In 2011, Jessica Laufenberg wrote herself a letter.
At the time, she was co-owner of SBR Endurance Performance Center and Rocket Bicycle Studio. She mailed the letter, containing her goals for opening a multi-sport complex, to herself in a yellow manilla envelope that next day and kept it sealed.
Laufenberg opened it last week after seven-and-a-half years, when she and business partner Peter Oyen opened their new facility at 507 Bruce St.
“A lot of it is what we’re doing right now,” she said. “We want people to make this a third place … Place one is home, place two is work, and third place can be here.”
Laufenberg opened SBR – Swim, Bike, Run – 13 years ago on Main Street, relocated to Venture Court a decade ago, and added Oyen and RBS a year later. Now, the business has moved south again, this time across from Fireman’s Park, where the Wisconsin Tritierum Triathlon begins and ends and along to the path where the Ironman Wisconsin’s bike course loops twice this coming Sunday.
The success of the business prompted Oyen to eventually choose between his “corporate America” day job and his passion of cycling, at the urging of Laufenberg, he said.
“(Laufenberg) had a lot of clients that wanted professional bike-fitting,” Oyen said. “She was helping some cyclists with their fit and their form, and after six-plus months of doing that, she said, ‘We can just do this here.’
“It was a hobby of mine, something I had the desire to do,” he added. “I listened to her advice. I’m glad I did.”
Together, they and their coaching staff train and educate athletes to perform in endurance sports through personalized and small group coaching and assist cyclists with fitting, maintenance and repair.
Getting more room
Laufenberg and Oyen moved to the 9,000-square-foot Bruce Street building to get more “elbow space,” she said.
They had tried expanding their services while housed at their location on Venture Court, Laufenberg said, and while trying to secure a larger space, looked throughout Verona trying to find the perfect fit.
Ultimately, “the stars aligned,” Laufenberg said, and they signed a lease for their new facility that places them near Verona’s surrounding countryside, where many of their clients go out for bike rides, and across from Fireman’s Park, Verona’s original swimming pool.
The Bruce Street facility keeps the two businesses side by side and only a door frame away but also allows them to dedicate certain areas of the business for one specific purpose.
In the prior location, clients sometimes had a hard time separating out the two different business ventures, walking into the facility and not knowing whether it was a bicycle studio.
“It’s definitely more of a slap in the face that this is a bike shop,” he said. “Consumers would constantly come in and ask, ‘Is this the bike shop?’ … We memorized an elevator speech for every client that came in, and we said, ‘We shouldn’t do this. It shouldn’t be this difficult.’”
A front-row seat
When several of Laufenberg and Oyen’s clients compete in the Ironman Wisconsin on Sunday, they’ll be cycling past the front door.
“We have a very diverse group of athletes,” Laufenberg said. “We’re not all Ironman – we probably have about a dozen doing it – but we have 100 active athletes doing all kinds of random things.”
The Ironman Wisconsin competition begins at Law Park in downtown Madison, where participants will swim a loop in Lake Monona in front of the Monona Terrace. Participants then get on bicycles and travel to Verona, where they complete two 40-mile laps that run on the city’s southern and western sides.
Throughout the Verona loop, spectators line parts of the roads – some local, some from far away – to cheer on athletes, who then head back to Madison to run the marathon.