Biking to a New Balance

Oct 1, 2018 | Turning Point

If you are going to experience a Turning Point while riding a bicycle, you had best try to keep your balance. It was touch and go, however, when Allyson Herdelin’s cycling buddy jokingly suggested that she join him in running his cycling shop. But after wobbling for a bit, Allyson regained her balance and made an unusual career switch.

She tells the story:

“Michael (Carroll) and I had been friends and fellow cyclists for years. He already owned Old Bikes Belong and was looking to expand the business but was so busy with sales and repair work that he didn’t have time for marketing or hosting events. That’s where I come in.”

With a nursing degree from Bellarmine University and a master’s in public health from the University of Louisville, this was not as strange a career switch for this 27-year-old as it might seem.

“I had long been into sports and physical fitness. I played soccer starting at  4 years old and was on the soccer team at Bellarmine. I loved cycling and found it to be a good form of exercise after I burned out on running. I also wanted to get people involved with it for their own health and fitness. That helped me make the decision to leave my 9 to 5 job that I really felt no passion for. I am passionate about cycling.”

So after composing many lists comparing the pros and cons of taking such a risk, in January 2018 Allyson become co-owner of the newly named Grit Cycling, 2020 S. Preston St. in the Germantown area.

“After a while, there were only so many lists I could make. At some point I just had to decide. I thought that even if the change didn’t work out, at least I would know I tried.

“I had no retail experience but discovered that I love sales. I didn’t know that about myself. I enjoy talking with the customers about something I am passionate about, and it is rewarding to get someone on a bike.”

The shop sells new and used road, mountain, and triathlon bikes along with accessories and apparel. She and Michael have a good match of skills, she says. He does most of the mechanical repairs and bike building while Allyson handles marketing, sales, and events.

“Women have told me they are interested in getting started in cycling but are intimidated by ‘the men and the spandex.’ We started having a women-only ride that leaves from the shop on Thursdays at 6pm. This way they can ride at their own pace and get used to being on the road.

“In a group you can develop your skills and learn from the other cyclists. Every group is different. It’s not a one-size-fits-all. There are different levels of skills. Not everything is about races. There is a group for you.”

The shop also holds an open-to-everyone ride on Thursdays and Ironman training rides in July, August, and September.

If you are interested in starting with cycling, Allyson offers a few suggestions:

  1. Be willing to try it. Realize you won’t feel comfortable right away.
  2. Be patient. You are not going to be a great cyclist overnight. Just like anything, the key is to set realistic goals for yourself to see success.
  3. Don’t be afraid to push yourself. Join a group and it will help you become faster (if that’s what you want) and help build your skills. 

And remember, as in life, when cycling it is best to stay balanced.