A former West Seattle car lot is now home to a bicycle business. 3 weeks ago, we briefly mentioned the impending move of Cycle U to an ex-Huling site; now, they’re two days away from opening, so here’s a closer look.
Story and photos by Mary Sheely
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
After standing vacant for two years, the former home of the Huling (then briefly Gee) Chrysler dealership is getting a new tenant. And this time, it’s all about the bikes. Cycle University will hold its first class this Saturday in the space at 4550 Fauntleroy (map). And according to founder Craig Undem, cycling coach Ed Ewing, and manager Brad Loetel, a former car dealership is the perfect place for bicycle training classes, sales, and repair.
Cycle U’s signature blue and orange now adorn the walls, but the building’s giant windows, offices, and a partial wall down the middle of the main floor all are all intact. In a humorous nod to the former occupants, a sign reading “We Want You Very Satisfied!” has been left above one of the offices – after all, Undem says, Cycle U wants to satisfy their customers, too.
“We’re bicycle coaches first,” says Undem, a professional coach who has raced in the World Championships of Cyclocross, won a World Cup medal in Mountain Bike Racing, and placed second in the US in Elite Criterium Championships. “I think that the advice that people get will set us apart.”
The first phase of West Seattle’s Cycle U will be their trademarked InCycle classes.
They’re somewhat similar to the stationary bike classes that Ewing teaches at Allstar Fitness, but during InCycle, participants use their own bicycles indoors with a device that tracks their performance. InCycle riders are also a bit more serious about their cycling performance.
“It’s a structured training program,” Ewing explains. “The fitness assessment is based on wattage – the actual power that you generate. Everyone has a sustainable wattage output for a certain amount of time. Training above and below that level is how we build your fitness.”
Unlike relying on a heart rate, which can be high even when a person is fatigued, Ewing says, “Wattage doesn’t lie.”
InCycle classes will be held at the facility in groups of 25, down from the 30-person classes at Cycle U’s Sand Point location. Ewing says that this will help coaches get more of an individual feel for the performance of the riders in the class, who include general cycling enthusiasts, triathletes, bicycle racers, or simply “somebody who just wants to get really, really fit.” Coaches make the rounds during classes to offer tips on riding posture, music plays, and a projection system provides constant footage of bike races.
“It’s very motivational,” says Ewing. “We push you, challenge you, and make sure you achieve your goals. There really is no faking.” Even if a rider puts in minimal effort throughout the course, “If you are assessed coming in at 180 watts, you’ll leave at 200-250 watts,” he says.
As for bicycle sales and repair, that part of Cycle U will be up to speed in mid-November. The store’s primary bike line will be Specialized – Loetel was placing an order with them while we were there – and Undem eventually plans to stock demo bikes for students to try out in class.
Ewing and Loetel are enthusiastic about the new location as much for the actual street address as for the physical space. They point out the cyclists riding by, heading home from a commute via the bike lanes below the West Seattle Bridge. They’re excited to be serving riders in the community where both Ewing and Loetel live.
“People don’t have a lot of time to go out on a three-hour ride after work or in the dark or in the rain – especially in winter in Seattle,” Ewing says. He welcomes riders who want to improve “no matter how old you are or what your goals are. We’ve had students as young as 18 and as old as 71.”
So if you want in on that Saturday InCycle class, he wants you to know: registration is still open at cycleu.com.