The Roanoker - January/February 2018 - 30
! MY NAME
Downshift Bikes allows cyclists
to talk shop, gather over coffee or
beer and make great friends.
here are the
best part of
HE BEST DESTINATIONS often come at the
end of a long and winding road. For
Steve Ambruzs, owner of Downshift
Bikes, Roanoke was just that destination. A fisheries biologist and 2001 graduate
of Virginia Tech, Ambruzs was familiar with
the region, but never imagined that he would
make it his home. With a scientific research
career that required he live in more far flung
areas of the country (California, Nevada, Wyoming, Indiana, Canada, Alaska), after 15 years,
Ambruzs found himself "done with the cold,"
as he put it, and ready to change careers and
open his own bike shop. So, in 2015, Ambruzs
and his partner, Beth Oates, a lawyer, began to
plan their big move to the East Coast.
For over a year, Ambruzs and Oates traveled
across the Southeast in search of their future
home. Cities like Asheville, Charleston, Chattanooga and Charlottesville, with their closeknit, outdoor-oriented communities, seemed
promising, and the pair spent significant time
getting to know each city. Roanoke, it turns
out, wasn't originally on the list.
"We originally picked Charlottesville, but
then struck out on finding jobs and a house and
retail space that were affordable," Ambruzs says.
It was then that Ambruzs discovered a
tweet from Roanoke Outside about YP eXperience, a young professionals networking conference in Roanoke. Recalling that event, Ambruzs explained that it was the turning point
for him. "Everyone at the conference was interested in making Roanoke a better place to
live. And that was it for me; I wanted to be in
a place that felt this way."