From construction work to speed skating to running his own bike shop, KC Boutiette has always been a Jack of all trades. Now the four-time U.S. Olympian and cross trainer has added a new occupation to his resume — shoemaker.
For the last five years, Boutiette, 41, has owned and operated a cycling business in Pinecrest — Elite Cycling & Fitness, 13108 S Dixie Hwy. The shop caters to everyone, from the casual cyclist to the triathlon athlete, offering repairs and tune-ups, and selling bicycles, parts, energy supplements and clothing gear. The shop also hosts monthly group rides, spin classes and fitness training sessions.
An Olympic speed skater who first rose to fame in the 1994 U.S. Olympic Trials, Boutiette had a successful career for more than a decade, winning numerous national championship titles and setting world records. Along the way, he met and married fellow speed skater Jennifer Rodriguez. The two moved from Utah to Miami in 2006 to run Elite Cycling & Fitness.
“We wanted to start our own business and a cycling shop was a perfect match for us,” said Boutiette, who lives in Brickell. “As speed skaters, we came across a lot of athletes who used cycling as a cross-training tool. It just made sense.”
Boutiette and Rodriguez divorced in 2008. It wasn’t until early in 2011 that Boutiette decided to take the business in a new direction. In March, he partnered with Rocket7 owner and creator Brian King to learn how to make custom lightweight carbon fiber shoes for cycling, running and
Rocket7 — founded in 1999 by King, also a former professional speed skater — is a brand of shoes that are molded to the individual’s feet, customizing length, width, instep, arch support and heel cup shape to maximize the cyclist’s comfort and performance in long races.
The Seattle-based company gained notoriety when prominent professional cyclists were photographed wearing them. Then, in 2008, King dismantled the operation to pursue a career in software. When Boutiette called King in March to purchase the embroidery machine that he used to make the shoes, the idea to relaunch Rocket7 was born.
“I was considering starting another business, maybe doing tee shirts and other clothing,” Boutiette said. “I knew Brian wasn’t using his embroidery machine, so I figured I’d take it off his hands. Then he asked me to think about getting Rocket7 off the ground again and I thought it was a good idea. I own a bike shop; they go well together.”
Boutiette shipped all the tools and materials from Seattle to a warehouse three blocks away from his bike shop in Pinecrest and started taking custom orders for clients. When the re-launch of Rocket7 began to interfere with his bicycle shop business, he sought help from Marcelo Penengo, 40, and Jerry Mendez, 31, who signed on as business partners. Both have backgrounds in cycling and store management.
“I couldn’t do both,” Boutiette said. “I needed more time to make shoes. Jerry and Marcelo wanted to own a bike shop. It was a great opportunity for everyone.”
Penengo and Mendez, now co-owners of Elite Cycling & Fitness, worked together for five years at Bike Tech off Coral Way and Southwest 22nd Avenue as manager and assistant manager. In 2010, Mendez moved on to manage his own store, Top Dog Cycle in Coconut Grove, and later brought on Penengo to potentially take part ownership of the shop. When the deal fell through, Boutiette offered the two a chance to be co-owners of Elite Cycling & Fitness. “We’ve talked about this for a long time, so it’s great to finally see the dream become a reality,” said Mendez, a South Miami resident.
Penengo said he and Mendez bring enough cycling knowledge and experience to elevate Boutiette’s business to a new level.
“We have the networking contacts in the community and we know most of the cycling groups, teams and trainers in the industry,” said Penengo, who lives in South Beach. “We know what it takes to cater to the entry-level cyclist just as much as the high-end cyclist. And we’re familiar with how the store should flow, be organized and the selection of merchandising. This is going to be a beneficial partnership for us all.”