Ten years ago, following a divorce, I decided to do something for myself and buy a bike for the first time in a decade.  I had enjoyed browsing one of my LBS’s, so I figured I would go there for this quest.  They were kind and helpful, but I was scared about what type of bike to get, so I “settled” for a Giant Cypress LX hybrid.  It was an okay bike—nothing fancy.  And, as a fairly casual rider, I figured it would suffice.  That being said, it was kinda big and bulky for me, ugly, and weighed a ton.  Plus, I think the frame was way to large, but the clerk insisted it was fine.

Now here is where I make a confession—every time I go into a bike shop, I get anxious and feel judged.  I am overweight, don’t know the mechanical side of the sport very well, and I don’t act or dress like a “typical” cyclist.  I always have to prove myself in terms of knowledge about the sport instead of people seeing an overweight person trying to buy a bike get healthier.  Even when I use a musette as a purse and wear my t-shirts from races I’ve worked to try to lend credence to my credibility, I usually have to answer a series of pointless cycling trivia just for anyone to take me seriously.



Everything changed, however, this past week.  After working Race Across America again, I was inspired to get a new bike.  Due to my discomfort with my other LBS’s, my bike had fallen into a state of disrepair.  Furthermore, I resented it for all the faults I just named.  So, I decided to try an LBS a little further from me—Cycle Werks in Whitehouse, Ohio.



I tentatively walked in on Monday and began looking around.  The owner came up and asked if he could help, so I nervously explained that I had just worked RAAM and was inspired to get my first road bike.  And from here, it was the most amazing experience I had ever had in a bike shop. 

First off, the shop is huge! Many of the other LBS’s in Toledo are cramped—they shove as many bikes as possible in small spaces, making it difficult to even just get a 360 view of the bikes.  Beyond that, they have a good inventory, including Trek, Cannondale, and my beloved Cervelo. 

Now I have been completely enamored with Cervelo for years.  However, in talking to the manager, Jonathan Hoag, I went through my needs and explained my novice level experience.  He was able to help me realize that the Cervelo was a bit excessive for my current needs though would be a good goal to work towards.  That alone impressed my that bike was considerably more than the one I wound up getting, but instead of worrying about that fiscal difference, he was more interested in getting me the exact bike for me.

Next, he explained all the mechanical stuff that had always confused me—and he did so calmly and with respect instead of talking down to me or making me feel stupid.  He focused and communicated so clearly with me that I knew exactly what I was getting. 

Then, he took measurements to order me the right size.  I realize this is probably pretty standard, but it was the first time anyone had ever done that for me (turns out, I’m a 44!).  So, after about 30-45 minutes, he had helped me find the exact bike (in the exact color) that I wanted.  And in that time, I felt respected and appreciated.  As we talked, I told him of some of my journalist work and I mentioned some of the cyclists I knew in the area. In so doing, we discovered we even had a mutual friend.  I was so relaxed and happy the entire time.

A voicemail was left on Friday that the bike was built and I could come get it today. The anticipation of finally getting a bike that fit that didn’t weigh a ton urged me to go in today and pick it up.  And sure enough, Johnathan was there again. He asked me about my fourth and shared his, introduced me and my work to some of the other workers in the shop, helped me find a bike bag and cage, measured and adjusted the bike itself to my exacting specifications, and was happy and engaged the whole time.  He was also excellent at explaining exactly what he was doing, what measurements he was taking and why, and walking me through the mechanics of the bike—from shifting to breaking to the quick release so that I could walk out feeling self-sufficient.  On top of that, I feel I was given a great deal! I even talked the Tour a bit with him and another gentleman working.  He helped me load it into my car, and my time at Cycle Werks was done with him wishing me well, telling me to stop in if I needed anything, and that he hoped to see me on some of the local rides. 

Once I got the bike out and rode it a bit, I realized I had made the perfect decision.  Now, I’m super excited to ride, and since it’s so lightweight, I can easily get it in and out of my car to travel with it.  It’s perfect.  But, more important than that to a certain extent is the restoration in hope that I can go into a bike shop and be treated with respect instead of judged.  I will be a proud Cycle Werks customer for life at this point.  From the impressively good customer service, the non-aggressive yet highly informative sales approach, the quality of product, and the bargain prices, I just can’t imagine a better LBS.  So, if you’re ever in the Toledo, Ohio area and want to see what bike shops have to offer, check Cycle Werks out .  I know you won’t be disappointed!

Find out more about Cycle Werks at: http://www.shopcyclewerks.com/