IRONMAN: Bike shops cater to local triathletes

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By The Staff

Crestwood seemed like a good place to open a bike shop in 2007, with a preponderance of bikers but no shops to service them.  

Within months, everything changed  for  Bluegrass  Bicycles and owner Bob Clifford. The Ironman competition series announced a race in Louisville coming within miles of his new shop.

So Clifford set to work immediately, reforming his product line to cater to triathletes. Now he estimates more than a quarter of his business comes from triathletes. 

The riders come in for the $2,000 to $4,000 time-trial bikes, engineered not for comfort, but to shave down any shred of drag with carbon components and slippery designs. 

Athletes return for accessories or a wetsuit, not to mention plenty of maintenance. With the number of miles athletes ride during training, these bikes need lots of tune-ups, Clifford said.

Race day is a big day for the business. Clifford and two other mechanics will be on the course Aug. 30 prepared to  make free speedy repairs and watch nearly 50 customers pedal 112 miles on Bluegrass Bicycle equipment.

The impact of Ironman doesn’t end there. 

There are always a few new customers in the shop in the days after the race. 

Some are experienced athletes, but some haven’t ridden since they were kids.

“Some of them don’t know what they’re getting into,” he said.

Registration for the 2010 race starts the day after the 2009 event. A year is a good amount of time to prepare for the Ironman triathlon, Clifford said, but two years is better. Marathoners or competitive swimmers or cyclists might be able to get away with less time, he said.

Don’t expect to see Clifford out there with the competitors next year, though. He said 10 or 20 training hours a week is just too much time away from his wife and kids.

At La Grange’s Goose Creek Cycle, the involvement with Ironman isn’t as intense. 

As athletes ride the course in the weeks preceding the race, some blow out a tire or have other mechanical issues. Many find their way to Goose Creek, owner Jon Kindig said. 

And enthusiasm for the race brings new customers wanting to become serious cyclists.

“If we were good, we’d capitalize more than we do,” he said.

It’s coming

Ironman Louisville is Aug. 30, and the event will fill La Grange with spectators and roads throughout Oldham with thousands of  cyclists. The majority of the 112-mile bike route is in Oldham County. Athletes ride north on U.S. 42 from Louisville, on Ky.  1694 and Ky. 393 then up Ky. 146 through La Grange wind through L’Esprit and loopback through La Grange. Finally they ‘lll ride south on U.S. 42 from Sligo back to Louisville where they begin the running portion of the race.


E-mail us about this story at: jfoster@oldhamera.com