Several years ago, Geoff Clark was urged by a friend to open a bike shop in New Albany. At the time, he hadn’t even considered opening his own business, let alone moving back to the Midwest from New Jersey.
But early last summer, Geoff was asked to consult with The New Albany Company about attracting a bike shop to the area. After spending a few days visiting Columbus bike shops, going on group rides, and talking to local riders about the cycling scene, it became clear that Geoff’s own ideas and vision aligned with The New Albany Company’s. Suddenly the idea of opening his own bike shop didn’t seem so crazy. This time when he was asked, he agreed.
Geoff said, “Within a few days, I had a business plan put together, and financing fell into place.” Despite a few hurdles along the way, VeloScience Bike Works officially opened for business in November of 2012.
Cycling in New Albany
Geoff considers New Albany to be an ideal location for cyclists. He said, “We have a great variety of terrain here–flat, rolling hills, some really steep climbs if you go east a few miles. There is very little traffic outside the town, and the roads are in great condition. We have a nice network of bike trails in town and nearby, and since Highway 161 was built, the old State 161 roadway makes a terrific conduit to safely ride out into the countryside, away from traffic and congestion. Additionally, it’s easy to get to New Albany from other parts of the city, and there is plenty of free parking around town, so many of the local cycling clubs start their group rides here. The Starbucks in Market Square – right next to the VeloScience storefront – has long been the meeting place for group rides.”
Those elements made it an easy decision for Geoff to make the move and open his own bike shop. He said, “I think we’ve done a great job of creating a fun, warm, engaging environment that gets people excited about cycling. Whether you ride just to the farmers market or ice cream shop, or you race professionally, you do it because it’s fun. That’s what it’s all about. We’ve stocked the store with products that we trust, that we know will enhance your riding experience, and help you have more fun.”
[As the weather warms up, Geoff hopes to host a weekly ride from The Gramercy New Albany. Stay tuned for more info, or visit thecyclingclub.org to learn about other group rides.]
[The Gramercy New Albany Ambassadors Visit VeloScience Bike Works]
When it comes to philanthropy, Geoff’s philosophy is simple: “If you’re able to help others, why not?”
After talking with Pelotonia Founder Tom Lennox, Geoff realized that many bike shops were benefitting from Pelotonia, but Pelotonia wasn’t benefitting from them in return. That inspired Geoff to create an incentive for riders that would also directly impact the goal of raising funds for cancer research. Through their new program, 15% of every dollar spent at VeloScience by registered Pelotonia riders is contributed directly to their Pelotonia fundraising accounts.
In addition to supporting cancer research, VeloScience is also giving back to children in the community. When Geoff’s friend Mac Macdonald purchased a bike for his 9-year-old daughter, Sophia, she wanted to give her old bike to another little girl. Geoff said, “That’s a pretty impressive frame of mind for a 9-year-old to have. She’s a terrific kid with great instincts who has learned early the rewards of helping others.”
Mac brought Sophia’s old bike into VeloScience, where Geoff cleaned it up and restored it to perfect condition. He said, “Since it was winter and I had lots of extra time, we decided to expand this into a bigger program.” After collecting and restoring used bikes, the first batch was delivered to children at Parson’s Elementary in January. Geoff was amazed by the response. He said, “We plan to keep Sophia’s ReCycling going year-round. The city of New Albany has allowed us to use a vacant office building for storage, so we have a place to stash bikes while they are waiting on parts. And we’ve made a great connection with a church in Delaware County that is collecting bikes on our behalf. So far we have donated 28 bikes, and there is a steady stream of bikes coming in. We hope to expand the program into the middle schools on the south side, too.”
[If you have a bike to donate to Sophia’s ReCycle, please drop it off at VeloScience Bike Works (map) or call (614) 855-9590 to arrange for pick-up.]