Then & Now: Kelowna’s roots tied to cycling

Kelowna Cycle, the oldest bike shop in the city, has been a part of accommodating our cycling desires since 1948.

Kelowna Cycle has been a big part of the community since it was located on Lawrence Avenue in downtown Kelowna.

Cycling has always been a part of Kelowna dating back to its early history as a way to get around.

And that spirit of ditching our four-wheeled vehicles for something of the two-wheeled variety continues today, whether it involves cycling to and from work, on streets or around hillsides or just to run an errand.

And Kelowna Cycle, the oldest bike shop in Kelowna, has been a part of accommodating our cycling desires, dating back to 1948 when the store opened.

Kelowna Cycle was originally located on Lawrence Avenue in the downtown core as a bicycle sales, rental and repair business.

During the colder months, Kelowna Cycle promoted winter activities and the place to go for hockey equipment and skate sharpening.

In 1952, Kelowna Cycle relocated on Lawrence Avenue, owned and operated by A. Van Dyke, who then sold it to E. Hollindsworth.

In 1970, the business was purchased by the Van den Elzen family. They relocated the store again to Doyle Avenue, which would ultimately close in 1990, as well as opening a new store on Pandosy Street in 1986.

Current owner Patrick Rosen started working for Kelowna Cycle in 1993, and bought the business in 2008.

Rosen said he grew up loving to go cycling, with one of the strongest childhood memories being the first time he rode his bike successfully without training wheels.

“As a young guy, my dad worked with me to learn how to ride a bike on training wheels, and then without them,” he recalls. “I remember there was quite a few falls involved, but then one Sunday I got on the bike, pushed one foot down on the pedal and started to coast forward and stay balanced. I just thought that was an amazing thing, it gave me a great sense of accomplishment.”

Rosen said his philosophy behind Kelowna Cycle is to allow his customers to have that same experience, whether they are first-time youngsters or adults looking to get back into cycling for health or as a recreational pursuit.

“I’ve never been a competitive cyclist. Riding a bike for me is more about the sense of freedom it gives you,” he said, noting that Kelowna offers a wide variety of cycling challenges.

He says Kelowna offers a flat area along the Okanagan Lake foreshore for recreational cyclists, more hills and steep inclines to challenge serious road cycling enthusiasts, and opportunities in the back country and local parks for mountain or trail bike riders.

“It is becoming a more cyclist-friendly city with the creation of bicycle lanes on the road, isolated areas for cyclists to use at intersections. Motorists and cyclists are becoming more aware about being educated on how to share the road…but it does take time,” Rosen says.

Kelowna Cycle is back on its business feet after the Pandosy shop was heavily damaged by a fire in December 2011.

“The fire required us to do a complete rebuild of the store and replace all the inventory and equipment,” Rosen says.

“In the first week after the fire, we decided to turn a warehouse space on Sutherland Avenue we had into a retail store to keep contact with our customers while the Pandosy store was being rebuilt.”

Kelowna Cycle was rebuilt six months later, and Rosen decided to keep the warehouse space as a retail outlet, calling it The Hub.

“It caters more to the urban cyclist commuter, someone who wants a bike as a means of transportation to and from school, to and from work, or to use on a daily basis. It now has a unique product mix and a somewhat different feel from our Pandosy store.

“It’s a case of something good out of something bad. It takes a while to rebound from a fire, but little by little we have rebounded. The customers who were with us prior to the fire returned and we’ve made new customers along the way as well.”

Rosen says the goal for his staff is to break down those information barriers and match up the appropriate bike to meet each person’s needs, whether they are a triathlete, someone who enjoys competitive mountain biking or someone who just wants to add cycling to their  recreation lifestyle.