Bicycles, sports gear and a cup of joe

March 5, 2014

By Josh Hafemeister

It’s not exactly new to Whitewater, but many people may not think of BicycleWise as a place to go for their morning coffee.

In addition to offering services for bicyclists and their bicycles, the shop sells coffee and sports equipment.

“A lot of bicycle people love coffee,” owner Liz Sotherland said. “Cycling people, they’re real coffee people, too.”

Sotherland said it is a trend for bicycle shops to have coffee shops attached. She said coffee has a lot of good qualities for athletes, including antioxidants.

BicycleWise & Sports Fitness opened April 28, 2001 across the street from its current location. John and Liz Sotherland planned to open a coffee bar, but the building did not afford the space they needed.

When the building at 1155 W. Main St. became available, they took the opportunity and moved BicycleWise & Sports Fitness across the street. Their new location opened Feb. 5, 2013. The coffee John and Liz Sotherland now serve, Colectivo Coffee, is made in Milwaukee.

BicycleWise & Sports Fitness offers patrons custom bicycles, outdoor equipment and a variety of coffee.

Liz said John Sotherland have been in the bicycle manufacturing business since 1987. In that time, John Sotherland has crafted more than 5,000 bikes.

“Having a good mechanic is critical to having a good bike shop,” Liz Sotherland said. “There’s so much you have to know about bicycles to be successful as a retailer.”

BicycleWise & Sports Fitness sells bikes of all kinds: mountain bikes, urban/commuter bikes, fitness bikes and bikes for kids. Their services include bicycle repairs and tune ups, accessory installation and free tire inflation, as well as snow shoe sales and rentals, ice skate sharpening and ski preparation to name a few.

John Sotherland said a rider’s speed or distance are not the most important parts of bicycling. Their goal is to facilitate the positive bike experience.

“Did you have fun, or didn’t you?” John Sotherland said. Other questions they keep in mind include: Was the ride comfortable? Will the rider look forward to his or her next trek on the bike?

“We try to help people have cycling be fun, not work,” John Sotherland said. “It should be fun. It should be play. Not like going to the dentist and getting a root canal.”

For the winter months, BicycleWise & Sports Fitness offers new or used snow shoes and ice skates to rent or buy. Base clothing, or “High tech long johns” as Liz Sotherland named it, also is available for outdoor winter activities.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather,” she said. “Just bad clothing.”

John and Liz Sotherland plan several events throughout the year, including “demo days” where they bring their bikes to the Kettle Moraine trail and allow people to test drive bicycles for free. All people need is their driver’s license.

During the winter months, John and Liz Sotherland take people out for snowshoe hikes on Fridays at 3:30 p.m at Natureland Park, 8338 Territorial Road.

John and Liz Sotherland said the reason they chose Whitewater to open their business in 2001 was because of its location. Whitewater has several trails and many paved roads for bicyclists to use.

“We wish we could get more of the college students to understand how much money and how much time they could save by riding a bike,” John Sotherland said.

The building had previously been a coffee shop, so it already had a setup that suited John and Liz Sotherland’s needs. John Sotherland said they are looking for a barista — a person who prepares coffee for customers — to make coffee for customers while he and Liz work on bicycles.

A portion of the store is a greenhouse. Even during the winter, John Sotherland said the greenhouse can reach temperatures of 80 degrees. With the air circulation system the shop has, the entire building can be heated, thanks to the sun.

For more information on events or bicycles, contact John and Liz Sotherland at 262-473-4730 or [email protected]

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