By: Eric Sandbulte, The Brookings Register

Biking is as popular as ever in Brookings, and staff at the newly opened Spoke-N-Sport hope to continue to boost the local biking community.

Spoke-N-Sport is a Sioux Falls-based business owned by Chad Pickard, who has been in the bike industry for 30 years, starting with a job at the Bike Barn in Sioux Falls.

Even before then, bikes were an important part of the Sioux Falls native’s childhood.

“For me and my twin brother, the bike for us was really our freedom. Our parents didn’t really want to give us rides everywhere, but they said if we rode bike, we could go. Our friends lived way on the other side of town, so that freedom allowed us to see our friends often,” he said.

It let them explore the community. Eventually, he realized his love to tinker with mechanics and employment at bike shops. Then, 15 years ago, he bought one.

With business doing well there, he looked for opportunities to open another location.

“We have had a lot of customers from Brookings that come to Sioux Falls, and there have been requests for us to open stores in Brookings. We have had those requests from other communities as well, so just the request alone doesn’t make it appealing, but it does say there is a need,” Pickard said.

The growing cycling infrastructure in Brookings and the city’s master bike plan, commitments to bike education and making Brookings bike friendly helped convince Pickard that Brookings was the right location for another store.

People here want more “bike stuff,” Pickard said. “We’re selling an awesome experience, whether it’s just riding around town or going on the single-track, it’s fun. It’s also healthy and good for the environment.”

He opened the downtown Brookings store Oct. 6.

One of the things he prides himself in is having knowledgeable, helpful staff and the services and products customers need.

“Cycling can be very confusing. … You’ve got so many different varieties of bikes. You’ve got the products that you use with the bikes, whether it’s clothing or accessories. We know that our customer’s not looking for a specific bike. They are looking to have fun, looking to reduce stress, they’re looking to travel, they’re looking for transportation. What I think we can do well is help them fill that need with the products that we have,” Pickard said.

“Our No. 1 interest is in the customer, getting them out riding, and asking them questions about what their aspirations are. We like to serve everybody from families and kids up to people who like to ride for fitness, people who want to go to work, and really setting them up with the proper set of gear,” Spoke-N-Sport Manager Brittany Kleinsasser said.

She’s been biking since her youth, too, and has gotten more involved in the community aspect of the activity, even serving on the Brookings Park & Recreation Board. She’s worked at a bike shop for almost four years.

Even though Spoke-N-Sport is in the former location of Sioux River Bicycles & Fitness, what they offer has changed.

“We are the Trek retailer here. We also have available the Salsa brand, which is a really exciting adventure bike series. We also have Felt and Giant,” Kleinsasser said.

After they get the business better established, they hope to begin holding various events to help get people excited about biking.

“The Sioux Falls store has an annual Cranksgiving, where it’s a bike ride but you’re also donating food to people in need,” Kleinsasser said. That store has also done a New Year’s Day ride for 30 years. “It’s some of those things that bring community together on a consistent basis.”

Store hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Expanded hours are expected in the spring.

The store can be reached by phone at 696-7979 and visited online at www.spoke-n-sport.com.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at esandbulte@brookingsregister.com.

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