Finding the Perfect Fit
How a Stevens Point Area bike shop, and its owner Breanna VanDeHey, find a home while fitting the needs of cyclists and a community.
Growing up, Breanna VanDeHey spent a lot of time in a bike shop in central Wisconsin. In fact, she actually grew up in one. Her family owned The Sports Den, in Marshfield, Wisconsin.
It is no surprise that it was her first job. When she left home, the bike shop remained the constant, working through college at shops across the country.
She cautioned owning or working at a bike shop may not seem like a career that makes a difference. However, she added that there is inherent joy in helping someone find the perfect bike and watching them test ride it with a huge smile on their face. “I love helping people experience the freedom and carefree joy that cycling can bring – especially after you find a bike that meets their unique needs,” adds VanDeHey.
“I have always felt at home in a bike shop.”Breanna VanDeHey
Hostel Shoppe’s original owner, Rolf Garthus is a perfect example of how important the right fit can be. As an avid cyclist for much of his life, he began to experience back and neck pain that limited his riding in the early 1990’s. He was reintroduced to recumbent bikes and quickly realized their potential. His passion led to the development of his own brand of recumbent bicycles, Volae, in 2003.
“We often have customers that initially think they want a traditional bicycle,” said VanDeHey. She added that those riders often end up test riding a recumbent only to fall in love the comfort of this non-traditional option. VanDeHey attests some of that to the ease of riding, specifically recumbent trikes. “The stability helps riders who never learned how to ride a traditional bike, or have a fear of falling, hop off and ride into the sunset.”
Even cyclists accustomed to riding traditional bicycles can see improvements to their ride. VanDeHey noted the freedom that recumbent bikes and trikes can provide. Just as with Garthus, she has seen the benefits of recumbents to those suffering from bad backs, ALS, strokes, Parkinsons, hand or leg weakness. “We can almost always find a way to help a rider feel more comfortable, safe and secure.” Customizations are made to meet a rider’s needs, from adding a head, neck or wrist rest, installing ‘easy-up’ handles (making it easier to get in and out), leg braces, switching the shifting or braking mechanisms, or adding electric assist. “One of my greatest joys is getting to help people experience the joy and freedom of cycling.”
Cycling and the needs of riders continue to evolve much like the Hostel Shoppe. Started in 1974, Hostel Shoppe is now one of the largest recumbent bike shops in the world. Today the shop in Stevens Point, Wisconsin is a destination dealership with customers from all over the country. They offer a wide array of bikes, including 6 lines of recumbent bikes and trikes in store from high end brands such as Specialized and Salsa, in addition to numerous recumbent brands like ICE, HP Velotechnik, and Hase. Add to that a vast array of accessories that allow riders of all abilities to safely and comfortably ride. The shop also even offers a rental fleet from Specialized including road bikes, fat bikes, electric assist bikes, and path and pavement bikes, available by the half-day or the weekend.
Cyclists can shop some of the options without ever leaving home. “We have an extensive on-line store allows customers from all over the world get the parts, accessories and even recumbents.” Hostel Shoppe is one of the few dealers in the country that can ship fully assembled recumbents. “We can have it all sized up and ready to go, so when it arrives all they have to do is open the box, hop on, and go!”
Although, VanDeHey says cyclists should visit the Stevens Point Area in person just to ride the trails and routes of this bike-friendly community. “The cycling infrastructure in the Stevens Point Area is amazing.” Add to that 4 different bike shops that are well-equipped to help cyclists, VanDeHey noted that the vast network of paths, including the Green Circle Trail system, plentiful bike lanes, and beautiful routes make biking in the region a joy. “Significant expansions made to mountain bike trails at Standing Rocks County Park and the new lodge definitely are hidden gems!”
In August, the Hostel Shoppe will welcome riders to the Pledge Ride Challenge, a bike your own challenge to support the Boy’s and Girls Club. The 2020 re-envisioned for COVID ‘Pedal Point Rally’ merges two long-standing events in the region, the Midwest Recumbent Rally and Bike for Boys & Girls Club. Future events will include a bike rodeo for kids, demo’s, hosted rides, as well as live music, food trucks, and a beer garden. “We are trying to connect with the community, raise funds for a good cause, and bring cyclists together whether they ride on 2 or 3 wheels, sitting up or laid back!”Learn more about the Hostel Shoppe here. Find out more about biking in the Stevens Point Area here and order a free Visitors Guide to start planning your trip today.