After growing up in Bath, Ohio, Andy Bixenstine dabbled in different things. He went to college, spending a few years in engineering at the University of Dayton, then transferring into Kent State’s business management program. After graduation, he followed a couple of old ski club buddies out to Colorado where he worked at a local ski shop. For the next two summers, he came back to Akron to work at a bike shop, and experimented a couple times in owning a similar business. After finding a great location for his Blimp City Bike & Hike on the Towpath Trail, Bixenstine’s dabbling ended. Well, sort of.
Bixenstine has dreams for Akron’s Merriman Valley. He wants to create a place where young people want to be. “We have outdoor resources and universities that we can use to draw people into Akron—make it more hip and artsy, as well as self-sustaining.” He hopes one day the valley will look and feel like the mountain town he once lived in. “I hope we can get more people to see the valley as an asset, and care about it.”
Began biking: In his neighborhood through a huge area of woods where he rode cheap department store bikes with his friends. “I’m not a competitive biker. I still enjoy biking alone or with friends who aren’t competitive either.”
Coolest place he’s biked: In the Rockies when he lived in Vail and in Steamboat, Colo.
Best part of owning a bike shop: “I get to talk to people about what I’m enthusiastic about and I don’t have to sit in front of a computer all day.”
Other hobbies: Kayaking, skiing, hiking and camping. “I like outdoor adventure sports in general. I also like to tinker on bikes and old frames, ‘frankenbikes’ as I call them. I put in the parts and see what happens.”
Keeping the business green: “We recycle every bit of cardboard the bikes come in. We also installed a higher efficiency heater and we’re looking into getting a recycling bin. We’re hoping to do more with park services and environmental groups. We want to encourage people to find more ways to use less, which is why we sell recreation as well as commuter bikes.”
Favorite time of year: Mud season. “It’s mid-fall and mid-spring—the ugly times. The weather is cool, mountain weather. The times when the leaves change and then when everything blooms.”
Favorite food: Sushi
Hidden talents: Beatboxing
On a day off: “I sleep in, or in the
summer I like to get into shade gardening.”