Restocking the Stoke: Frostbike 2019

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Why I traveled to Minneapolis in the Dead of Winter in Search of Inspiration

I feel like one of the luckiest people alive to be able to do what I’m doing: owning and running a thriving bicycle shop in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico, a town I was lucky to stumble into almost completely by accident 20+ years ago.  Most of the time my excitement and energy for doing what I am doing is practically overflowing. I love coming to work and I love doing the work to try to make The Broken Spoke the best bike shop it can be.  But there are other times when quite the opposite is true and I am content to simply make sure the doors are getting unlocked in the morning and the shop is doing it’s best to serve whoever may walk through the doors and then turn the lights off and lock the doors at the end of the day.  The energy and inspiration to improve, innovate and evolve simply is not there.  Unfortunately, that’s the headspace I’ve been living in more than I’d like to admit in the past couple of months...

I would argue that the coolest thing about any bike shop is the people that are involved.  First, there’s the customers, almost all of whom share a love of bicycles and the outdoors and in my case, a few of whom who have come to be some of my best friends and everyday riding buddies.  Then there are the bike shop people.  By and large, people who choose to work in bike shops are an awesomely unique group of characters who share a common passion.  One of the things that I am most grateful for is the amazing people that I get to work with every day at The Broken Spoke.  They are hard working and dedicated but also keep it fun.  I find myself being impressed, inspired and entertained on a daily basis by the unique perspectives and energies that each person in our crew brings to the table--you guys rock!  There’s also the industry partners we’ve chosen (or in some cases have chosen us).  Again, pretty much across the board, these people are kindred spirits who share a common passion.  Furthermore, just about everybody who works in the bike industry got their start in a bike shop.  One of our industry partners is a company called Quality Bicycle Products.  QBP is a bicycle parts distributor located just outside Minneapolis, MN.  QBP is the sole distributor for a couple of the key brands that we have chosen to align ourselves with and as a result, they have become a strong partner for us.

For quite a few years now QBP has been a putting on bike industry event in February at their headquarters that they fittingly call FrostBike and this year they were kind enough to extend an invitation to me.  I have been to FrostBike twice before and I know it to be an incredibly well-run event usually consisting of a day or two of business seminars covering a broad range of topics and a day of expo where many of their vendors set up a booth and show off the latest products and innovations.  There is also nightly entertainment of one sort or another with excellent food and plenty of beverage options to meet everyone’s likings.  These evening activities become an ideal environment for networking, storytelling and idea sharing. They basically become industry parties that usually run late into the night.  They are always a lot of fun but more importantly, it’s the interactions that occur in these settings that I often find to be among the most memorable and valuable aspects of the whole event.

The invite from QBP came back in the late fall.  At the time I was out of commission with two broken wrists, the result of an incredibly boneheaded tactical miscalculation while mountain biking in Sedona (maybe a blog post to come on this, we’ll see..).   Winter was shaping up to be a good one and I was already missing out on some great early season skiing and as previously mentioned my bike shop stoke was waning.

“Do I really want to travel to Minnesota in the middle of February?”  I thought.  Inevitably it will snow and I’ll miss out on even more primo powder skiing (lol...) or since there’s no way to fly direct from NM to MN I’ll probably get stuck in an airport somewhere because that’s just how air travel is these days.  It has been a great event in the past but was it really worth it to go again this year?  Well, after going back and forth on the idea for a few weeks I decided to give it a go and I accepted the invite knowing it might be just what I need to reignite my excitement and get me in the right headspace for the fast approaching season.

Well, FrostBike is a wrap and I am actually on the plane on the return flight while writing this. There is not a doubt in my mind that I made the right call in going.  Of course, it did dump snow in Santa Fe (you’re welcome) and I missed out one of the most epic days of powder skiing Santa Fe has seen in years, but it was worth it.  I attended a bunch of great seminars, all of which I found to be highly useful and I came away with some great ideas as well as renewed energy and some of the necessary tools to implement some exciting new projects at The Broken Spoke that I believe will help us to remain relevant and competitive in our fast-changing society.  I also got excited by a lot of new products (a few that I already know I will be using myself) that I think our customers will be excited about too.  Most importantly I got to spend four nights and three days with an amazing group of men and women.  I reconnected with old friends and I came away with quite a few new ones and I had more conversations then I can remember about all the facets of owning or running a bike shop with people who are grappling with the very same challenges that I struggle with daily.  It is these interactions that have inspired me and make me feel like I am part of something bigger than just our one little bike shop in norther New Mexico.

So thanks QBP for helping me get the bike shop stoke back!  Here’s to piles of snow in the mountains, soon to be dry trails in town and the prospects for another positive and productive trip around the sun for The Broken Spoke.

Thanks for reading.