Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 10.09.2014

October 9, 2014

Today: Meet the Exchange Students (V. Dilley)

Birthdays: Kyle Nordine (10/7) and Nate Heilman (10/10).

Next Week: Wokie Daboh, Project Blackboard (Maus)

Last Week:

Tom Bisel isn’t selling bikes; he’s selling fitness with a side of social connection.

The owner of Fit To Be Tried, a bike shop in downtown Northfield, is a bicycle evangelist. He believes in the power of pedaling. He recommends cycling for anyone age four to age 80, and he recommends you do it with someone else. There’s nothing like a shared sense of adventure and freedom, he said.

“I want you to get on a bike and have fun,” he said. “It’s not about keeping up with someone; it’s about riding together.”

Tom thinks social biking is the perfect medium for men, who, he observed, have limited tolerance for social interaction unless coupled with a side-by-side activity.

Tom followed a circuitous path to bike shop ownership. He went to the School of Engineering at the University of Minnesota, then a tech school for an associate degree in golf course grounds management and then worked in construction. In October of 2009, after researching the market, he opened his bike shop in Northfield.

Seventy-five percent of his business comes from recreational riders, and he likes it this way. Community engagement is a foundational principle of his business philosophy. He is the rallying point for a local bike club, which now numbers more than 100. Only five of those are hard-core bike racers, he said.

Going forward, he predicts weekend recreational riders, those who drive to town, grab their coffee and then strike off on a bike trail, will constitute the largest segment of his customer base.

Tom is currently working with a college class to review his branding and position in the marketplace. He is considering sponsoring a winter triathlon that would include biking, skiing and running.

Tom is married and has two boys. His wife, Marcia, works at Cannon Valley Veterinary Clinic.


Mini Classification:

There always seemed to be a bike in Lee Dilley’s world. As a young boy, he made his inaugural ride in the driveway of his family’s farm. In high school, he graduated to a three-speed, which he road on country roads to have lunch with his grandmother.

During college in Missoula, Montana, his 10-speed transported him to majestic mountain climes. Even while volunteering in the Peace Corps, he and Vicki motored around a small piece of Polynesian real estate on a two-wheeler.

Back in Northfield, a bike is often his vehicle of choice for the short commute to his work at Malt-O-Meal. Lee fully enjoys the bike culture that has grown up in Northfield and appreciates the spirit that emanates from Tom Bisel’s bike shop.


Mary Auge (Prowe), Bill Ripp (Lawlor), Kim Briske (Hillmann) and Sara Jane and Analise (daughter and granddaughter of Jan Steven).

Scholarship Enhancement: Chris Richardson

First Job: Vicki Dilley almost wore Prada. Working in a high-end fashion store in Billings, Montana wasn’t for her, but driving truck for a canning company was.


— Matt Rich said our hard work on the Defeat of Jesse James Bike Tour was rewarded. We netted $30,000 from the event. Nice work, Rotarians.

— Kurt Larson is looking for corporate sponsors for the Turkey Trot. We are all commissioned to be his agents in the field. Let him know if you have an idea, but not the time to call on someone.

— With Jean Wakely’s recent appointment to the board, Vicky Langer is stepped up to lead the Hospitality Committee. Thank you both for your leadership and service.

— We need many volunteers to help screen prospective outbound exchange students Monday, Oct. 27, 6 to 8:30 p.m. You will either be asked to be part of an interview team or an observer of the interview process. Let Vicki Dilley or Vicky Langer know if you can help.

— Chris Weber announced that our Literacy Committee has donated $1,000 to the 1,000 Books Club to promote it among young families in the community.

Past Northfield Rotary Club meeting videos on Youtube: NorthfieldRotaryVideos

Coming Up:

Oct. 23 — Char Carlson, chair of the Northfield Library Board (B. Carlson)
Oct. 30 — Sam Daly, Sniffing for Bombs in Afghanistan (Fossum)

Nov. 6 — Jonathan Adams, RESTORE Project Director, (V. Dilley)

Nov. 13 — Nick Frohner, Asian Carp, (Anderson)