Catty-corner from Illinois Electric Cooperative’s headquarters in Winchester sits a small shop. The front windows display bicycles for sale. Upon entering, visitors are met with an eclectic mix of new and used furniture arranged under a chandelier of bike rims. A barista works behind the counter, grinding coffee beans and making drinks to order, and shop owner Colin Kuchy repairs a bicycle amid the chatter of coffee-drinking patrons.
Rural Cyclery isn’t just a bicycle shop. It offers much more. It is a bike service shop, a coffee shop that also serves craft beer, a gathering place for the community and cyclists alike, and the area above the shop is an Airbnb rental cleverly named “The Bike Flat.”
“We decided in order to survive in a small community, we needed to be multifaceted, and I think that’s where things he loves and things I want for this community converge. We came up with this concept to make this place unique,” says Jackie Kuchy, who owns the business with her husband Colin.
Born and raised in Winchester, Jackie became involved in a local civic group committed to restoring and enhancing the community. The couple has always been interested in contributing to those pursuits and discussed opening a coffee shop a decade ago, and “it just seemed like suddenly all the pieces came together, and an opportunity presented itself,” Jackie says.
“I grew up riding bikes,” Colin says, who has always been involved with athletics. “I always ran, played soccer and rode bikes.”
Years ago, he began working for a bike shop in Decatur, the town where he met Jackie, to further his interest and love for cycling. He later worked for Scheels in Springfield and then with Trek Bicycle, which took him and his family to Madison, Wis. After traveling around the Midwest as a sales representative for Trek, he was able to shift territories and move back to Jackie’s hometown of Winchester.
“When COVID hit and things shut down, it was really a blessing in disguise for us because my travel schedule was demanding. It allowed me to be home more for our kids,” Colin explains. “One thing led to another, and the pieces [to open Rural Cyclery] just fell into place for us.”
He noticed a trend in the bike industry. “More and more [bike] shops have become multifaceted in communities that aren’t in large metropolitan areas,” he explains. Coffee, craft beer and wine are popular among cyclists. “They are components that go well together. Cyclists like beer after a ride, and we like coffee before a ride, so it all matches up.”
“We were looking for ways to best serve the community, and we felt like those made sense,” Jackie adds. “It just diversifies what we offer.”
The building home to Rural Cyclery was vacant for more than a decade before the Kuchys purchased it in February 2021. The couple celebrated Valentine’s Day by beginning demolition. “We really had to gut it,” Jackie says.
The original hardwood floor could only be salvaged in the entryway, and concrete was poured throughout the rest of the building to replace the rotted floor joists. However, they did discover several gems. Plaster and paneling covered brickwork and a drop ceiling hid decorative tin tile. “I was so excited that I was in tears,” Jackie says of the discovery. “It was so beautiful.”
They added a convenient drive-thru window on the side of the building for those who need to grab a coffee and go. The Kuchys also purchased the building next door, which currently serves as storage while they decide what to do with it.
After seven months, they opened for business. On Sept. 17, 2022, Rural Cyclery will celebrate its one-year anniversary with an event called Brew Bash. Check out its Facebook page for up-to-date details.
How has the first year gone? Colin explains it in one word: chaotic.
“We’re learning as we go,” Jackie says. “I’m not sure you’re ever really prepared. We learned a lot. We’ve made mistakes and grew from them. But we’ve been really blessed by the community support.”
The Kuchys say customers for the coffee side of the business tend to be local, while the geographic area for the bicycle side of the business is slowly growing.
“You have to travel 50 miles in any direction to get to the closest bike shop,” Colin says. “We knew there was a need and a desire. The cycling community is here. With any business, it takes a little massaging to get business. But it is constantly expanding. … We’re getting a little more known on the bike side in the surrounding communities.”
Rural Cyclery has full coffee service and utilizes coffee beans from Course Coffee Roasters, located in St. Charles, Mo. One of the owners there is a Scott County native, and that local connection is not a coincidence. “We just like that Scott County businesses owners are supporting one another,” Jackie says.
The coffee menu is standard with a variety of coffee brews, cappuccinos, lattes and teas. Each month, a drink special is offered, which is created by and named after a staff member. One of the coffee shop’s all-time best sellers is one of these specials. The “T-Lash” latte is your milk of choice, toasted marshmallow flavoring, French vanilla flavoring, a shot or two of espresso, and topped with whipped cream.
While the coffee menu stays the same, the beer menu changes depending on availability. Rural Cyclery exclusively sells craft beer from microbreweries. Current beer comes from Springfield brewery Anvil and Forge, Millpond Brewing in Millstadt, and several breweries in the St. Louis metro area. The shop recently picked up brews from White Rooster, located in Sparta.
Weather permitting, the bicycle shop offers group rides every Saturday and has hosted bicycling clubs. “We are starting to see more cyclists coming out this way who hear about us and come to ride in the area,” Colin says.
For cyclists, Colin has painted three bicycle routes on the surrounding paved country roads, including 5-, 25- and 45-mile routes. He also recommends the multitude of gravel roads for those looking to increase the difficulty level.
“All [paved] routes are marked with arrows, so you know exactly where you are going,” Colin says. “For the most part, they are on roads with less traffic so people can get a good ride in. … You don’t have to worry about having a map or a GPS if you are a casual cyclist. You can go out and find a course easy for you to ride.”