A local cycling nonprofit is looking to pedal its way to a new source of funds by spinning off a for-profit venture in Scott’s Addition.
Richmond Cycling Corps, a nonprofit organization that takes underprivileged youth on cycling trips, will open a bike studio next week offering cycling classes and selling bikes.
Craig Dodson, founder of Richmond Cycling Corps, said the new operation was fueled by a need to serve the cycling community while still funding his mentoring program for the nonprofit.
“We wanted to expand our budget to have the ability to reach more kids,” said Dodson.
The organization travels to Fairfield Court, a public housing community in the area, and provides bikes to kids and takes them on cycling trips around Richmond.
The new studio will offer six cycling classes a week taught by Dodson and an appointment-based service for people to purchase bikes. It will also have a workshop for bike repairs.
“Our concept is to set up appointments for people to talk about what they want in a bike or a pair of shoes or handle bars,” Dodson said.
About 40 percent of the nonprofit’s funds come from support from Bon Secours and Ground Force, an information technology firm. The rest are from fundraisers and individual donations.
Most of RCC’s funds are for purchasing new bikes and repairing old ones for the kids to use, and Dodson said the nonprofit side was running out of resources.
“We were spending $500 a month just to maintain,” he said.
The organization operates out of a new 3,300-square-foot warehouse on Summit Avenue, a property formerly owned by imprisoned local developer Justin French.
French donated use of the space to RCC in February 2010.
Dodson began using the space last August to try out cycling classes as another means of funding the nonprofit.
He taught four classes a week and had about 20 people paying $100 a month for the classes. He also offered bike “fits,” a consulting service, for $150 and had more than 50 people sign up.
“Between those two things, we were able to generate revenue for the nonprofit,” he said.
The classes ended in March, and cyclists who frequented the classes urged Dodson to keep offering the classes.
The only problem: The warehouse was foreclosed on in May.
About that time, Scott Coleman, a Richmond developer and friend of Dodson’s, suggested he buy the building.
“He wanted to make sure RCC still had a home,” Dodson said.
Dodson bought the building in July after battling it out in a foreclosure auction a few months earlier and co-owns it with Coleman.
An avid cyclist, Dodson originally started RCC as Richmond Pro Cycling in 2008, coaching competitive cyclists. (You can read a Q&A with Dodson here).
The new studio will sell bikes from such national suppliers as Museeuw, Ibis and KHS. Bikes can range from $200 to $10,000, Dodson said, adding that he’s already sold four bikes.
All of the revenue from the new classes will go to fund the nonprofit.
Renovations to the studio, including a $4,000 upgrade for 25 stationary bike trainers, have been underway for the past few months. Dodson plans to start registration for classes Sept. 16.