By Rob Wetterholt
As the last remnants of winter’s icy grip evaporate away under springtime’s sun, leagues of Kalamazoo area cyclists pull their bikes out of storage and take to the streets, trails and sidewalks as one season ends and another begins.
Pedal Bicycles shop owner Tim Krone knows all too well what the transition from winter to spring means for the thriving shop he opened two years ago located in downtown Kalamazoo. With an increasing amount of sales and repairs coming and going from the shop, Krone looks forward to having his hands full during the shop’s busy season.
Customer service is the first thing that pops into Krone’s mind when the weather finally begins to transition from cold, short days to warm, long days. Spring kicks off Pedal’s busiest time of year and Krone is excited to help people and, most importantly, have fun.
“It’s very, very hectic,” Krone said. “It’s very fun. Very fast paced, very exciting.”
With bicycles and customers flying in and out of the shop as the weather improves, Krone’s love of bicycles and his dedication to his customers hold steady. Whether it is a die-hard racer competing in a coming event who needs a new bike, or a student with a years-old in need of a tune up so that she can commute back and forth to class, Krone enjoys helping all types of riders.
This time of year, bike lanes in the city become meeting places where fellow cyclists can exchange waves and nods as they pedal from one destination to another. Mountain bike trails become narrow racetracks where friends compete against one another in a maze of curves, dips and bends through dense foliage and open fields. Bike shop parking lots across town become the starting point for “shop rides” where throngs of road cyclists meet and depart for long distance rides after a hectic day at work.
The Formative Years
This was the first thought to come into Krone’s mind following his introduction to the world of cycling over 10 years ago while still in his 30s. If there was ever a time in his life when Krone felt as though death was a breath away, he says it was after his introduction to spinning by a friend that ran a local YMCA.
After a few spinning sessions, Krone began to think that cycling would be more fun outside. Krone then purchased his first bicycle, which he loved riding. Competing in triathlon, mountain biking at local trails and participating in organized road cycling events became a way of life for Krone.
The more time he spent around various bike shops and cycling events, Krone developed an appreciation for all types of bikes and all of the people that are a part of the cycling world. Today, whether he is working with someone looking for a simple beach cruiser or a $10,000 race bike, Krone is eager to help cyclists match equipment to their needs.
“It would be fun…”
Following Krone’s introduction to the cycling world, he found himself progressing down a career path that didn’t interest him.
“I was at a point in my former career when I received very little job satisfaction,” Krone said. “I got a pretty good paycheck but I didn’t take much out of the job other than the paycheck.”
It was during this time that Krone began thinking about opening his own bicycle shop. With experience at another local Kalamazoo shop, Krone knew how to work on bikes and what he wanted his shop to be.
“I like the machines, I like talking to people, I’m not an absolute fool at business so I think I’ve got some potential there and maybe it’d work,” Krone said. “I wanted the shop to be more me. I wanted the dog on the floor. I wanted my technical staff in view of the customers so they can see that we work on bikes and we’re not just selling stuff.”
Texas Township? No. Plainwell? No. Allegan? No. Kalamazoo? Yes!
Pedal Bicycles almost started out life in Texas Township, quite a distance from its current location in downtown Kalamazoo. The reason for this, as Krone explained, is because Texas Township is a “mecca” for road cyclists. With miles and miles of open roads and very little vehicular traffic, Texas Township is a road rider’s dream.
Then something completely unexpected happened.
Space at 611 W. Michigan Ave. became available and Krone seized the opportunity to move in and set up shop. Having lived in the Kalamazoo area for more than 20 years, Krone felt that having a bike shop in one of southwest Michigan’s largest cities was the perfect venue for his new endeavor.
Pedal Bicycles was born.
Good Bye Winter, Hello Spring
Western Michigan University student and customer Kevin Martini has noticed the zeal that Krone exhibits every time he steps into the shop.
“It’s just excitement about cycling,” Martini said. “It’s not exclusivity about cycling, like cycling is some elite club. Their slogan does pretty well, ‘The Spin Within.’”
Running a successful bike shop that attracts business and like-minded individuals isn’t the only thing that Krone prides himself on as Pedal Bicycles enters its third year of operation in downtown Kalamazoo.
“It has been incredibly satisfying,” Krone said. “I have met so many nice people. I’ve pushed myself to learn new things, new skills. I have a wonderful group of people I work with and I trust them a lot with what goes on here so that’s very satisfying as well.”