Business

Do you have ‘bicycle face’? New shop hopes to contribute to contagion.

The staff of Bicycle Face, a new bicycle shop at 333 E. Short St. in Lexington: Taylor Stull, left, Robert Brandon and manager Jack Baugh. The three have a combined total of nearly 50 years of experience as professional bike mechanics.
The staff of Bicycle Face, a new bicycle shop at 333 E. Short St. in Lexington: Taylor Stull, left, Robert Brandon and manager Jack Baugh. The three have a combined total of nearly 50 years of experience as professional bike mechanics. teblen@herald-leader.com

“Bicycle face” was a malady physicians made up in the 1890s to scare women away from cycling, a new and popular pastime that gave them unprecedented mobility and independence.

Women were warned that riding a bicycle could make their delicate facial features “flushed, but sometimes pale, often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginning of dark shadows under the eyes, and always with an expression of weariness,” according to an 1895 article in The Literary Digest.

We laugh now, which is why the owners of Bicycle Face, a new Lexington bicycle shop, have decided to embrace the name.

Bicycle Face opened this month with a goal of bringing new services and community to Lexington cyclists. The shop also wants to celebrate a new definition of “bicycle face”: the expression of joy that comes from fun, exercise and self-mobility on two wheels.

“Yes, it’s a business and we want to make money,” said manager Jack Baugh. “But we also want to create a sense of community and make this a place where people want to come and get to know other cyclists. You’re much more likely to go out and ride if you have somebody to do it with.”

Rather than being at the back or side of the store, the repair shop has been placed in the center. “That helps open things up for people to hang out, because the shop is always where conversations take place,” Baugh said.

Also, the store will soon have a bar for coffee — and perhaps other beverages eventually — next to a sunlit seating area with free wifi and a big garage door to let in fresh air. Another local bike shop with refreshments is Broomwagon at North Limestone Street and Loudon Avenue.

Baugh said Bicycle Face plans to offer immediate walk-in and by-appointment bicycle repairs and have loaner bikes for customers who need one if parts must be ordered. The store also plans to rent bicycles, especially for visitors interested in riding on the nearby Legacy Trail.

Bicycle Face is at 333 E. Short St. in the former Hurst Office Supply building and original home of Good Samaritan Hospital. It becomes the second bike shop near downtown, after Pedal Power, which has been at Maxwell and South Upper Streets for decades.

Bicycle Face is owned by Clay and Edie Green, whose family owns Green’s Toyota of Lexington, and Nathaniel Cornelius, a Lexington firefighter and professional bicycle racer.

Baugh worked 10 years as a mechanic and manager at Pedal the Planet bike shop on Richmond Road, which closed last September. He also worked in the service department of Green’s Toyota and said he hopes to bring customer-service innovations from the auto dealership to the bike shop.

Baugh has two other experienced bike mechanics: Taylor Stull and Robert Brandon, who has been working in Lexington bicycle shops since his father owned Dodd’s Schwinn Cyclery in the 1980s. All three have extensive professional training and mechanic certifications.

Bicycle Face will be a dealer for the Specialized and Cervélo brands. Baugh said the store already has 90 bikes of all kinds in stock and is getting supplies of accessories.

Lexington has at least six other commercial bike shops, plus the non-profit Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop in the Breadbox complex at West Sixth and Jefferson streets. But local interest in cycling is booming with such groups as the Kentucky Mountain Bike Association and Social Cycling Lexington, a loose Facebook group of urban riders.

The 47-year-old Bluegrass Cycling Club now has nearly 1,000 members and was expecting a record 3,000 participants from across the country this weekend at its 40th annual Horsey Hundred ride from Georgetown.

Baugh noted that it is easy now for people to buy bicycles and accessories online, so Bicycle Face needs to become more than a store. The shop soon plans to offer bicycle maintenance classes and regular group rides from its parking lot.

“We don’t want to just be a store, but an experience,” he said. “We want to give customers a reason to come in.”

And perhaps succumb to bicycle face.

Tom Eblen: 859-231-1415, @tomeblen

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