Posted by Charles Rehberg on Nov 06, 2017
North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
November 6, 2017
          See our new location: Club members, spouses and prospective members will get together Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Nectar Wine & Beer shop in Kendall Yards to view our club’s new meeting location and meet owner Josh White.  Appetizers will be provided; members and guests will pay for their own beverages.  Nectar is located at 1331 W. Summit Parkway. 
          Holiday time: With an early “White Christmas” setting outside, coordinator Sandy Fink quickly distributed most of the gift tags for needy Holmes families on Nov. 6. The goal is “45 for 45,” with 45 needy students getting up to $45 each.  Gift returns are due Dec. 4.
          Holiday time, cont.: President Chad Haverkamp said the annual club Christmas luncheon will be Monday, Dec. 11.
No ‘easy rider’ for bicycles, but why not?
          Though it was a nippy 34 degrees outside during the Nov. 6 club luncheon, the topic was bicycles, not skis or parkas. And Wheel Sport Bicycles owner Mart Neupert shared enough data to fill a bike’s saddlebag and enough enthusiasm to ride up Spokane’s Five Mile hills.
            Neupert, along with wife, Sarah, and partner Nick Salisbury, purchased Wheel Sport in May.  The firm has shops on the South Hill, the Spokane Valley and near-North on Division.  A fourth shop will open soon near the North Division “Y,” he said.
            Wheel Sport opened 45 years ago in 1972 with Dennis LeKander, who sold the shops to Terry Solinsky in 1986.  In turn, Mark had hired Salisbury as chief financial officer of Mark’s Crux Subsurface, Inc., a geotechnical exploration and construction company.  They fill in their “day jobs” with bikes.
            Neupert said what he sells is “freedom, independence, confidence and fun – just like your own first bike rides.”  Although most of our own bikes never had web sites like Wheel Sports’ “18-step process Body Geometry Fit Specialists” or “15 step-process for custom Fit Specialist” programs.
            Mark thoroughly detailed how cycling nationally “peaked” in 2000 with steady declines in ridership and dealers.  He titled his cautionary luncheon talk: “What in the heck are you doing?”  Among the “cautions” are rising minimum wages, up to $11.50 an hour next year and $13.50 an hour in year 2020. Mark’s workforce grows from just a
few in winters to 35 people from April to November.
            He added that from a national total of 6,195 dealers in year 2000, and a 3 percent decline each year, some 438 more dealers will close next year.
            But if the cycling industry is at times an uphill ride, Neupert loves riding and is determined to succeed.
            If an aging baby-boomer set makes riding more difficult, Mark talks about “the new wave of European-style e-cycles,” electronic assist devices for pedals or throttles which makes those steeper climbs more easily.  With starting prices of e-cycles beginning at $1,300 to $1,500, the price might be as steep as the ride for some cyclists, too.
            And while Mark concedes that Spokane and Coeur d’Alene are not always bike-friendly, he maintains that the cycling infrastructure here “is the best kept secret in the area.”  More arterials are adding bike lanes and rides like the Centennial Trail and Riverside Park are amazing venues, he said.
            Neupert also wants to add to his bike shops an “Amazon-like” customer service, with on-line sales and products delivered at home with new bikes, services and products.
            Mark’s enthusiasm warms to the topic of bicycling.  As he would say, “what the heck are we doing?”  And the weather should be in the 40s later this week. 
The bulletin producers:
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photos: Eric Johnson
Program coordinator: Brad Stark