Sunny Day News
If you ride a bicycle regularly in the Lake Mary, Fla., area, there's a good chance you know about Out-Spoken Bike Shop. After all, this family-run business has kept riders rolling safely in Seminole County for 17 years.
Out-Spoken's customers know that shop owners Michael and Arden Cottle provide personalized, top-notch service to cyclists and bikes of all types, whether they are road bikes, mountain, BMX, time trial or simply “family bikes” for riding on paved trails. Whatever the need – mechanical, equipment, riding gear, bike fit or nutrition – Out-Spoken has it covered.
Out-Spoken’s commitment to its cycling community was recognized when the shop was honored by the League of American Bicyclists’ 2014 annual ratings. Out-Spoken earned a Silver Level rating as a “Bicycle Friendly Business,” one of only seven Florida businesses to crack the League’s rankings. The Cottle’s shop was the only Florida business honored on the Silver tier.
“Any time I’ve ever needed something, Michael has always been there, and he doesn’t hesitate to help. I appreciate that whenever I bring my bike in, he’ll look at it right away and do whatever needs to be done to get me back on the road again,” said Bob Ceo of Longwood, Fla., a longtime road cyclist and Out-Spoken customer for 12 years. “They are very trustworthy, and I like dealing with them.”
That kind of loyalty makes customers feel like family, which is fitting because that’s precisely the type of business Out-Spoken strives to be – family centered. “I like to say that we’re still a family store,” Michael Cottle said.
Michael and Arden are the smiling faces most likely to greet you when you walk in the door. But it’s a good bet that most customers have also had their bikes repaired by their sons Austin and Michael. Even the family dog, Rufus, works the shop floor, greeting customers.
Cottle said seeing families grow through cycling is one of the best parts of the business. “Probably the most rewarding thing, personally, has been watching the kids come up through it. Watching it from their first bike, to their first mountain bike, to (where) they are buying bikes for their kids,” he said.
Getting youngsters active in cycling is important to Cottle: “To put into a young person’s mind that there is something other than (being) inside or video or electronic media that they can do, that is fun, I think is very rewarding.”
Cottle is constantly on the move. When he is not at the shop, he might be conducting private training for triathletes in swimming, cycling or running. During their “free time,” Michael and Arden are likely supporting local cycling or running events. The Cottles were the force responsible for last summer’s Sylvan Lake Park Triathlon Series, which was the first sanctioned USA Triathlon series in Seminole County history. Michael Cottle was the race director for the four sprint-triathlon races that averaged more than 100 competitors each.
Cottle’s personal coaching is by appointment. It caters to a broad spectrum of clients. One day he might prepare a high-level triathlete for a challenging race day while another day might focus on a weight-loss client. “One of my weight-loss clients has lost 85 pounds,” Cottle said. “I have another client who has lost a substantial amount of weight who just qualified for worlds in duathlon. … When he started, he couldn’t run an 11-minute mile. Now, he’s running high sevens, low eights. It’s just persistence and having the right frame of mind.”
Cottle's frame of mind is one of gratitude. He said it's terrific to touch the lives of so many area cyclists. “Seeing people grow in it, that's the most rewarding thing. ... If I go over to a Saturday (group) ride here, probably a good third of them, maybe more than that, have gotten their start somewhere close to us.”
To keep local cyclists happy, the Cottles will continue to treat Out-Spoken customers like family. It’s been a great ride so far, with many miles to come.