Pedal Power: Greenville’s Cycling Scene Is Off-the-Chain
Oct 02, 2017 11:19AM
● By Emily Stevenson
By Brandy Woods Snow
Photography By Greenville Headshots
You might have seen a long string of them, clad in team spandex, on the country road near your home. They might roll past you on a leisurely Sunday trek down the Swamp Rabbit Trail. You might even see them tearing down the rocky terrain on the Paris Mountain trails. Cyclists, from national competitors to hobby enthusiasts, can be found in every corner of the county, and it doesn’t take much to see that a love for cycling is abundant in Greenville. Whether for sport, leisure, or even transportation, it’s a terrific way to get outside, enjoy nature, and work on fitness all at one time. A few smart business owners, who happen to share a similar love for the sport, have found their own unique ways to service the cycling industry in our area. And most of the time, they have a whole lot of fun doing it.
Piney Mountain Bike Lounge
20 Piney Mountain Rd, Greenville | 864.603.2453
pineymtb.com | facebook.com/pineymtb
“Our shop is more an all-inclusive experience than a shopping destination,” says Jackie Batson, owner of Piney Mountain Bike Lounge. In fact, that experience might include not only shopping for and servicing a host of bikes, but also enjoying a pint of craft beer at the bar, taking a ride on the pump track, partaking in a game of ping-pong or foosball, eating a food truck meal on the deck, or planning your next epic ride.
Jackie and her husband Chip opened in November 2016 with the intention to establish a trusted bike shop that offered something unique to the community. Having both been passionate about mountain biking for more than two decades and active in the racing scene, their dream got legs when Jackie noticed the empty building on Piney Mountain Road. The space offered the ideal location to attract both mountain bikers and road cyclists tackling the Paris Mountain terrain. She left her 12-year position of teaching middle school math, and together they moved from dream to reality.
Piney Mountain Bike Lounge sells mountain bikes and gravel bikes, specializing in “dirt.” On-staff mechanics, highly respected and revered in the community, service all types of bikes from recumbents to road bikes, cruisers to downhill varieties. They also aim to teach customers who want to be part of the process, working side by side while teaching them the skills required to play a part in the building of their own bike. The large, comfortable in-house bar area features 14 taps and also offers 50 different types of canned beer as well as wine, cider, gluten-free beer, and non-alcoholic beverages.
12 West McBee Ave, Greenville | 864.419.2944
www.reedyrides.com | facebook.com/reedyrides
Instagram: @reedyrides | Twitter: @reedyrides
Several years ago, the visiting cast of Les Miserables took more than a dozen bikes out while visiting Greenville. Several weeks ago, it was a bachelorette party. No matter what the occasion, Tate Putnam, owner of Reedy Rides, looks forward to hearing the returning groups chat about all the fun they had on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and around town.
In business since 2010, Putnam is the third owner of Reedy Rides, though he’s been involved in the business since its inception, and he’s worked to maintain the same core principles: Get Out and Explore and Enjoy the Ride.
“We love the outdoors and helping people get outside to play,” says Putnam. “Whether it’s a whole family or just one person, we have the perfect bikes for the trail and surrounding area.”
Reedy Rides offers options for everyone with adult and child bikes, tag-alongs, trailers, and tandems. The company offers an extensive fleet of bikes, which can accommodate large groups anytime of the week, and pays particular attention to bike style as well as gearing on both the 7-speed and 3-speed models.
In addition to putting lots of bikes on the trail, Reedy Rides also engages in special group activities. Recently, the company sponsored a ride and lunch that included a scavenger hunt for riders and non-riders as part of a team’s group-building activity.
“The cycling community is important to Greenville,” says Putnam. “The company has been around for eight years, and I’ve been involved in local cycling for over 30 years. Getting people on bikes and helping them see how easy and fun the activity can be is what we do best.”
The eBicycle Store
550 South Main St, Greenville | 864.243.8992 | theEBicyclestore.com | facebook.com/The-ebicycle-store
While a strong headwind and a few challenging roads in the Dutch countryside proved exasperating for John Rekers and Inge Rekers-Flackett’s bike trip, the senior Dutch lady who passed them didn’t seem fazed. Her casual skirt flitting in the breeze and her smile, all while pedaling a load of groceries on the rear rack, seemed almost a direct foil to their breathless jaunt in spandex.
Turns out, she was riding an eBike, a pedal-assist electronic bicycle, which have become a popular choice in Europe. From that experience, John and Inge hatched a plan to bring eBikes to Greenville in an effort to increase accessibility to cycling for all people. Though they look like traditional bikes, eBikes feature a quiet electric motor that gives the rider a boost when on varied topography or on extended rides. Despite the motor, bikers must continue to pedal the entire time and can dial-up the assistance level as needed.
“Our customers are typically not currently ‘bikers’,” says Rekers. “We cater to those that may not be comfortable in a conventional bike store. The purpose of our store is getting more people on bicycles—people of any age or skill level.”
So in response to any naysayers—no, it’s not cheating. eBikes are simply a suitable alternative for regular folks who want to partake in the sport or discover a new method of commuting.
And while increasing cycling’s reach to the community at large is the primary goal, supporting the industry in Greenville and safety for all bikers is of paramount importance to John and Inge. He serves on the board of BikeWalkGreenville, advocating ‘active transportation’ throughout the Greenville area.
Says Rekers, “We believe that as safer biking infrastructure is built, more and more people of all ages will adopt biking as a convenient, healthy, and fun mode of transportation and recreation.”
45 Pete Hollis Blvd, Greenville | 864.359.4796
hincapitesports.com | facebook.com/hincapiesportswear
Instagram: @hincapiesports | Twitter: @hincapiesports
With a name like Hincapie, excellence in the cycling industry is not only expected but delivered. Brothers Rich and George Hincapie began racing at eight years old, working hard and excelling in the sport much like their father Ricardo. While George dedicated his life to training and fulfilling the dream of becoming one of the most respected and accomplished cyclists in history, Rich took his passion for the sport in a new direction, first promoting races across the Southeast and then launching Hincapie Sportswear in 2003. To accommodate the company’s quick growth, Rich reached out to his family for support, starting a factory with his uncle Jorge in Medellin, Colombia, to produce custom clothing for the business. Now with more than 100 employees, the factory manufactures only Hincapie apparel, allowing for the highest in quality control.
“The business was truly built from the ground up,” says Lindsay Niedringhaus, director of marketing at Hincapie Sportswear. “Both brothers are involved in the day-to-day operations. Most people are surprised to discover that George is not simply a ‘figurehead.’ He spends a good amount of time in the office, joining in meetings on marketing strategies and apparel designs, and is always happy to shake fans’ hands who walk through the door.”
A strong sense of community underlies every facet of the business. Rich has hosted the Hincapie Spring Series for more than 20 years, and each October, the company hosts a gran fondo, bringing thousands of cyclists from all over the world to our area. Proceeds support Meals on Wheels. They’re expanding the gran fondo to a series, with the first expansion taking place in Chattanooga in May 2018. The Hincapie brothers also own boutique hotel, Hotel Domestique, as well as Restaurant 17, and are also starting a nationwide cycling club called Hincapie Cycling Society, with the aim to encourage community and camaraderie through the sport of cycling.
Sunshine Cycle Shop
1826 North Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville | 864.244.2925 sunshinecycle.com | facebook.com/sunshinecycle Instagram: @sunshinecycle
Known for its quirky and unique home in a WWII-era Quonset hut relocated from the old Donaldson Air Base, Sunshine Cycle Shop has become a sort of landmark for those driving along North Pleasantburg Drive. For cycling enthusiasts, the company’s name has become synonymous with great customer service and product knowledge.
As the oldest locally owned bicycle shop in the Upstate, Sunshine Cycle Shop has earned a reputation for being on the forefront of Greenville’s ever-evolving cycling community during the last four decades.
“Due to our longevity, we’ve seen the trends come and go,” says owner Mike McMillan. “Our advice and product knowledge is based on expertise gained during this time as well as our own active roles in the on- and off-road cycling scene.”
And as participants in the sport, McMillan and his team can offer customers firsthand accounts for almost every product sold.
“Most product lines in our store we’ve used on our personal bikes and can therefore offer personal recommendations.”
The company offers three premium bicycle lines—Giant, Felt, and Santa Cruz—that offer the highest standards of quality and warranty support. In addition to the bike and a full line of accessories, Sunshine Cycle Shop also boasts a full service shop that includes custom bike builds, hydraulics and suspension maintenance, and custom wheel-building services.
“Our solid reputation is directly attributed to our attention to detail and level of customer care. We love what we do, and we treat our customers the way we’d want to be treated.”
And while Sunshine Cycle’s intimate knowledge of the industry standards and new product lines is paramount, McMillan also says the company’s presence in Greenville has proven invaluable. The area’s ever-increasing love of cycling and varied topography provides unlimited opportunities for all types of cycling while also giving employees the opportunity to support and participate in local cycling teams as well as charity rides and local events.