• Tue July 17 2007
  • Posted Jul 17, 2007
Better bikes have cyclists traveling for a bite to eat By Kathryn Fiegen Iowa City Press-Citizen When Iowa City resident Kevin Hochstedler is out on the weekends hitting the pavement with his road bike, the 60- to 100-mile round trips usually are punctuated by one thing. Good food. "When you bike hard, you eat hard," he said. "You literally inhale food." Hochstedler, 48, said he and a few friends try to get out every weekend for a long ride around the neighboring communities. Breakfast in Williamsburg. Lunch in North Liberty. Dinner at Sutliff Bridge. "When you ride 20 to 30 miles, you gotta eat to ride back," he said. Businesses are reaping the gains of being popular bike stops. Whether they are right next to designated trails or just on favorite routes, they are seeing a rise in business from two-wheeled passengers. Hochstedler said he and his friends go to Slim's Saloon, 301 Main St. in Tiffin, every Wednesday just for fun. Leah Haldy, Slim's manager, said that when she started working there a year ago, bike business already was ingrained in the establishment. "We're off the beaten path, and (bicyclists) like that," she said. Haldy said biker's requests usually are simple. "Usually when they stop, they just want a cold beer and a friendly face," she said. Also, Slim's can cater to large groups on short notice, something else bikers occasionally need when they are out for a "party" ride. "We are more than willing to do that for them, and they are great people," she said. "They bring us a lot of business." Bikes and economic development have become so synonymous that the Iowa Department of Transportation has published a handbook called, "Implementing Trail-Based Economic Development Programs: A Handbook for Iowa Communities,"to help towns develop their economies with the help of new and existing trails. Although bikes alone can't keep a business open, the handbook said the effect of the added business cannot be ignored. Hochstedler said better quality bikes likely are one reason that some businesses are seeing more bicyclists. "(With) the quality of bikes these days, it's easy to go 70 to 100 miles," he said. Twenty miles outside Iowa City, Sutliff Bridge has become a popular stop for bicyclists. Randy Howell, owner of Sutliff Bar & Grill, 5546 130th St. N.E. in Lisbon, said his business gets a fair amount of bicyclists from the Iowa City area, Solon, West Branch and Mount Vernon. "I think it's a nice ride for them," he said. "A lot of them, when they stop in, they want their water bottles filled." But because the location is quite a few miles from a neighboring town, bikers often need to refuel before heading back in, Howell said. "I think more than anything, we have ice cold beer, and they just want to sit out on the bridge and maybe get something to eat," he said. Bikers who are out to Sutliff more for fun than recreation generally spend more, he said, on beer and food. "Yeah, they're good customers; we enjoy seeing them out here," he said.

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