Roanoke Rail Heritage Inspires Bicycle Makers

What’s does a historic steam locomotive have to do with hand-crafted bicycles? Meet Aaron Dykstra, a new entrepreneur with throw-back thinking – building customized bicycles that match bike riders to carefully selected materials.
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What's does a historic steam locomotive have to do with hand-crafted bicycles?

For one Roanoke native, everything.

Meet Aaron Dykstra, a new entrepreneur with throw-back thinking – building customized bicycles that match bike riders to carefully selected materials.

Dykstra founded the Six-Eleven Bicycle Company after moving back to Roanoke from Chicago, where the life-long bicycle enthusiast worked for a cycling advocacy group and raced on a team - http://www.sixelevenbicycleco.com.

His quest? Combine performance with artful design to create the ultimate custom steel bicycles.

His inspiration? The Great 611 J-Class steam locomotive. The Roanoke-built 611, which pulled passengers in the 1950s, is a sleek and powerful engine, the last of a kind. It's now on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Dykstra's frames start at $1,500, with a host of available options. Every creation gets stamped with a number signifying a completed bike.

His work is already getting noticed. He received the rookie of the year award at the 2010 Shimano North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

Dykstra is not the region's only decorated frame builder. Stratton Delaney is the maker of Kazane bike frames - http://www.teamkazane.com.

With his online shop and downtown Roanoke store, he supplies some leading cycling teams with an array of choices.

The Roanoke Region's greenways, mountain-bike trails and winding roads are luring bike enthusiasts. And that's spawning a culture of affiliated groups like Sharebike.org, which recycles bikes and advocates this alternative transport. Sharebike gained recognition from the League of American Bicyclists as a bicycle-friendly business - Silver Award.

As interest in bicycling grows, so do events and races that attract riders. One can't- miss mountain-bike race is the Wednesday Night Disco Race Series, where racers – some may wear spandex to get their freak on, after all – race up and down Mill Mountain.

Take note - Roanoke is a cycling mecca!

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