“It began with one experience!”
So begins a weblog publish by Caitlin Murphy during which she describes a sunny however cool day in late Could 2019 — and a motorcycle experience that modified her life.
Her father-in-law, John Murphy, had two e-bikes and invited Caitlin to go on a experience with him. And they also went, up North Cheyenne Canyon Street, winding up at a closed portion of Gold Camp Street and alongside an previous railroad monitor, heading into the mountains. The fats tire bikes dealt with pavement, dust and heavy gravel with ease throughout the practically 30-mile trek.
Earlier than, Caitlin thought electrical bikes had been “dumb, it is dishonest, all the standard stuff.” However that fateful experience made her a convert.
“I nonetheless felt like I did a exercise,” she says, however she was thrilled with the space they coated and the hills they tackled with relative ease.
“I simply could not give up smiling,” Caitlin says.
She was working on the time at Grey Line Excursions of Colorado Springs, owned by John’s brother, Chuck, and run by Chuck Jr. It was a job that had boosted her confidence in regards to the office after 10 years or so largely as a stay-at-home mother. She and her ex-husband have three youngsters, ages 10 to fifteen; although she is now divorced after marrying into the Murphy household, she and her children are nonetheless very a lot a part of the household. “We’re very, very shut,” John says.
The bike experience on that Could day set her on a brand new profession path. “The following morning, we had been each like, ‘We have to share this,'” Caitlin says. By late summer time, she had began Rocke Mountain Bike out of her storage, renting e-bikes and delivering them to prospects at, for instance, their lodge or a trailhead.
“We simply dabbled in it at first,” she says. “We might simply sort of go exploring, see what they (the bikes) may do, how far they may get.”
2020, after a lull on the icy begin of the 12 months, was a hit, Caitlin says — fueled partially, maybe, by the pandemic, which drove individuals to flee the isolation of their properties by taking to the outside in droves. Nationally, gross sales of e-bikes soared final 12 months as individuals embraced them for recreation and even for commuting to keep away from public transit.
In late December, Rocke Mountain Bike moved right into a constructing on North Tejon Avenue owned by John, occupying an area that was previously residence to Mountain Chalet, which had moved elsewhere downtown. Rocke Mountain Bike now rents, sells and providers e-bikes.
“I all the time thought it might be wonderful to have a store in a downtown,” says Caitlin, 37, who grew up on a ranch in Wyoming and jokes that she has traded her horses for bicycles. “I am intrigued by the texture of downtowns.”
The advantages of e-bikes
Caitlin is effectively conscious of the talk within the biking world over e-bikes, with some purists remaining against them — whilst they have been reported because the fastest-growing section of the biking business.
“E-bikes have sort of a foul rap,” she says, “the place they’re perceived as extra of a bike than a bicycle, which isn’t the case.” However she says she has been met largely “with kindness” from the biking world.
The motor on an e-bike provides a lift, augmenting human energy however not changing it; for essentially the most half, you continue to have pedaling to do. Rocke Mountain Bike rents Class 2 bikes, which embrace a throttle that can activate the electrical drive system. However the throttle is often used solely in restricted circumstances, resembling serving to a rider get began on a hill or crossing an intersection extra shortly; should you depend on the throttle, you will not get far on a cost, Caitlin cautions.
“We’re not zooming round,” she says. “We’re not on singletrack, we’re not flying down endangering any hikers. We’re being accountable. We’re utilizing these bikes for the aim they’re meant for, which is distance or extreme climbs.”
She’s excited by a yearlong pilot program starting Could 31 that can permit electric-powered bikes on all trails maintained by town of Colorado Springs — and will introduce much more individuals to the advantages of e-bikes.
E-bikes permit somebody who’s older — or who, say, comes from Texas and needs to expertise a experience at altitude — to deal with terrain they may not be capable of in any other case and permits anybody to experience farther, she says.
“These mountains are not any joke,” she says. “You have to be an Olympian to deal with these. That is sort of our premise: Trip like an Olympian within the Olympic Metropolis. The e-bike leap sort of permits individuals to expertise one thing they would not usually.”
For instance, she factors to the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Biking Hill Climb, which final 12 months for the primary time included electrical bikes in an exhibition experience; this 12 months, there might be a aggressive race with e-bikes.
Their legs had been shaking and their lungs had been burning by the tip, however Caitlin and John, then age 74, each made it to the summit final 12 months. John has been into biking his complete life and says he is thrilled that e-bikes have saved him in that world, whilst he has aged and fought most cancers for a number of years.
“Science saved my life,” he says, “however e-bikes gave me again my well being.”
Rising the enterprise
Amid COVID, with demand for e-bikes hovering, it has been harder getting bikes and components. “All people’s again ordered,” John says.
However Caitlin, who not too long ago acquired a brand new cargo of bikes in, is working to take care of a “wholesome storefront” whereas persevering with leases. She hopes so as to add a retailer supervisor and maybe a few extra mechanics. Mechanic Don Niewald, who she knew from Grey Line, has been invaluable in preserving the enterprise going, she says.
“He is simply fearless,” she says, “We have ripped into motors; we’ll keep up till midnight to determine learn how to make a motorcycle run.”
Caitlin has no want to compete with common bike outlets. The main target will stay on electrical bikes, although she might department out to electrical scooters and trikes. Whereas she additionally sells commuter electrical bikes bikes, the rental enterprise will follow the fats tire mountain e-bikes.
The downstairs a part of the store, the place bike repairs and tune-ups are accomplished, is sufficiently big for workshops or occasions with different companies, she notes. She additionally envisions rising the enterprise throughout the state, maybe even franchising.
John Murphy, praising Caitlin for her “super will” and her dedication to buyer satisfaction, has little doubt she’ll succeed.
“I solely go on aces, straights and flushes on investments, and that’s Caitlin,” he says.