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Alan Fine, the founder of Turin Bicycles in Denver, fell in love with European lightweight bikes early on. “My friends and I explored the world on our bikes,” Fine says. “There’s a moment when you get out there, on a good quality bike, where the bike disappears, and it’s just you flying through the air.” So getting a job at Chicago’s Turin Bicycles, one of the first in the U.S. to import high-end bike parts from European vendors in the 1960s, was a no-brainer for the 22-year-old bike lover.
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At Fine’s suggestion, Turin expanded to Denver in 1971, bringing the then-humble cow-town something its small-but-devoted group of serious road cyclists needed: access to imported upper-end bikes and bike gear. Parts weren’t the only import, though. Even though the city’s oldest bike shop just closed its doors after 51 years in business, Turin ignited a lively culture of road cycling that is still popular in Colorado today.
From the beginning, Turin captured something in Colorado. It didn’t take long for cyclists from across the West to flock to Turin’s first location at 711 Grant Street. “We started to pull away from the pack and weren’t just that neighborhood bike store anymore,” Fine recalls. “We were getting customers from everywhere because you couldn’t get the products we had.”
Turin Bicycles eventually purchased its own single-story building on Lincoln Street in 1991, where the shop would spend the rest of its days. Turin’s longtime involvement with the cycling community—“We sponsored a lot of clubs and charity races over the years,” Fine says—attracted both loyal customers and loyal employees. Mike Stejskal, a manager at Turin Bicycles, was hired in 2000. “Half my life has been spent in this shop,” he says.
But as other cycling retailers came to town and the internet loomed large, Turin’s competitive advantage faded. Then, in 2020, the pandemic and the resulting supply chain challenges arrived. It started taking twice as long—and could cost twice as much—to get bike parts manufactured in Europe and Asia to the shelves, and the shop simply wasn’t able to get its customers what they needed in time. “The pandemic created what we felt was becoming inevitable for a while,” Stejskal says.
Fine, Stejskal, and long-time manager Dave Wileden decided in early March to close the shop. On the store’s final day, April 2, people from across the city came to purchase bike products with greatly reduced prices.
David Wrap, a cyclist for Radio Free Denver Cycling Club, perused the store on its final day. “I have been coming to Turin for 25 years,” he says. “It’s an institution, and the closure is going to leave a void in the community.” (San Francisco-based apartment developer Camel Partners purchased Turin Bicycle’s Capitol Hill real estate, and plans on developing an 18-story apartment building in place of the historic bike shop.)
Fine hopes that his bike shop is remembered as an asset to the community and for providing worthwhile service. “I am happy for what I have done, and I am proud of what I’ve done,” Fine says. “I’m also ready not to have the responsibility of it anymore.” He’s looking forward to spending retirement with his wife, Deb, at their home in East Denver. Although he isn’t biking as much anymore, Fine still reads industry magazines to get the latest news.
Stejskal and Wielden have decided to halt their plan to reopen a bike shop for the next few months, though the pair still intend on opening a service-oriented bike shop in the city. “This experience has certainly made me stronger,” Stejskal says. “I am going to take some time off and actually ride my bike instead of thinking about it in the middle of the night.”