Local Bicycling Advocate Robbie Young Takes Ownership of Coulee Bicycle Co.

Turning a Passion into a Career


Lee Neves, photos by Lee Neves

L to R: Danny Johnson, Robbie Young.
L to R: Danny Johnson, Robbie Young.

Coulee Bicycle Co. in Onalaska, Wis., formerly Blue Heron Bicycle Works, was founded by Kevin Miller who has passed the torch to Robbie Young. Young is well-known in the regional bicycling community for his contributions to an array of organizations such as Outdoor Recreation Alliance, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Beer By Bike Brigade, and his work on local cycling races such as the La Crosse Omnium, and the Hixon Forest Epic hosted by City of La Crosse Parks, Recreation & Forestry. Young even co-hosted a bicycle-themed art show, Pedal Ink.

For Young, taking on this business venture is an expansion of his life’s work. He says, “The store is a way for me to legitimize the advocacy I’ve been doing, and that I’m not just some dude who rides bike. It’s all about growing the bike industry and getting more people on bikes – which has been my personal goal for 10 years now.” Young says his goals include “improving the ways people recreate by creating more and better trails and more and safer bicycle commuting options.”

Young is bringing back a fleet of Specialized Bikes-branded bicycles and plans to have rentals in the shop which will be open year-round. New cycling accessories will be available, and the shop will continue offering repair services.

Young recruited previous Coulee Bicycle Co. mechanic Danny Johnson to move back from Minneapolis, Minn. to lead the repair department. Johnson stated he is eager to take on the position in support of the new business venture and to foster his reverence of the bicycling world. Johnson is a guy who built a bike from raw materials under the guidance of locals Cameron Reider of La Crescent, and Paul Reardon of Blue Steel Bikes, though Johnson claims his confidence in bike-building was instilled while working with Miller.

He cites that building bikes is rewarding since “it’s very sensory-oriented” and “is a creation of functioning sculpture”. Johnson is also a guy that says, “The best way to vacation is by touring on a bike.” He started out with local trips from La Crosse to Madison, then La Crosse to St. Paul, and more recently, cycled from Portland, Ore. to Seattle, Wash. He feels his bike-building know-how and extensive cycling experience will lend to helping others become acquainted with cycling. One of Johnson’s goals is to be available to answer questions and “break down barriers” for people who might be getting started cycling or want to get their families on bicycles safely or want to know where to ride. The shop will provide a source for people to come for answers.

The cityscape surrounding Coulee Bicycle Co. has been highly enhanced over the last year and continues to get better. A well-designed pedestrian and bicycle friendly road re-construction project finished in 2017, which now provides updated bicycle lanes and crosswalks at the Main Street and Highway 35 intersection near the shop. The newly-built Great River Landing trailhead overlooks the Great River State Trail, the Black River, and Lake Onalaska. The facility features many amenities including a fireplace, WiFi, bench swings, oversized acoustic yard instruments, restrooms, and vehicle parking. Trail access is directly connected with State Trail passes sold at Coulee Bicycle Co.

In addition to an existing wine shop, restaurant, and barbershop, construction is nearly finished at a new restaurant, David Reay’s Modern Diner + Tavern. The restaurant building and surrounding land, including the newly-built Dash-Park are part of a project of philanthropy of Dave Skogen of Festival Foods. The restaurant will be owned by Matt Boshcka, co-owner of the two Burger Fusion Co. restaurants and Dublin Square Irish Pub & Eatery in La Crosse, and the Valley High Golf Club near Houston, Minn. David Reay’s is set to open in February 2018.

With the recently added features, locals and tourists, avid cyclists and new-to-cycling families will have a hub for fun with a knowledgeable and reliable bicycling resource right on Main Street in Onalaska, at Coulee Bicycle Co.

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Beer By Bike Brigade Chili Slam

Coulee Bicycle Co. will kick off activities even before opening their doors by featuring their “Chainring Tattoo” chili to help raise funds for the La Crosse Area Mountain Bike Race Team at the 4th Annual Beer By Bike Brigade Chili Slam at the La Crosse Center Ballroom this Saturday, January 13th.

Chili Slam Event Info: Click Here

Chili Slam Full Article: Click Here

Store Opening

March 1st, 2018

Coulee Bicycle Co. 213 Main St., Onalaska, Wis.

Web: coulee.bike

Facebook: couleebike