Kevin Soja

Berkshire Bike and Board co-owner Steffen Root '94.

Steffen’s roots are firmly planted in the Berkshires. A native of South Egremont, Mass., this outdoor enthusiast is co-owner of Berkshire Bike and Board, a full-service bike shop with two locations in the heart of the Berkshire Hills. Steffen received his undergraduate degree in Resort Management from Green Mountain College in 1998. He and his wife, Melissa, have two daughters, Astacia (4) and Willamina (3), and continue to live locally. Whether it’s racing down the slopes in an adult ski league or biking around town, Steffen continues to maintain an active lifestyle and enduring love and appreciation for the outdoors.

This is a year of milestones for Steffen. His 25th Berkshire Reunion will be taking place this summer (June 7-9) and last month marked 20 years of successful small business ownership. Since taking over the store, Steffen and co-owner David Clark have worked hard to evolve and adapt as retail store owners in today’s digital world. Known as the “Best Bike Shop in the Berkshires,” Berkshire Bike and Board is more than just a bike shop: it’s an experience that offers riders of all abilities exceptional service and knowledge, unique events and opportunities to explore the Berkshires, and an active community.  

As Steffen reflects on his career, he feels incredibly fortunate to have found a vocation that is also a hobby. He saw an opportunity and hopped on for the ride, both literally and figuratively.

Berkshire students in the Pro Vita class Essential Bike Skills and Maintenance were invited to Berkshire Bike and Board in Great Barrington this February to learn more about bike repair. 

Can you tell us about your career and hobbies, and why you are passionate about them?  I co-own Berkshire Bike and Board, a retail store with two locations: Great Barrington, Mass., and Pittsfield, Mass. Growing up in South Egremont, I always had a passion for riding my bike, skiing, and snowboarding, and these personal interests continued to be fostered while at Berkshire. I started working at the bike shop during the summer after my freshman year in college, and continued until I graduated. I had every intention of heading west to California after working one final summer. At the end of the season, however, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase the shop with a friend. It was a tough decision as I wanted to get out of the town I grew up in. But I knew it was an opportunity that, if passed up, would haunt me. My partner and I took over the store on January 2, 1999.

How did Berkshire help you shape and pursue your goals? Berkshire instilled an ethos to follow your passions and do them well. Berkshire gave me a solid foundation; when I arrived at college, I felt prepared. It also gave me a sense of self. At the time, I was not mature enough to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life in picking a major. So I decided to pursue my passion for being outside and being active whether it was skiing, biking, or scuba diving. A Resort Management degree at Green Mountain College gave me what I felt was the closest thing that I could find to satisfy that desire. 

In what ways is your Berkshire experience present in your life today? Berkshire helped foster a love of the outdoors with a hint of competitiveness and passion to push oneself. It helped create a love of learning, ranging from wanting to delve deeper into emotional intelligence to being able to adapt to an ever-changing retail landscape.

What are your fondest memories of Berkshire? Being part of a team is what comes to mind first, especially the ski team. The winning legacy of the program put subtle pressure on us that helped motivate me to work really hard to contribute to our cohesive team. Practicing and traveling with one of the only coed sports teams made the ski team that much more fun.

What advice you would give to today's students? Seize the opportunities given to you. Be as cognizant as possible to know when an opportunity is in front of you. Being able to experience a world-class education and facilities set against a bucolic background is an opportunity not to be wasted. It’s hard to understand what you have when it is all you know. Take time to reflect and absorb the magnitude of the setting and the fortuitous doors it can open.