After winning scholarships in national high school auto repair contests, Nicholas Moroder was speeding toward a career in the car business.
He took a detour, after he found he hated working on other people's cars.
"The best you could tell them is your car is only a little broken; people are always upset," he explained.
Moroder found a happier application of his mechanical skills – for him and his customers – by fixing bicycles. And the discovery led to the start of the BelgianWerkx bicycle studio and gallery in Mequon, set to open on Jan. 14.
The 28-year-old is excited to be taking a gamble on his passion.
"I've been working long days, but it doesn't feel like it because I'm doing something I love," said Moroder, a Grafton High School grad.
"I'm a little nervous, focusing on higher-end clientele in this economy, but I think people are being smarter with their dollars and want quality," he said. "We wouldn't be opening if we didn't think it was a good idea."
BelgianWerkx will open with four brands of road and cyclocross bikes: Cannondale, Focus, Ridley and Seven.
More than volumes of product, the store will build on service and customized fitting. One of only three shops in the state to offer the Retul Bike Fit system, BelgianWerkx devotes nearly half its 1,500 square feet to the fit studio, and Moroder traveled to the company headquarters in Boulder, Colo., to become certified on the 3D motion capture equipment.
Sensors measure body parts and angles off nine LED lights attached to the customer, capturing a rider in motion to pinpoint the proper bike size, down to the millimeter. A proper fit will improve performance and prevent injury.
"It doesn't matter if your bike cost $6,000, if it doesn't fit you, it's worthless," Moroder said.
Bill Koehler, a 50-year-old masters road racer, believes in the importance of a properly sized bike, and Moroder. The owner of Wisconsin Discount Securities invested the capital to start BelgianWerkx.
"I'm not going to say it's a good investment," he said. "It's more about the passion than the money. I've always wanted to be involved in a bike shop.
"Nick running the business was the key. He has an amazing bike mind. He's a bike savant."
The business partners met when Moroder worked as manager of Local Motion Outfitters in Cedarburg. Koehler raced his bikes. Moroder fixed them.
They shared a vision for the bike shop they wanted.
"I would like to serve the cycling enthusiast, not just the racing community, but the fitness enthusiast, and offer personalized service that you don't get in bigger shops," Koehler said. "It's more of a personalized service and custom bike studio feel, but without the custom bike studio prices."
Koehler organized the criterium race in Cedarburg that was part of the International Cycling Classic and plans to make the shop a part of the local race community by sponsoring the Giro 'd Grafton and a masters cyclocross team. He envisions BelgianWerkx as a gathering place for cyclists, with coffee, art work and DVDs of the great races and racers, including Eddy Merckx, the Belgian champion and four time Tour de France winner who served as the inspiration for the shop name.
Grand Opening: BelgianWerkx will be giving away bike gear prizes as part of its grand opening. To enter, go to their web site and punch in Retul in the prize code box.
Memories of running cross-country for the Slinger Owls motivated Tom Held to get his body moving again when he turned 30. Almost two decades later, he's still on the move. The 49-year-old bikes, runs and skis, and covers news for similarly active people as a freelance writer and blogger.
He spent 26 years as a daily news reporter, and applies that experience to dig out stories about athletes, races, endurance sports, fitness and self-propelled transportation. His work has appeared in Silent Sports Magazine, Wisconsin Trails and Cross-Country Skier.
Held lives in the Bay View neighborhood, where he counts being Dad to twin daughters part of his daily workout.