Shop owners are RIDING HIGH
On Your Mark Performance Center grows as it fits riders to bikes
Matt Goforth owns On Your Mark Performance Center in Lake Park with wife Julie. Both are competitive runners and bicyclists.
JAN NORRIS / /FLORIDA WEEKLY Matt Goforth couldn’t have predicted how well his name would fit his business. The Palm Beach Gardens native, who owns On Your Mark Performance Center in Lake Park, races mountain bikes, runs marathons and will soon enter his first full Ironman competition.
It all started with how he sat on his bike.
“I had been racing mountain bikes in Florida — yes, we have mountain biking here. There are events in Gainesville, Tallahassee, Miami, Jacksonville. A group called Gone Riding puts them on, and I was racing for the state championships,” he said.
“Through that, I discovered a need for bike fitting. A bike is like a suit. You buy a suit off the rack, then have it tailored to fit your body. A bike has to fit you right, too, to get the most out of it.”
Matt and Julie Goforth help fix the brakes on a rental bike for a visitor.
JAN NORRIS / FLORIDA WEEKLY He decided to learn the technique and offer it to area bike shop owners. After a bike-fitting boot camp in Boise, Idaho, he returned gung-ho to offer his expertise to local shops. “They didn’t go for it — they wanted to do everything themselves.”
He took his passion for cycling and newfound knowledge of bike-fitting and opened a bike shop of his own in Palm Beach Gardens near the turnpike. Two years ago, when rent hikes forced him out, he moved to his present location on U.S. 1.
Today, bikes aren’t the only thing Mr. Goforth, 35, and his wife and business partner, Julie, do. “We call it a performance center — we help with all athletes, but our focus is on the bike part of it,” he said.
Bikes for adults and kids, shoes, athletic clothing, helmets and other gear are sold at the store, and they repair bikes as well.
He fits at least five bikes a week — sometimes twice that — whether the rider or bike is from his shop or not. Fitting a bike means adjusting the seat and handlebars and pedals to the rider’s posture.
“It makes all the difference. We offer a lifetime fitting with every bike we sell, because the fit changes as your body changes — you need to have it refitted if you have a pain in your shoulder or knee or lower back — something may have changed.” The goal, he said, is to get people comfortable so they can ride more often and farther — all while enjoying their bike.
He starts by asking a series of questions of those who are first-time recent bike buyers. “It all starts with getting the right bike. A lot of people come in and want a Lance Armstrong (hightech road) bike,” he said.
It’s a misconception that bike shops only sell high-end racing bikes, he said. The romance of bike races hits hard, especially during the Tour de France in July.
“I try to help them understand they don’t need a $4,000 bike. Most of what we sell are in the $450 to $600 range.”
The high-tech road bikes can cost in the thousands. Who really needs that type of bike?
“I don’t — and I own the shop. And I race. Let’s face it — most riders are not in the Tour de France category.”
Buying a bike isn’t like the old days when the choices were a 12-speed or a cruiser. “We still sell cruisers, but they’re really a hard bike to ride,” he said. “They’re single-speed — great if you want to build up your leg muscles.”
Without mountains, why would anyone need a bike with more than one gear?
“Wind.” He pointed out that while Central and North Florida aren’t flat, down here, the wind is an issue. “You only really use seven gears out of the 20 or so that are on most bikes, so we recommend a bike with at least seven gears.” Potential cyclists list their lifestyles, the time they have for riding and location they’re in. He also asks whether they’re willing to load the bike for distance riding — and their clothing preferences.
“We ask if they’re willing to wear tight clothes. That’s no joke — it’s important. The cycling pants have padding in all the right places, keep you dry and don’t chafe. It’s all about being comfortable while you ride.”
Seats, known as saddles in the business, are the other big component. “Women need wider saddles; men typically need a narrower one. Riders who lean forward need a narrower saddle; those who sit upright can go with a wider one.
“We let them test them first — we have a whole bucketful of saddles to show them the differences and find the one that fits them. If your butt hurts, you’re probably on the wrong saddle — and you won’t like your bike.”
Many riders today are going with a hybrid — a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike — with upright posture possible and bigger tires for a smoother ride. “They’re great for touring, but so are mountain bikes. I’ve seen lots of guys — and gals — come in with mountain bikes fitted with racks and panniers. They ride them from Maine to Key West.”
His rides are shorter as he and Julie prepare for their first Ironman competition in Clermont in July. The strenuous contest features a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. “I’ve done a half Ironman, but I’ve been training for the full one for a while. I think I’ll do OK.”
He trains by running the 2 miles to Riviera Beach’s shore, swimming for 20 minutes, and running back to the shop every Monday night and Thursday morning. A few other Ironman hopefuls have joined him in a group he calls the Aquadoo. He rides almost daily.
“Right now, we’re running up to the North Palm Beach pool at the country club instead,” he said. “The beach is a little chilly.” For amateurs and social riders, OYM sponsors a shop ride every Thursday afternoon — anyone is welcome.
“It’s a recruit ride. We like people to come and check it out. It’s a fairly easy ride from the shop over the Blue Heron bridge to Singer Island, through the neighborhoods and then up to PGA. From there, we go up Prosperity Farms Road to Donald Ross Road, over that bridge, then come home Ellison Wilson to PGA and back to the shop.”
Cyclists can then join the OYM club, or become a member of the more raceoriented riders at Team OYM.
Many of the rides are built around themes. “They’re for everybody — we like to encourage families to get involved,” Julie Goforth said.
The annual “Salsa de Mayo” ride coincides with Cinco de Mayo and has grown as cyclists hear of it.
Riders return to the shop after the ride for a salsa and chips cook-off, a potluck meal and drinks, live music and maybe a Hula-Hoop contest or other activities. “They’re a lot of fun and we do it because we like food and an adult beverage once in a while, too,” Mr. Goforth said.
Riders must wear helmets and have lights on their bikes. “And obey the rules of the road.” Florida recognizes cyclists as road vehicles, and the same traffic laws apply to them as to drivers. “It’s all about being safe and having a good time.” ¦
in the know
>>What: On Your Mark Performance Center, 819 U.S. 1, Lake Park >>Phone: 842-2453 >>On the Web: oymbike.com >>About: The shop offers safe cycling lessons, as well as basic instructions in bike maintenance. Discounts are available to club and team members — there’s a cost to join. Discounts also are given to police and firefighter-medics.