Stump jumpers, cruisers, pump bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrids. What do they all have in common? The answer – men, women, and kids who have developed a passion for bike riding. That passion begins at an early age. I bet you can remember your first bicycle and the experience of learning to ride as though it were yesterday. Mom or dad running alongside, holding the seat steady, as you take that first ride. And, you remember that first spill as well! The skinned knee, bruised funny bone (although it certainly didn’t feel funny), or maybe the knot on the head. But those little setbacks didn’t deter your determination to get back in the seat.
Like many of our readers, Eugene Kersh developed a love for bike riding at an early age. Like the rest of us, riding was fun, it was an adventure, and it was our childhood ticket to freedom. For Eugene, it was also a competition – a chance to excel and win! At the age of 13, he began road racing. By the time he was 15, he had earned a USA CYCLING designation as a Category 1 racer. As a pro racer, he has shared the road with the likes of racing legends Davis Phinney, Roy Knickman, and Lance Armstrong.
It seems a natural progression that such an accomplished cycling competitor would one day open his own bike shop. Champion Cycling opened in 1992 by the Rogers Avenue Medi-Save and operated out of that location for 6 years before moving to a larger location near the intersection of Massard & Rogers in front of Art’s Bar-b-que. In the ten years that followed, Champion had outgrown yet another space. November of 2018, Kersh purchased the perfect property for Champion’s new home – 5500 Massard Road, right on the Bike Trail!
The new location is awesome! With 10,000 square feet of building space and more than 16 acres of land, Kersh has positioned his business for future growth. The showroom floor boasts over 100 Specialized bikes – stump jumpers, pump bikes, hybrids with sophisticated suspension systems, mountain bikes, road bikes, and of course, the top of the line Epic mountain racers. You’ll find kid bikes in every size – with or without training wheels. Literally, there is a bike for every member of your family from competition quality racers to comfy riding cruisers.
The walls are stocked with colorful MIP helmets equipped with battery operated reflector lights for night riding, gloves, shoes, bottle holders, and every piece of gear you could possibly need for a biking adventure. The warehouse space houses hundreds of bicycles along with unboxed gear and accessories. Champion Cycling is a biker’s paradise!
But Champion Cycling is more than a destination to buy one of the best bikes in the industry. Champion is a company where every customer matters. It’s not about selling you the most expensive or flashiest bike in the store, it’s about selling you the bike that is best for you. The staff that is helping you make that choice has intimate knowledge of biking.
“ We offer a professional fitting service,” explains Kersh. “It’s not about hopping on a bike and expecting it to be the right fit for you. The bike needs to be the right size and body fit. The handlebars, seat, and suspension systems need to be the right fit for your body, age, and intended use. We are not a one-size fits all shop.”
With all the attention to getting a customer on the right bike, one can’t help but wonder, “Is there a right or wrong way to ride a bike?”
“Ride light,” cautions Kersh. “That’s something that even I have to remind myself.” He continues, “Don’t put your weight on the bars, that puts stress on your hands and wrists. Instead, use your core muscles for balance and posture. This will give you a healthier, safer, and more enjoyable ride.”
When I took my 5-year-old granddaughter into the shop, Kersh took the time to assess her needs. As a beginner rider, she lacked confidence without the training wheels. She had outgrown the toddler size bike and would soon be outgrowing the bike that was temporarily the best fit. Our best option was to make some fitting adjustments to a bike that she would get 2-3 years of riding before she outgrew it. With the addition of training wheels, she could hardly wait to put on a helmet and hop on!
As a grandparent, I was extremely happy to see this child so excited over her new bike. But, as a customer, it warmed my heart as I observed the obvious joy Kersh was experiencing as he opened the front door for this enthusiastic child to take a spin through the parking lot.
“Getting a kid on a bike is the most rewarding thing we do here,” beams Kersh. And, as the father of an 11-year-old and a set of 12-year-old triplets, Kersh knows a thing or two about kids and bikes. “Biking is a great family activity,” says Kersh. “It’s a social sport. When we ride as a family or with a friend, we have a chance to talk and catch up on what’s going on in our lives. But, if you just want a workout, that’s okay too.”
As we wrapped up the interview, I couldn’t help but ask Kersh one last question, “How many bikes do you own personally?”
“A few.” Kersh smiles and adds, “I have a problem.”