Following a reader’s lead to highlight bike shops that are the lifeblood of our collective cycling community, I rang up Benidorm Bikes to find out more about the shop and add them to our list of “Brick & Mortar” shop stories. Lo and behold, after first speaking to co-owner Doug Tanner, I discovered that his partner in the shop was his wife, Jan Bolland. Jan is a former road world champion whom I’ve known since her days as a member of the Evian women’s mountain bike team. Not only was Jan a legitimate “rainbow rider,” she was also a former cyclocross national champion as well.
THE BENIDORM WAY
Where is the shop located?
We are located in Canton, Connecticut, about 15 miles west of Hartford on Route 44, which is the only west-to-east road in the state. It’s a gorgeous area with beautiful rolling hills all around with easy access to New York City and Boston, as well as beaches and lakes.
How did the shop first get started?
The shop was previously owned by another couple for nearly nine years under the name of Summit Mountain Bike. Summit began as a mountain bike rental business and evolved into a retail business owned by some friends of ours.
In February of 1998, a couple years after Doug and I moved from Colorado back to New Hampshire, the transition from Summit Mountain Bike to Benidorm Bikes took place as we purchased their business. Our original plan was to have gone to Williston, Vermont, to start a new business, but after working through a thorough business plan and checking in with our friends, the opportunity to take over the Summit shop seemed too good to pass up.
What about the name. Where did that come from?
The inspiration for the shop’s name comes from the name of the city in Spain, where my U.S. national team teammates Bunki Bankaitis Davis, Jeanne Golay, Eve Stephenson and I won the women’s 1992 50K Team Time-Trial World Championships. The name carries forward the dedication to helping people get the most from their cycling. There is a lot of history, stories and miles of riding within Benidorm Bikes, inclusive of road, cyclocross and mountain bike racing.
What bike lines are sold, and what is the percentage of road versus mountain bike sales?
We sell Trek, Specialized, Kona, Santa Cruz, Parlee, Seven, Independent Fab and Cannondale. The percentage of sold “bike types” varies from year to year. Historically, we sell more mountain bikes, as that type of bike satisfies a broader spectrum of family riding. Road bike sales are strong and continue to evolve with the ever-growing interests of gravel/dirt road riding.
How many employees and how big is the shop?
Besides Doug and myself, we have three full-time and three part-time employees. We are always seeking another full-time mechanic (anyone out there?). The retail area of the shop is roughly 2600 square feet, with service areas adding another 800 square feet.
Is there anything about the shop that is unique or well known for?
Unique? How many shops actually have an earned World Championship jersey on display and can embrace and share the experiences of elite and professional racing careers? While having those accomplishments, customers receive genuine and knowledgeable guidance because the most important thing is helping people get the most from their cycling. We realize that we are sharing a livelihood, that we have chosen, and we want every employee, every customer and every community member to know our dedication to them.
As far as a unique quality, we are proud of our bike-fit services. Every person matters, and every person’s goals are different. We like to think out of the box to provide solutions to address individual goals. I have a background with Serotta bike fit, Body Geometry, Slowtwitch and Retul, and those certifications allow for in-depth considerations for each customer, whether on an existing bike, new bike or a custom-designed bike.
Jan, what was the transition like from being a racer to bike-shop owner like?
From racing on the road to cyclocross racer to mountain bike racer, I realize how fortunate I have been to have had the racing career and successes that I did. I am just as fortunate to have had the friendships, the worldly travels, the business relationships and my own determination to round out an incredible time of life! The transition from racer to bike shop owner has never been an obstacle. Instead, the transition has been an extension from doing something that I loved, with someone I love, to providing the best experience for all customers, every day!
The commitment and work ethic remain the same, but now the focus is on others instead of myself. I have always believed that, as a female, we have so many possibilities; as an athlete, mom, spouse, professional career, etc., as well as a biological clock to work within. The greatest challenge is feeling the constraints of time, but I will continue to do as much as I can.
What should everyone know about the role bike shops play?
Bike shops can build community. We fit a need and can introduce people to riding, provide products to contribute to an informed and excellent cycling experience, provide reliable mechanical services to keep them riding, and perform bike-fit services to maximize performance and comfort, and help in the prevention of injury.
Ultimately, a bike shop can make a difference in wellness, transportation and the environment. Support your local bike shop, trust their guidance and go ride a bike!