The only retiring Swicked Cycles owner James Durand expects he'll do is retiring customers' bikes. Photo submitted

Are bikes essential? Who’s to say?

Obviously it's been a messed up few weeks for ... well, everyone.

Obviously it’s been a messed up few weeks for … well, everyone.

I have never seen change come so quickly in my life. It seems that every day we enter uncharted territory again, throwing away much of what we learned yesterday. It sounds like Apple’s business plan for iPhones.

So with all the chaos and uncertainty, I have just concentrated on what I can control.

It’s hard to decipher between right or wrong answers in this situation, so we just do what we think is best for those around us. Our families, our friends, and our communities.

For us that means fixing bikes so our local cyclists can get out and ride, relax, and entertain their kids while home schooling. (Does cornering practice and learning perfect wheelie techniques count as home schooling in anyone’s world but mine?)

With all that said I have been second guessing many of my decisions lately. Should we be open? Are we cleaning enough, or doing enough distancing? Does the community really need their bikes during all of this, or is that just bias clouding my judgment?

As the week went on, we had more and more riders thanking us for being open, explaining how desperate they are to ride their bikes for transportation, recreation, or on a mellow solo ride to maintain some mental health.

Clearly, I would argue that bike repair is an essential service. Bicycles offer so much benefit to the community, how could anyone see it differently, but again, I’m biased.

Then I received a letter from an MLA stating that bicycle retail and repair shops are in fact considered an essential service in B.C. It was a relief to see the government put this value on cycling, but what really made my day was the message I received Friday night after a somewhat complicated repair to save a rear wheel.

“Hi James,

“Just wanted to say thanks for getting me back on my bike. I know you’ve been putting in some long days. It felt so good to get out in the trails tonight. Thanks again.”

It’s a simple message, but it hits home with me. Not everyone has multiple bikes in their garage. If a repair is left unattended, then riding stops. I would personally go a little wonky if I couldn’t ride (maybe I should say, a little more wonky).

So as much as things change daily, as much as I second guess my every thought, and with so many unknowns going forward, I’ll concentrate on what I can control. As long as we can keep people riding, we’ll be here, disinfecting, staying distant, and repairing bikes.

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…

Campbell River Mirror

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