mentioned above, the LBS is there when you need them, so don’t be afraid to return the favor.
Maybe I am just lucky, but my LBS, BW&F, will order anything I need and offers extremely competitive pricing. Plus, they support their customers – everything from shop rides to tents at local races. In fact, they have also been stepping up in the community by sponsoring races and they have also just recently started a local team. I am excited to be a part of this new team along with many of their other customers. Yes, CUSTOMERS. They didn’t go out into the community to find just the fastest racers, they put together a team of their best customers – which includes athletes of all ages, from long time triathlete age group winners to newbies!
I am excited to be a part of this local team and to meet more local athletes. I have loved being a part of Trakkers and Rev3, and hope to continue that relationship – the Rev3 people and team are amazing! Despite the fact that we are spread out over the country the Trakkers/Rev3 team is very supportive of one another on all fronts, from personal issues to racing. Since I do a lot of training solo and often travel to race, I have not met as many local triathletes -- so I am thrilled to have the opportunity to have a local team to bond with as well! This will also encourage me to race more locally – in addition to the great races I do with Rev3!
Now, go thank your local bike mechanic … :)