Carving out a niche in fitness retail is difficult to say the least. Founded in 2006 by Zac Daab, Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Studio (CBS) is based on a unique studio retail model and specializes in custom bike sales. As an expression of their shared passions, and to extend their community connections, co-owners Zac and Terry Buchanan also play a central role in Seattle’s cyclocross scene by creating inclusive, family-oriented events with MFG Cyclocross.
Zac is a native of Holland, MI, and as a youth was a competitive mountain biker in Michigan. Zac came to cyclocross in the late ‘90s through an introduction at North SeaTac Park (now home to the NW MTB Series, aka “Wednesday Night Worlds” organized by Russell Stevenson). After he caught the bug he did a lot of cyclocross racing in Boston, competed at multiple national championships, and did some masters racing in Belgium.
Zac gradually made his way to Seattle via Boston where he did stints with Seven Cycles and Patagonia’s retail store. During his travels he got a taste of Seattle and determined it was going to be home “because you can do everything (kind of sport) here.”
In 2006 the bicycle studio retail model was relatively new and untested, but given Zac’s extensive experience with the bicycle industry and fitness retail he felt like he could make it happen. He opened CBS in Seattle’s Fremont district.
Terry grew up in Bellevue, and graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a BA in Economics. He also earned a Masters in in Environmental Economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
After college Terry worked with his dad’s company, Buchanan General Contracting, as a project manager on rehab projects and the cellular buildout of the 1990s. Terry’s project management experience is apparent in his work with MFG Cyclocross, where his nickname is “the hammer.”
Terry has a near life-long history in the Seattle cycling community. He started riding bikes in high school for fitness. Terry loved the sense of freedom of being on a bike and says “I have always been a ‘body in motion’ kind of person.” The Tour de France was a hook that triggered his competitive instincts and he was intrigued to compete himself.
Terry got into bicycle competition in the late 1980s at a criterium series held at the Microsoft campus where he says he “got his butt kicked.” Through his racing social circle he got to know people like Chris Stevens at Elliot Bay Bicycles (now Davidson & Kullaway Custom Bicycles) who encouraged him to get into track. As a member of the Rodents based on Mercer Island, he quickly progressed up the ranks on the track, and was a Cat 1/2 rider the second year on the track and finished 8th in the US Match Sprint National Championships.
Although Terry loves competition, he says the social aspect of cycling is what makes it so special compared to other sports — “…you can ride for 3 hours and have a great conversation the whole time.”
In 2006 Zac competed at Star Crossed (currently on hiatus) for the first time, which was organized by Terry. The light bulb went off for Zac. He thought he could inject some excitement into the area’s cyclocross events. He proposed the idea of working together with Terry on a new series. Terry initially said “no,” but Zac persisted and MFG Cyclocross was born.
Zac and Terry’s CBS partnership grew from their mutually enjoyable working relationship on the MFG Series. Terry was at a point in his life where he was looking at options outside of the construction industry, and a partnership made sense to help grow CBS.
At CBS, Zac’s close working relationships with customers paralleled Terry’s previous work with cycling athletes. For Terry, constantly building the products they are selling also connects him with what he liked about his previous work in the construction business.
As a relative newcomer to Seattle, Zac was naively unencumbered by the limitations encountered by previous cyclocross event organizers. Zac saw the possibilities with fresh eyes and had the energy to make his vision a reality. He wanted to emulate the way cyclocross is done in Europe. Through lots of hard work, MFG has established a good working relationship with Seattle Parks. Proof: the Woodland Park Grand Prix is now the exciting finale of the six-event MFG series.
As a way of reducing the barriers to entry for folks new to racing, MFG initially began to experiment with non-sanctioned events, and the series is now completely non-sanctioned. As a result of hosting unsanctioned races in convenient locations, participation has more than doubled since the series began.
Zac and Terry say they are always brainstorming alternatives beyond MFG. Possibilities include a “Gentleman’s Race” and a 9 to 5 mountain bike race. They are also looking at the effort necessary to do UCI events and evaluating how such events can be more community-focused and last longer than a day.
As a result of the foundation laid by Jerry Baker, Dan Norton, “Wick,” and others, and these more recent efforts by Zac and Terry, cyclocross in Seattle has an inclusive, fun atmosphere complete with picnics, and special events for youth and teens. During the time Zac has been organizing events in Seattle, he says he sees that the cyclocross scene is having positive effects on kids’ lives, not the least of which is participation by students in the Major Taylor Project.