Leucadia Cyclery rides into retirement on Dec. 15

Leucadia Cyclery rides into retirement on Dec. 15
Leucadia Cyclery, a popular local bike shop on North Vulcan Avenue, will close on Dec. 15 after 28 years in business. The shop specializes in the sale of high-end road bikes as well as bike repair. Photo by Carey Blakely

ENCINITAS — After 28 years in business, Leucadia Cyclery owner Fred Breidenthal said, “It’s time to play. I want to go back to being a beach bum.” He and his wife, Julia, plan to close their shop, located at 823 North Vulcan Ave., on Dec. 15.

Now that all four of their children have graduated from college, the Breidenthals feel that it’s time for a new adventure.

Julia, who grew up in England, wants to see the Grand Canyon and other national parks in the U.S. Since 1990 when they bought the shop, they have only once closed for a week for a vacation in Hawaii last year.

“Part of our retirement plan is to take much longer rides together,” Julia said. “Conveniently, we have a tandem bike that can be collapsed into a suitcase.” Fred would also like to devote more time to kite surfing and motorcycle track riding than the rigors of running a mom-and-pop shop have allowed.

Leucadia Cyclery specializes in the sale of high-end road bikes in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. That and bike repair are the business’s bread and butter. The shop also sells bike parts and accessories, clothes and mountain bikes.

Fred manages the bike repairs and sales, while Julia handles the bookkeeping and administrative tasks. Although he does not rule out the possibility of working again, Fred said, “I won’t do retail because it’s so consuming.”

“Business has been busier than ever,” he continued. “We just had our best Black Friday since opening.” He thinks that people have been hearing about the store closing and are seeking to buy one last bike before it does. “The shop feels empty right now,” he said, looking around at the small retail space. “We’re used to having 100 helmets in stock, and now there are only about 20.”

Owners Fred and Julia Breidenthal look forward to retiring, with plans to travel and take more tandem bike rides together. Photo by Carey Blakely

Before Fred bought Leucadia Cyclery, he worked there in the early 1980s as a bike mechanic. As an avid cyclist, that job seemed like a natural fit for him — more so than the construction work and graphic design studies he pursued prior.

The original bike-store owner sold to a second one, and then Fred found himself, as he put it, “slowly taking over the shop” as customers went straight to him for bike advice.

Since acquiring the business, the best part of running Leucadia Cyclery for Fred has been witnessing the transformation that biking can bring to people’s lives. He watched customers lose more than 100 pounds, for example, and improve their health and vitality by taking up the sport. Some of the Breidenthals’ customers are over 90 years old, although most are in their 50s through 70s.

The shop’s last two part-time employees have worked at Leucadia Cyclery for almost as long as the Breidenthals. One, Bob Barney, just retired, and the other, Pam Jorgensen, will retire on Dec. 15. Fred said Jorgensen had quite the fortuitous start to her employment. “On her first day, biking legend Greg LeMond — her idol — and his entourage walked in.” That moment with the three-time Tour de France winner seemed to bode well for future job satisfaction.

Julia and Fred, who call Cardiff home, feel fortunate that they are willingly selling their business rather than being forced to do so. While they still hope to find a buyer, if one does not materialize, they will keep their website and sell any remaining inventory online.

Currently, Leucadia Cyclery’s going-out-of-business sale includes discounts of 50 percent off most high-end frames, 30 percent off clothing, and 20 to 30 percent off bicycles.

When asked what advice he’d offer a budding cyclist, Fred responded, “Find a good bike shop that will fit you to a bike rather than sell you what’s in stock.”

Like many longtime married couples, Fred and Julia tend to finish each other’s sentences. Julia explained how men and women often bike separately because they are usually “athletically mismatched” and ride at different paces. Riding tandem with her husband, she said, “evens the score.”

“And it forces you to communicate with each other,” Fred added. He noted with a laugh, “Julia is very competitive and doesn’t like people passing us.”

What’s the best part of tandem biking as a couple? For Fred, it’s “togetherness.” Julia signaled her agreement with a smile, which is another way of finishing someone’s sentence.

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