The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois on May 4, 1998 · Page 17
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The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois · Page 17

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Bloomington, Illinois
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Monday, May 4, 1998
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Page 17
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Business Monday, May 4, 1998 The Pantagraph Chris Koos, Vitesse Cycle Shop owner, held a Y-foil Trek bicycle with one finger. The latest carbon fiber composite technology results in a 1 9-pound bike. dDim ttUn r '. . ... rpngDntt Vitesse Cycle Shop grows with the community and Constitution Trail I 'r- ' I ic. 'win 7 ? I 1 rw.-.-.- - - - ...... V 'J .iJlifeaamJl ' .i.l'ii .... , ""'.-- i I 2 1 A V r By CHRIS ANDERSON Pantagraph farm editor It's said that once you learn to ride a bike you never forget how. The folks at Vitesse Cycle Shop in Normal have banked on people taking the adage to heart for 22 years. "It's an exciting business. Biking itself doesn't change, but the industry has always been adept at innovation," said owner Chris Koos, who first built a relationship with the bike shop as a customer more than 20 years ago. The ability to tap the latest innovations has been part of the recipe for success at the shop. The rest of the ingredients include a mentality of not only selling a wide variety of pedal-powered machines but also providing service through a team of mechanics who never met a bike they couldn't repair. "We are motivated for a high level of service. That differentiates us in the market," said Koos, who employs as many .as 16 part-time mechanics and sales staff during the busy biking season of April through October. "This is a fantastic biking town. You can't beat Constitution Trail, and the many flat county roads are wonderful. In fact, the trail is driving biking here. Kids' bike sales are booming. Families use the trail for fitness and to have a recreational activity they can do together. And we're about an hour away from many good mountain biking areas (Com- lara Park at Hudson, Jubilee State Park at Peoria and Kickapoo State Park at Danville)." Population growth in the community hasn't hurt business either. Koos noted the cycle shop has recorded double-digit growth for the last few years. Growing pains forced the business three years ago to move one block south on Linden Street to 206 S. Linden St. from its previous location of 19 years. The move afforded more showroom space and parking, and allowed addition of Often Running, a gear shop managed by longtime runner Mitch Hobbs. "I had always thought about running as a crossover sport from biking. Prior to the move, only one running store existed, and it went out of busi- . V ' .'f rsi ; : f ' v J i ' Cycle Shop I ! , I ..(. JQ Ax i i .. ... - , BM Vtm- nyHrfVn, . ness. And Mitch was available, and wanted to be involved," said Koos. "The community has embraced that side of the business because of the product offered and knowledge about the product." In addition to offering running and walking shoes, clothing and accessories, the business has been able to capture a healthy share of the school market. Koos credited the compatibility of running with the growing popularity of junior high and high school soccer programs as fueling an increase in that business. Often Running outfits schools in an area that stretches to Quincy and Rockford. A former, self-professed "aimless wanderer," Koos joined Vitesse in 1979 after college and working at a hardware store. The shop actually opened four years earlier as part of a chain owned by a Madison, Wis., company. In 1976, four individuals bought the shop since the Wisconsin company wanted to focus on making Trek bicycles. Koos bought one share of the ownership when a silent partner left the business. In 1990, he purchased the other three shares to become sole owner. Describing himself as a casual biker these days, the Normal Downtown Business Association president used to ride 200 miles or so every week when he first came to work at the shop. The PantagraphLORI ANN COOK "At that time, almost all the riding was long-distance touring. We had Tuesday night bike rides from the shop that attracted 40 or 50 people," said Koos. "Now mountain biking is more prominent, but the road biking is making a comeback on the West Coast. We may try to revive the evening bike rides." The shop could further play a role in fostering two of the latest trends in biking electrical-assist and recumbent bikes. The electrical-assist bikes contain a pack loaded with rechargeable batteries. Designed for aging baby boomers, the assist kicks in as the rider pedals, enhancing the ability to move forward. The electrical-assist bikes hit the market about two years ago. The Trek brand models featured at the shop have occupied showroom space for two months and sell for just under $1,000. Recumbent bikes have been around longer, but Koos said he and his mechanics have not-been happy with many of the earlier models. Because the chair reaches three times the distance of traditional bikes, gear adjustments often created headaches, he noted. The bike line sold in the shop contains a much simpler design that eliminates many of the maintenance problems, Koos said. The bikes offer riders a comfortable position seated in a chair atop the wheeled machine. A display at Vitesse Cycle Shop included biking gear for the head, body, feet and hands. t 3 T . HI 'SKJJ, . ih'l If X- t t JpKji ; i A I Jj An 1 !.' T""f WW ' Left, service manager. Ike Walker adjusted gears on a customer's bike. Many bikers bring in their machines for annual maintenance checkups. Far left, customers, from left, Brandon Hammond, Brent Hammond and Evan Carson, examined a new type of bicycle wheel. The three 14-year-olds live in Normal. ' "AY-"' O ucTyofciiiuiiuiiu OPERATiSG SINCE: 1976 Student wins ISU's Holbert Award !y CHRIS ANDERSON 'antagraph farm editor An outstanding scholar nd agribusiness graduate 3ft his mark on Illinois State taiversity's Agriculture lepartment Sunday by be-ig named a Holbert Award firmer during the depart-lent's annual awards pro-ram. Brad Cross of Minier, who ad captured outstanding ju-ior honors last year, is a lone Scholar and All Ameri-an Scholar. He also served ist year as ISU's Lincoln aureate, an honor awarded annually to one ,n ' ! H;':- - "- Brad Cross student at each Illinois university. Not only will Cross be noted in ISU history as a Holbert winner, but as the only student to collect the department's highest honor with a fellow scholar and early graduate Kristi Geary of Gaithersburg, Md. Ironically, the two were named Bone Scholars from the department for . the 1997-98 school year. During the previous 15 years, only two agriculture students had received the scholarship honor. Cross, a December graduate, has been working for Farm Credit Service of West Central DJi-. nois in Bloomington since January. The son of Richard and Cathy Cross of Minier plans to pursue his master's degree in business administration at the university this summer. While an undergraduate, Cross was a member of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, Alpha Lamda Delta National Honor Society, Golden Key National Honor Society and Red TasselMortar Board Society. He has been active in his church and community, where he served as league director for volleyball and basketball, and as the Olympia High School summer league baseball coach. Sharing the limelight was Reg Henry, ISU professor emeritus of agricultural mechanization and former ag department chairman. He became the 17th person to receive an Honorary Holbert Award. . Henry, who farms near Hudson, taught vocational agriculture in Missouri for 11 years before joining ISU as an assistant professor in 1969. He became department chairman in 1983, See HOLBERT, next page r& LOCALCALENDAR American Business Women's Association, Bloomington-Normal Charter Chapter 5:30 p.m. at Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, Bloomington; chapter is celebrating 35th anniversary; Peggy Elshof and Sue Bailey will be speakers; cost is $12. For more information, call Mary' Ann Attig at (309) 862-0339. Legal Secretaries of McLean County 5:30 p.m Tuesday at CJ's Restaurant, 2613 S. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington; Jan Engblom of the McLean County Jury Commission will speak following dinner. For more information, call Ina Bradford at (309) 828-4310. See CALENDAR, next page

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