By Billie Jean Plaster
Take two brothers, an insatiable appetite for fun and a passion for mountain biking. Add them up and you have Alpine Designs, a local mountain bike manufacturer and retail outlet owned by Toby and Andy Feuling.
Toby was fresh out of college in 1992 and wanting to live back in his hometown of Sandpoint. Since job opportunities were slim, he started brainstorming ideas for his own business. He had always revolved his life around biking -- as a kid on a BMX, a teenager road riding and a college student mountain biking. Starting Alpine Designs MTB, then, was a logical choice. Now it's a thriving business with 5,000 bikes sold to date.
"Entrepeneurship runs in my family," Toby said. "It looked like the way to go. ... I didn't have much to lose."
Beginning with a sourcing trip to Taiwan, he sought frames and components needed to assemble his own custom-built and designed bikes. Even though Andy was only 13 at the time, he got involved in the business, too. Now, at 22, he's a full partner.
Today their shop at Fifth and Oak is 6,000 square feet filled with retail space for bikes and accessories and an assembly area. Alpine Designs has become a biking resource for tourists and locals alike where you can ask for advice, pick up trail maps or check out the informational bulletin board.
"We want to be the hub of cycling activity in Sandpoint," Andy said.
At every turn, it seems, the Feuling brothers promote biking and fun. They sponsor a mountain bike racing team and two local races: the annual Rasta Relay that includes mountain biking down snow-covered slopes at Schweitzer in April; and the Summer Starlight Mountain Bike Series at Schweitzer in July. These and other events a bike rally in September and a bike swap in April help them raise money for North Idaho Bikeways to build a bike trail system and to develop a BMX track.
"It would offer our kids in the community a safe, fun alternative," Andy says. Toby adds, "Kids are always going to like bikes, and riding bikes makes you feel like a kid."