Bicycles aren’t what they used to be.
Gone are the clunky bikes of yesteryear and the flutter of playing cards attached to the spokes with a clothes pin. The faster you went, the faster the flutter.
Fifty isn’t what it used to be, either.
But, as they say, once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget.
“Some of the most enthusiastic and passionate bicycle riders we see are over 50,” said Eric Redrup, 51. Redrup founded and now co-owns the Leavenworth bike shop EuroSports with Ben Hudson, 47.
In fact, some of EuroSports’ customers are in their 70s, he added.
“Bicycling is a no-impact sport, and it’s a perfect activity for people to remain active as they age because it’s so easy,” Redrup said. “One of the things we really get excited about is helping a new customer get on a bike and find or rediscover the joy in riding.”
Today’s bicycles are scientific marvels, ergonomically designed, high-tech fun machines.
They are sleek, fast and sexy.
State-of-the-art bicycles feature hand-operated pad or hydraulic disc brakes that allow bicyclists to maintain better control, whether on smooth blacktop or rough mountain trails. Innovative ergonomic improvements, such as strategically located, fingertip-controlled gear-changing derailleurs, comfortable handle bars and strong, ultra-lightweight alloy frames allow fit cyclists to ride well over 100 miles a day.
And biking technology keeps getting better.
“Carbon framesets are a huge innovation for improving weight, stiffness and ride qualities,” Redrup said. “The new 2014 Scott Addict, coming in a few months, will weigh barely more than a quart of milk. That’s for both the frame and the front fork.”
In addition to the Scott bicycle line, EuroSports (bikeleavenworth.com) also carries bicycles manufactured by other leading world manufacturers Yeti and Orbea. Its store is stocked with a variety of bicycling accessories, such as parts, helmets, shoes, clothing and snacks for the road. This bike shop can repair and service anything with two wheels. Services range from a basic to a full-service tune-up, complete overhaul of suspension systems, and bleeding and repair of hydraulic disc brakes.
“Brakes and suspensions are services we provide that make us stand out with customers,” Hudson said. “These involve a little more experience and knowledge and you have to be committed to figure out how to make it 100-percent right. Our goal is to fix bikes to our high standards, and to the same degree we fix our own personal bikes.”
Hudson’s not just whistlin’ Dixie. He and Redrup are serious bicyclists, on the road as well as the trail. They don’t just talk the talk; they also ride the ride. It’s not unusual for Redrup to ride 100 miles in a day.
“When it comes to cycling, it’s important that you’re dealing with someone who actually spends a lot of time themselves riding,” said Angelo Borrelli of Wenatchee. “Eric knows how to translate that experience into assisting you with your specific concerns. He helped me understand what I needed to do to get the most out of my riding and, more importantly, to be riding pain-free.”
Borrelli, 50, rode a bicycle as a child, and rediscovered the joy of riding a bike two years ago when he visited EuroSports.
“I wanted to get back into riding a bike to improve my health,” Borrelli said. “Cycling has become important to me because it provides a means to stay in great shape and enjoy the outdoors at the same time.”
Even though the baby boomer demographic fits right into the wheelhouse of EuroSports, it also sells and services bikes for those more into Twitter and Facebook than reruns of “My Three Sons” and “The Brady Bunch.”
“I bought a road bike for my youngest daughter from EuroSports,” Borrelli said. “I also bought a Scott mountain bike for my youngest son, and I plan to buy another road bike from Eric for my oldest daughter soon.”
Now, Borrelli also enjoys occasional bike rides with his grown children.
In addition to being the business owners, Redrup and Hudson are also the technicians.
“Our customers are personally working with an owner,” Redrup said. “The person they talk to is the same person who will fix their bike. The attention they get provides a certain comfort level that, hopefully, keeps them coming back. We are small, and that makes us able to provide high quality, personal service.”
Not to mention efficient service.
“We pride ourselves on getting our customers’ bikes repaired and back to them within 48 hours,” Redrup said. “We want to be able to keep that up.”
Part of that personal service is bike fitting. EuroSports features professional bike fitting and is careful to take the time to match the customer to the bike that’s just right for them.
Ed Phinney of Wenatchee learned how important it is to be properly fitted to a bike.
“I went to EuroSports two years ago to have Eric try to fit me to the bike I had at the time,” the 51 year-old said. “As we progressed, it turned out my bicycle was the wrong size and geometry for my body. Eric did a great job fitting me and I couldn’t be happier on my comfortable Scott CR-1 bicycle. I continue to use EuroSports as my bicycle mechanic of choice.”
Redrup has a technical professional background and worked most of his career in industrial equipment. He worked at a local bike shop for four years and developed a strong passion for it. Despite the fact that several bicycle shops already were located in Central Washington, Redrup saw an opportunity to offer a different level of expertise in a small market with a niche product.
He chose the name EuroSports for his new business to honor cycling’s European roots as well as Leavenworth’s Bavarian Village theme.
Redrup opened his one-man operation in October 2010, and ran the new business by himself the first two years.
He discovered early on that at certain times of the year, he had enough work to support a second person. Hudson, a mountain biking enthusiast and master bicycle mechanic, joined forces with Redrup last summer. He’s now the go-to guy for technical and often complicated hydraulic brake and suspension system work.
But for a year-round bicycle shop, there’s also a slower time.
“December and January are our slowest months,” Redrup said.
The shop sells studded bike tires for winter bike riding, but, unlike other bike shops that morph into ski sales and maintenance when the snow flies, EuroSports isn’t interested in riding down that path.
“Almost everyone who knows us has asked if we will ever sell skis in the winter,” said Redrup, an avid cross-country skier. “Our focus is where we want it to be — on bikes. We want to be the best possible bike shop we can be. We’d be distracted with skis and not be able to devote our slower time to getting more education on bike maintenance.”
Come the last week in January, bicyclists get eager to shift gears from winter sports to bicycling, Redrup said. Cyclists race to EuroSports to get tune-ups and repairs to make sure their bicycles are ready to roll when spring arrives. It’s not unusual to see bundled bicyclists getting a jump on spring bike riding in February.
Local bike trails are a popular subject with customers at EuroSports.
Mountain biking options include the new trails at Stevens Pass, Cashmere’s Devil’s Gulch trails, Wenatchee’s Sage Hills trails and Leavenworth’s Ski Hill trails. At the Ski Hill, the local chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is heading up the construction of a new 3-mile single track trail connecting to Freund Canyon.
For road bikes, cyclists are limited to the county side roads and Highway 2 to Wenatchee, where they can access the popular Apple Capital Loop Trail. That conversation usually turns to inquiries of a community trail between Leavenworth and Wenatchee.
“You would not believe the amount of people we have come in here asking about that,” Redrup said. “They’re amazed, almost dumbfounded, that we don’t have a dedicated community trail from Leavenworth to Wenatchee.”
Redrup compares the economic potential of a Wenatchee Valley trail to the cross country ski trails in Leavenworth.
“The Leavenworth ski trails have a huge positive economic impact on the area,” Redrup said. “A dedicated community trail from Leavenworth to Wenatchee has the same economic potential for the region. There’s a lot of upside, but it takes the support of the entire area. If the businesses as a whole and the county commissioners get behind it, it may happen someday.”
The road ahead for EuroSports has a bright horizon.
“Step one was opening the shop in 2010,” Redrup said. “Step two was bringing Ben on board last year. We want to continue to be recognized as a resource for expertise. We love bicycles and are passionate about our work. In the end, happy cyclists are happy customers.”
While managing the business’s growth may be more challenging for Redrup than an all-day 100-mile bike ride, he’s still a kid when he gets on his bike.
Just don’t look for that playing card pinned to his spokes.
“After all the tens of thousands of miles of bike riding I’ve done, I still get the same sort of awe from spending a day peddling,” he said. “What other activity allows a person to move under their own power so quickly and easily and see so much amazing geography?”