718 cyclery

Shop Ride Report: Graham Hills NY, September 27, 2015

September 26th, 2015

Fall temperatures of 60 degrees and an overcast skies met the 718 crew as we gathered up at Graham Hills in Mt. Pleasant, NY.  Riders were split on transport method, with half arriving by car and the other half by a 45 minute train ride on The Harlem Line of The Metro North Railroad.

We had a great mix of riders, from experienced Continental Divide veterans to Mid-Atlantic shredders to beginners.

The group took off from the parking lot, determined not to get lost "this time". Within 20 minutes, we were already debating where we thought we were on the map.

The group broke into 2 groups based on interest level in certain trails.  One interesting thing that was going on was a few riders testing our bike packing set-ups in preparation for our Vermont Trip this weekend

As with other courses in Westchester County, the going was rocky and rooty.  In addition, alot of tree cover has fallen, causing the trails to be semi-obscured by leaves.

The ride started at 10am, and some riders stayed on until 6pm. The goal of this group is to introduce new-comers to mountain biking, while providing experienced riders and escape from the city.

Shop Ride Report: Blue Mountain NY, September 12, 2015

Under heavy threat of rain that never came, 718 Cyclery hosted a group ride at the Blue Mountain Preserve, in Peekskill NY. As conditions are treacherous to begin with at Blue Mountain, and as there was rain the day before, we didn't bring our carbon hardtail fleet members from Yeti and Focus

We ended up bringing some great bikes from Kona and Salsa

As is customary, riders arrived by train and car.  The train ride was just over 60 minutes on the Hudson Line of Metro North out of Grand Central Station. Riders arrived at the Peekskill Station at 9:45, and we at the trailhead by just after 10am.

Blue Mountain holds a special place in many local mountainbikers hearts are rocky and unforgiving. I still have scars on my shins from a visit a year ago. 

Blue Mountain is also notorious for getting lost at.  I have known many riders who spend alot of time at Blue, and who still complain of getting lost.  It can add to the immersion, but sometimes you just want to know where you are.

I had 2 goals on this ride. The first was to try our my new 2016 Kona Explosif . My second goal was to not get lost.

The first part, riding my new bike, went well.  The bike represented a number of firsts for me.
  • First time on 27.5" wheels
  • First real time on a modern steel mountain bike
  • First real trail time on a hardtail
Blue Mountain and its unforgiving rock piles was probably not the best place to dive right in.  I normally ride a 2014 Salsa Horsethief 1 (29'er, full suspension), so I am used to rolling over things opf a certain size.  On the Explosif, I found that I actually has to steer a bit more and not rely on the bike just rolling over everything.

As a new hardtail rider, i also found that without a rear suspension to take some of the burden, it was just left to me and the fork to absorb the blows....which at Blue Mountain can be pounding.

As far as the "not getting lost part", that didn't go so well for most of us. My plan for my ride was to do a long circuit ion the Blue trail.  I was on it as far as I was concerned, until all of the sudden I wasn't.  There is a gun range off to the south of the park, and you can actually use the sound to get bearings.

Shop Ride Stillwell Woods August 29, 2015

After a year of hitting the trails every Tuesday, 718 Cyclery has shifted our group rides to Saturdays. Today's ride was at Stillwell Woods in Syosset Long Island (NY).

The idea behind there rides are to get experienced mountainbikers rides out on the trails, as well as introduce new riders to the sport.

In order to show how easy it is to escape from NY, we arranged for one group to travel by train. The Long Island Rail Road has some specific rules about train travel with bikes, so we made sure everyone was up to speed. The group took 2 trains, and consisted of 12 riders and 3 718 staff members.

Arrival of the first train load

We were fortunate enough to bring some great demo bikes for our riders to test out, including bikes from Kona, Salsa, Focus and Yeti.

The group moved out from the parking lot and into the wood at about 10:30, and reminded riding until about 2pm.  We had lots of bike swapping and testing. The conditions were rather dry, leading to some sandy stretches, and also leading to a few spills.

Looking forward to our next ride on September 12th at Blue Mountain. Sign up Here

To Grow Your Business, Shut It Down

Last July, I found myself in a hotel banquet room in Utah, talking to Chris Kelly of Topanga Creek Bicycles. I was bemoaning how busy and exhausted I was in the shop. We just had too much work, and the shop was like a hurtling train.

Topanga Creek Bicycle Schedule
Chris proceeded to tell me about a magical place called Topanga Creek Bicycles...where they shut down and "UnPredict Their Wednesdays" every week.  Chris is the owner of this amazing shop that has the clarity to see that shutting down and stepping away might be the best thing for a busy shop.

Chris got into the details, but there weren't too many.  "If you shut on Wednesday and go riding, people will come back on Thursday...and if they're angry we just make them banana bread".  Basically, their Wednesday plan is to just go riding with employees, friend and families. By now, I had drank the Kool-Aid and washed down the banana bread.

When I returned back to Brooklyn, I explained the plan to my staff, and they loved it.  We have been "UnPredicting out Tuesdays" ever since (we couldn't do Wednesday because of my teaching schedule).

Closing the shop to go riding has had so many great advantages that the minor negatives have been washed away. Check out our collection of Shop Ride Films and Photos here

Creating a Narrative: Being able to talk to our customers abut rides, and them invite them along is a great way to connect. We look to connect with our customers in many more ways than retail transactions, and a shop adventure is a great way to do that.  Also, the stories told about riding this bike or that helmet upon return become more fleshed out and less sales-brochure-like.

Our customers respect that we close to go riding...it cements us as being committed to riding and our well-being.

Exercise: We could all use more exercise. Its sobering to discover that I had gotten in worse shape since diving head long into the health and fitness segment of retail. Devoting 1 day a week to exercise isn't a life-changer, but its a start.

Morale: Shop morale has always been good, but it gets downright giddy as Tuesday approaches.  Upon our return to the shop the day after, there are great laughs and stories to be had again and again. This connects us far more than a work relationship.

Taking a Break from the City: Taking a break, hitting the road with friends and seeing trees and ducks is a great thing.

Riding our products. We have great bikes and products from the best manufactures in the world. What better way to sell them than to take them out for a ride.  We get asked all the time, "what do you ride".  Building experience on many pieces of equipment in many locations makes what we do less like selling and more like giving a friend some advice.  At 718, we have no salespeople, so our ability to sell is directly derived from our experiences with these products.

Visiting other Shops. A key part of the trip is to visit other shops. This is great experience for all of us to see how other places are run.  I always ask the owner what advice they would have given themselves (essentially me) 20 years ago   Aside from most of them saying "Get out while you can!", there have been many great pieces of wisdom.  We joke that we either leave the shop feeling good about what we are doing, of leave the shop realizing how far we have to go.

Visiting Tasty Diners: Another mandatory piece of the trip is finding a diner.  Eating way to much BEFORE our ride has become another unfortunate tradition

Visiting Woodhaven, Queens:  Unless Tijon moves, we have to go to Woodhaven to pick him up

Access to key employees: The gang doesn't realize it (actually, I am sure they do), but having unfettered access to the employees who make 718 a reality is a great thing.  You cant get 2 bike shop people alone for 5 minutes without talking shop...now image 5 in a car for 90 minutes.

Sales are up: Sales are up 19% over the same point last last year since we started the rides

Creating a Market: Hidden down the list here...we are simply looking to "invent" a market for mountain-biking in NYC. Step 1 is to travel to these great venues and show our customers how easy it is to get there...step 2 involves the amazing bikes we have from Salsa, Surly, Kona and Yeti, to name a few

$$: We started these rides in early September, and are planning on going as long as we can into the winter. Everyone has put $20 in...last person riding gets it. So there's that. 

In conclusion, this approach seems so non-intuitive on paper.  Shutting down 1 day out of 7 surely wont grow a business. Surely, it does.

Somethings these endeavors become monsters, threatening to consume everything it its wake.  Shutting it down shows it who's boss.

Time away makes the heart grow fonder. Working in an ice cream store 7 days a week will cause you to hate ice cream, and no one wants that

Check out our collection of Shop Ride Films and Photos here