Full Cycle Comes Full Circle

A Boulder Cycling Destination Offers Year-Round Outdoor Sports Expertise with the Addition of Backcountry Skiing to their Repertoire

Article by Tony Firestine

Photography by Stephanie Mikuls

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Renowned as a geographical focal point for outdoor sports, Boulder offers a unique and dynamic environment that caters to an active lifestyle. Those who live and religiously exercise here know that not only is the Front Range known for its picturesque landscape, but also its passionate, vibrant and close-knit sports community.

Since 1982, starting as a co-op in the back of a Pearl Street grocery store, Full Cycle has not only served the active Boulder community but has helped to build and foster the camaraderie that Boulder’s athletic community is known for. From its humble beginnings to the present, Full Cycle has been more than just a business. It's been a place where athleticism, outdoor exploration and a love of outdoor sports converge.

Just as the sports community in Boulder has morphed and grown, Full Cycle has stayed malleable and grown with it. Their location, ownership and concept have all changed over time, but Full Cycle continues to stay true to its vision of being a haven for outdoor sports aficionados and providing excellent customer service. With the original concept downtown on Pearl St focusing on mountain and commuter biking, the business slowly morphed into an institution for all things cycling-related. The move to a bigger space on 30th St in 2020 came with the opportunity to continue to expand its services, including the addition of the Full Cycle Café and Bar, a much-needed third space for athletes to converge over a pre- or post-ride coffee or beer, all within the inspirational atmosphere of a shop with a focus on expertise and innovation. In 2020, Full Cycle merged with Colorado Multisport, one of the country’s premier shops focusing on the needs of triathletes and performance road cyclists.

This past September, Full Cycle made the move to become a year-round multi-sport space with the addition of an impressive array of brands catering to ski touring (also known as uphill skiing, backcountry skiing, skimo, etc.). This was not only a strategic financial move for Full Cycle, now being able to obtain a steadier stream of business when many cyclists store their bikes for the season, but also an opportunity to strengthen the local sports community in a completely different market. “What we’re doing is different than traditional retail,” says Russ Chandler, Full Cycle’s owner/general manager. “It’s called ‘shop-in-shop’. This looks like one big bike shop with skis, but in fact, it’s a bike shop that has six little ski shops in it.” Russ goes on to explain that other than buying products directly from top brands (Dynafit, Scarpa, DPS Skis, Pomoca, Ortovox, Phantom Glide and Hestra Gloves), these companies all lease separate spaces in Full Cycle for the season and maintain their own separate product selection, keeping inventory fresh and new. Brand experts also consistently hold informative events in the space once or twice a month. Dynafit is hosting both a Backcountry Skiing 101 event on January 9 and an introduction for those who want to tackle the Grand Traverse, Colorado’s premier backcountry ski racing event that spans from Crested Butte to Aspen, later in the month. DPS’s head of product will be sharing tips on their advanced products at Full Cycle on January 30. All events are free and start at 6 pm.

With the Full Cycle team moving toward a more interdisciplinary approach to outdoor sports, they continue to leverage their expertise and personal passions to assist all levels of outdoor athletes. Just like many active Boulderites, the sales team changes their focus on their own means of exercise with the seasons. The perspective of getting more people excited about getting outdoors and exercising year-round to fight off the SADs (Seasonal Affective Disorder), when the days get shorter and the nights get longer, is eye-opening. The excitement is evident when discussing the retail changes, but Full Cycle also notes the parallels that each sport has to offer. “I think of backcountry skiing compared to other skiing a little bit like mountain biking compared to road biking,” says Russ. “You’re going in the backcountry in varying levels of steepness, up and down. It generally attracts the type of people who really like to get away from the cities and the madness. It’s that year-round outdoor connection that ultimately helps sustain your mental health.”

“I think it’s also pretty social,” adds Caitlin Standifer, a creative strategist and marketing manager for Full Cycle, “You’re spending 80 to 90% of your time walking up a hill and you should be doing it with somebody. It’s a really social activity.” Russ amusingly interjects, “You can be each other’s therapist as you’re going up the hill.”

As Full Cycle embraces an interdisciplinary approach to outdoor sports, the team's dedication to helping individuals of all levels aligns perfectly with the Boulder community’s ideology of promoting an active and balanced lifestyle. Beyond just selling gear, Full Cycle serves as a catalyst for people to discover the joy of year-round outdoor activities, recognizing their positive impact on mental well-being and the invaluable social connections forged in the great outdoors.

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