While most small retail businesses are being negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyler Duit is staying as busy as ever.
Duit, owner of Spoken Wheel Cyclery in Iowa Falls, said he's been working every day doing tune ups, assembling or fixing bikes.
He said he's as busy, if not more so, this spring as any other spring. The showroom is still open to the public and he encourages riders to get their bikes into tip-top shape while the weather is warming up.
"It's good just to get the bike ready for the spring and summer riding season," Duit said. "We'll clean the bike, clean and lube the chain, tighten up the brakes, that kind of thing."
Duit said he's happy to do curbside service or in-town pickup and delivery for customers. He said he hasn't had to add many more sanitation practices than the ones that were already in place.
And for those who feel cooped up inside, Duit said bike rides are a good and safe way to get out of the house.
“It’s important to remember that getting out on a bike is a great way to exercise during this whole thing," he said. "Get the kids out of the house and go for a ride.”
Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bike Coalition, said he's heard almost all positive news from bike shop owners since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“We’ve actually seen it across the country getting on bikes because their gym is closed, or their normal physical activity is closed," Wyatt said. "You can still ride bicycles and enjoy trails while maintaining social distancing. We’re seeing strong efforts with the bike retailers in the state.”
Wyatt said the IBC has contacted the Governor's Office in an attempt to make sure bike shops are allowed to stay open in the same fashion that automotive shops would stay of for transportation repair as an "essential service."
This summer is supposed to be a big time for cyclists and businesses in Iowa Falls because the cross-state bike ride RAGBRAI is scheduled to make an overnight stop on July 21. But those plans are in limbo due to the pandemic.
Jeff Burchfield, co-chair of the RAGBRAI Iowa Falls Executive Committee, said he expects to hear something about this year's plans in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, planning has slowed to a virtual halt.
"Essentially, for our planning purposes here in Iowa Falls, we’ve put everything on hold until we get additional direction from RAGBRAI and its officials,” Burchfield said. "This is not a good time to move forward on sponsorship and fundraising, that kind of thing. There a lot more higher priorities right now that we need to focus on."
He said if RAGBRAI 2020 is postponed it would most likely be pushed back to the summer of 2021. He said it's his understanding that Iowa Falls would have the opportunity to host next year if the ride is delayed.
Burchfield declined to predict what will happen, but he did say that he's spoke with other overnight RAGBRAI town representatives and he's found them to be less than optimistic.
"The reality is it’s a real uncertain time right now," he said. "I would say that as soon as one or two communities that are hosting say ‘Hey, we just can’t do this,’ then those type of dominoes start falling too."
Burchfield said up until now he's been very pleased with the work that's been done.
"On the positive side, our executive board, our committees have been just rocking and rolling and I got the impression that we’re in great shape as far as our planning is concerned," he said. "Now it’s just a matter of is it something that’s going to happen or not.”