(KRISTIN EBERTS ~ keberts@ semissourian.com)
Q: How did you become interested in cycling?
A: I'm 53 years old. When we were children, our bicycles were our means of transportation and our first taste of independence. When I went to friends' houses or soccer practice, it was on my bike. For most of us, when we were very young, you could only get so far on foot. But give me two wheels: independence. I grew up in St. Louis. In my early teens we were escaping from the city to Rockwoods Park in west county, and Crestwood shopping center on bikes. In high school a fellow student's family rode with a recreational cycling group in St. Louis, American Youth Hostels. I rode my first century ride (100-mile course) with that group at age 12 or 13. A year or two later, I pestered a bicycle shop manager enough until he hired me, this was probably 1971. I attended Schwinn Factory Training for mechanics before I was driving.
Q: When and how did you start your business?
A: The pursuit of a marketing degree brought me to Southeast Missouri State University. After four years and graduation in 1978, I was interviewing for a marketing position with companies such as Goodyear and others, as well as having an interest in working for a bike manufacturer such as Schwinn. With Goodyear or Schwinn, if I was successful, I would probably end up in Ohio or Chicago, and be on the road a lot in the process. I heard there was a bicycle shop for sale in downtown Cape; we had never really thought about staying in Cape Girardeau. It was a very small shop, but it was a start. My wife and I bought a fixer-upper house the summer between my sophomore and junior years. It was on Henderson Avenue, and we fixed it up during my junior and senior years at [Southeast]. After graduation we refinanced the house and bought the bicycle shop. The bicycle shop purchase seemed like so much money at the time. Today, just one of our purchase orders can far exceed what I paid for the business.
Q: How has your business changed and evolved over the years?
A: From the very beginning Cape Bicycle Cycling & Fitness Inc. has not only sold bicycles from the best value companies, but stocked extensive repair parts and accessories. The biggest change is the expansion of personnel, floor space and inventory. We started on Spanish Street in 1978, moved to 1802 Broadway in 1986, and to our 2410 William location with 7,200 square feet in 1994. But now, again, we need more room. We also have the largest selection of fitness equipment between St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn. Our treadmills and ellipticals are mostly from the highly rated True Fitness, a Missouri company we're very pleased we became associated with many years ago. We also service all products purchased from us.
Q: What are some of the health benefits of cycling that people may not realize?
A: We all know exercise is good for us. The motivation is the hard part. Cycling benefits are losing weight, strengthening the heart and cardiovascular system, increasing lean body mass (muscle), toning (cyclists have good legs), and more. Many people have seen improvements with their diabetes, sleep issues, cholesterol. The motivation is the hard part. What I've heard from many of my customers is how much better they feel from riding a bicycle, but also from many, "I forgot how much fun riding a bicycle is!" That really helps with the motivation. My thought is hopefully cycling will extend life, but to me, more importantly, improve the quality of life.
Q: The Tour de France is now underway. Do you watch it?
A: I watch the the Tour de France every day. Usually I get the beginning of the stage in the morning and catch the rest in the evening. My guess is although Lance Armstrong has said previous years were going to be his last, this year probably will be. He has given cycling such a boost here in the United States in recent years that even most non-cyclists know who he is. His success has brought so much media attention, and it's gotten more people riding bikes.
Q: How do you feel about the cancellation of this year's Tour of Missouri? Did you feel like the tour helped you when it came through Cape Girardeau last year?
A: The cancellation of the Tour of Missouri was a great loss for the state. The Tour of Missouri brought in many tourist dollars to the state and worldwide TV coverage of Missouri. Cape Bicycle did see a little more business with the tour, but nothing close to offset our sponsorship costs. We were a silver sponsor because it is good for Cape Girardeau and Missouri. One guy I talked to, a non-cyclist, stated it well. He said, "I don't know if the tour brings in as much money as the Missouri University study claims, but it brings in a lot of money, and Missouri wastes a lot more money on other things that don't generate revenue."
Q: What to you enjoy doing when you aren't working or biking?
A: I enjoyed coaching indoor and outdoor soccer, softball and working with the Boy Scouts when our children, Catherine and Matt, were growing up. I am most proud of my work with the cycling/walking trail during its design. I was asked to help from the Park and Recreation Board, and worked with the board, city, and Corps of Engineers. I convinced the city to add the underpass at Kingshighway and Bloomfield Road. This made the trail much safer to use and doesn't delay traffic with a street crossing. Cape Bicycle Cycling & Fitness has sponsored the Cape Youth Triathlon and many other church and school events. Cape Girardeau has been a wonderful city for our children to grow up in. Jean and I enjoy our friends and this community. I'm glad I bought the bike shop in 1978, and am not living in Ohio.