As other recreational sports face restrictions within the city, cycling has seen a huge uptick in interest. But as cycling interest grows, so do the delays in cycling-related services and retailers.

In its 85 years selling and servicing bikes, this is possibly the busiest few months Calgary Cycle has been, says Online Services Manager Curtis Larson.

Due to restrictions put in place to help protect staff and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Calgary Cycle is seeing a maximum of 15 people inside their downtown location at any time. Larson says this makes things difficult but rewarding.

Larson says that Calgary Cycle has had to limit the number of customers to seven inside the store. While it keeps people safer, it also increases the wait.

“That was tough, we’ve had to institute the lineups outside. At the South location, it’s generally a half hour wait, but at the big store it can be an hour or more, and that’s from the moment it opens, to the moment it closes.”

With the increased demand, Calgary Cycle has run low on key products, making it difficult for customers after a certain bike or particular parts. Larson says that it was a combination of things that resulted in the shortage.

“The tricky part was, when all of the COVID-19 stuff happened, most of the vendors like Trek assumed that the season was going to take a pretty hard hit, so they all hit the brakes on production. Then, when it turned out we didn’t have to close, and demand went crazy high, they pulled some stock back together to try to get it to shops.”

Calgary Cycle’s service centre at their main downtown location. Photo courtesy of Calgary Cycle.

LINEUPS FOR SERVICING

The Bike Root, located on the University of Calgary’s campus is facing the same issues, says the store’s president, with high demand for bike service.

“A couple of days, I’ve had 10 appointments, which I can’t really do more than that, because it takes an hour to work on a bike. That’s my full day, right?” Austin Sersen says.

He adds that the team is usually booking three to four days in advance, as their role as a smaller, community-based group, there’s typically less demand, compared to bigger repair and servicing places like Calgary Cycle or box stores along the lines of Sportchek.

The Bike Root is located on the University of Calgary’s campus, and serves as a community focused way to repair bikes through tutorials on how to repair, as well as a club to join. Photo courtesy of Bike Root.

NEW CYCLISTS ON THE PATHS

As demand for servicing and purchasing new bikes continues in the summer months, experienced cyclists are seeing more and more people head to the paths. 

Tom Babin, “Cyclist in Chief” for Shifter, a cycling blog that posts stories and videos about cycling around the city of Calgary, says it’s important to keep in mind some things for those who are just getting into cycling, or returning to it this summer.

“I would say that if you’re new, try to stay away from peak pathways and peak locations, because they get really busy. Try to get out in the mornings or weekdays, as they are generally a bit quieter. Find areas where they’ve added pedestrian cycling areas, such as Memorial Drive, where the city has done a great job in adding areas for cyclists,” Babin says.

Tom Babin, editor of Shifter and an author of multiple cycling books takes a ride around the streets of Calgary. Photo courtesy of Tom Babin.

Larson says that actions like ringing your bell, giving proper space, following a speed limit and following other guidelines is essential, especially during a stressful time like now, when everyone is trying to relieve stress through activities like cycling.

Larson added it has been extremely busy on some pathways, with some people taking the time to call Calgary Cycle to complain about the amount of cyclists out and about. 

“Everyone has to handle it their own way, you can’t tell everyone else they’re riding too close to family on the pathways.”

Here are two suggestions for good routes around Calgary to try:

“The classic reservoir route is a good one to do. I think you do 22 or 23 kilometres with one loop around the reservoir, and it really takes you though lots of cool Calgary environments. Lots of natural sounds, you can feel out of the city there. It’s long, it’s doable by kids, so it’s a great one.” Tom Babin, Shifter.

“There is a really unique canalway, it goes from Ramsey and the Inglewood area, and it goes all the way past Sheppard into Chestermere, so it’s a good 40km one way. It is perfectly flat because it is adjacent to the canal. So that’s a really great one. (Of course, now I’m giving away the secrets!)” Austin Sersen, President, The Bike Root.