KEARNEY — As the weather warms in Kearney, children and adults have hit the streets and trails on two wheels.
Avid bicyclist and The Bike Shed owner Paul Talbert said he’s seen more people than usual riding their bicycles this spring while south-central Nebraska deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think people are just cooped up at home, and I mean you drive around in the evening and you see all of the people around Yanney (Heritage) Park and on the hike-bike trails,” he said. “I think everybody is just looking for something to get outside and do.”
And Talbert said his bicycle business is now busier than a typical spring.
“The foot traffic is more than usual,” Talbert said. “Even with the virus scare people are still coming in.”
The Bike Shed, located at 1800 Second Ave, sells both new and used bicycles for children and beginners up to advanced riders. Talbert said he’s not out of bikes, but the inventory is running low, especially for used.
Talbert has noticed many young families shopping at his store.
“With all the schools closed and all that,” Talbert said, “I think a lot of parents are having P.E. time on bikes.”
Talbert and his staff also have been busy repairing bikes at the store.
“We try and get bikes done within a few days, and we’re already booked out for at least two weeks right now,” he said. “So it just went from zero to crazy busy.”
On Friday afternoon, people filed in and out of the store to look at bikes, buy parts and pick up their repaired bikes.
Talbert said some customers make appointments before visiting The Bike Shed, which helps the business adhere to the 10-person limit during the pandemic. For families wanting to buy children’s bikes, they also may set up a time for the kids to test-ride the bikes without going into the store.
If Kearney area customers don’t feel comfortable going into the store, Talbert said he picks up bikes to be repaired and returns them to customers’ driveways.
Trenton and Kassandra Devitt of Kearney were among customers Friday to visit The Bike Shed. The Devitts had picked up bikes from the repair shop for four of their five children. They said their homebound children, ages 7-13, will ride their bikes often now that they are repaired.
“They’ve had a lot of spare time with school and all of that being closed down,” Trenton said.
Teenage sisters Christina and Lilly Arram of Kearney also have been bike riding to fill their time. The sisters are at home finishing their Kearney Catholic High School classes.
Christina, a senior, and Lilly, a sophomore, visited The Bike Shed to buy tubes for their flat tires.
“I used to bike all the time before I could drive and stuff,” Christina said. “Then I could drive and I didn’t bike ride anymore. But now it’s so nice and there’s nothing to do inside, we just go and bike.”
Other customers, such as Tricia Sheets and Haley Sanchez, both of Kearney, looked to upgrade their bikes. They said COVID-19 had nothing to do with them buying the bikes now.
Sheets wanted to get back into exercise.
“I used to bike all the time, and need a good bike,” she said.
Sanchez said she wanted to buy a bike for her husband as another exercise option.
Talbert said bike riding is a great pastime for people of all age,” he said. “And it’s just easy on the body, and it’s fun to get out and get fresh air and see the sights.”