October 25, 2021

Eager cyclists wheel in for maintenance

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Matthew Belknap of Action Sports tunes and cleans a bicycle Thursday at the shop on Pomeroy Street in Cortland. With gyms closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the roads and trails remain open for the cycling-oriented.

As cyclists hope for warmer days full of sunshine, they are also getting maintenance done on their bikes to ensure they are safe to ride once nicer days arrive.

Marty Christofferson of Richford is one of those people. He’s got one of his bikes at Action Sports being worked on right now after experiencing problems with his rear shock.

Christofferson is just one avid biker who is happy to see that bike shops were deemed an essential business during the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered many other places.

“If they weren’t (open) it would be a bummer,” he said. “I can do maintenance myself, but there are some things that are just easier for them to do.”

Although he lives in Richford, right on the edge of Tompkins, Tioga and Cortland counties, he doesn’t mind the 25-minute drive to get to the shop. It’s where he bought all four of his bikes — an electric mountain bike, two other mountain bikes and a road bike — from friend and shop co-owner Matt Belknap.

Linda Belknap, Matt’s wife and shop co-owner, said they weren’t sure in mid-March if they were going to be deemed essential. But she’s happy to see the shop will be open for its 20th year to help people get out of the house. Business is a little down, but still steady right now.

“We’re usually busier than this at this time of the year,” she said, noting the lack of beautiful riding weather could be the reason. “Our business is based upon the weather, so if there’s snow on the ground people aren’t out biking.” But they do expect to keep seeing people come in to buy bikes or get repairs.

“Spring is usually our busiest time of the year,” she said. “If this virus was happening in October, we probably wouldn’t have anyone coming in the door.”

Of everyone who’s stopped by the shop so far she said only one person has mentioned switching back over to biking outside since gyms are closed due to the virus.

Christofferson said biking right now is a good way to practice social distancing while getting in some exercise.

“When the weather is good, I’ve definitely noticed more cyclists out,” he said.

“There’s definitely more people out in the woods than I’ve ever seen.” Julie Barclay has noticed something similar in her Groton neighborhood. Barclay is an avid rider and loves to train for triathlons.

“I’ve definitely seen more people riding past my house than I would normally this year,” she said. “Exercise right now is important especially for your mental health.”