Rolling with it: Whitehorse bike shops get people out riding while taking COVID-19 precautions

This is typically the start of the busy season for Whitehorse's bike shops — but this is not a typical year. Still, the shops are doing what they can to maintain service and get people out riding.

'I think that little jolt of exercise helps anyone feel a little bit more sane,' says shop owner

There's still plenty of snow in Whitehorse, good for fat biking. (Submitted by Icycle Sports)

Although there's still plenty of snow on the ground this year, April is typically the start of the busy season for bike shops in Whitehorse.

Dean Eyre, owner of Cadence Cycle, says this is when people start getting geared up for the summer.   

"This would normally be entering into our two or three busiest months," he said. "It's a little bit late this year — partly because of weather but also because of [the] pandemic."

With physical distancing measures in place due to COVID-19, it's certainly not business as usual for bike shops. Summer inventory was ordered months ago, and they're feeling the economic pinch just like other small businesses.

Still, Cadence and another local bike shop, Icycle Sports, say they are doing what they can to maintain their regular service, and get people out riding.

Dean Eyre of Cadence Cycle says the bike season is off to a slow start. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Both shops are taking precautions related to COVID-19. Front doors are locked to control the number of people entering the store, and bikes are sanitized when they come in for servicing or after test rides. Icycle staff are even sending customers straight to the sink to wash their hands when they enter the store, as well as limiting how much customers handle the products.

The two shops are also offering pick up and delivery for bike service appointments, so customers don't have to leave their homes.

Jonah Clark, owner of Icycle Sports, said they can actually handle more tune ups than usual right now, because all the order information is done by phone ahead of time. 

"When the mechanics are working on the bikes they're pretty much uninterrupted and that results in much higher efficiency," Clark said.

Jonah Clark of Icycle says they can do about 10 service appointments a day. (Submitted by Icycle Sports)

He says the current wait time for appointments is a couple of days, but that will likely increase as the snow melts.

In his regular press briefings, Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon's chief medical officer of health, encourages people to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, as long as they maintain physical distancing.

Eyre at Cadence couldn't agree more.

"I think that little jolt of exercise helps anyone feel a little bit more sane," he said.

Bike shops are keeping their front doors locked to control the number of people entering the store. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Eyre points out that bike commuting is an alternative for people who don't feel comfortable taking public transit because of COVID-19. 

"Cycling is interesting in that it's one of the few things that I think people still feel like they can do, and do it safely."

Eyre said bike shops are considered an essential service by the Yukon government and can therefore remain open during the pandemic, unless economic circumstances necessitate otherwise. 

On its website, the government describes as essential "workers who provide sale, rental and leasing services including motorized and non-motorized vehicles."


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