As Central Floridians continue heading outdoors, this local bike shop is making sure their equipment is safe and ready to use.
It’s no surprise that with gyms, recreation centers and parks closed, many people are pulling out old bicycles to head outdoors to bike in Florida’s fine springtime weather. And while Fred Hewett, owner of Full Circle Cycle in MetroWest, is happy to see the resurgent interest in cycling, many of the bikes coming into his shop these days need some serious TLC.
“Unfortunately, many of these bikes have seen better days,” Hewett says. “Since the shutdown, we have received a tsunami of 20- to 30-year-old bikes needing maintenance. I guess people are beginning to realize that now might be a good time to get their health in order and exercise, so interest in biking has increased and my repair business exploded.”
Before Hewett could start repairing the huge influx of bikes, he needed to make sure he was providing a safe environment for his employees and customers.
“Even prior to the stay-at-home order issued on March 26, I closed the shop for four days to meet with my team and decide on processes that would allow us to safely move forward,” he explains.
The safety precautions that Hewett undertook were extensive. The sales showroom was completely shut down and sealed off (new bikes can be purchased only online) and a 132-foot barrier tape was installed in the back of the shop for outdoor repairs. Repairs are done by appointment only, with a 30-minute staggered window between customers, and remote payment is accepted.
“Most importantly, before a bike is worked on, we take extra measures to clean and sanitize it,” Hewett says. “One employee processes the bike by putting it in a rack, spraying all human contact points, drying it in direct sunlight and then washing the entire bike with soap and water. My personal physician says it could be overkill but a good overkill.”
Hewett also has taken extra steps to limit his store manager’s exposure because he has a child at home with a compromised immune system.
“This employee works from home, handling our back-of-house duties such as answering the phone, social media, web chats, bike sales, tracking inventory and dealing with vendors,” Hewett says. “Believe me, he is quite busy.”
On average, Hewett and his crew are repairing 10-12 bikes per day, and he is working seven days a week doing “whatever it takes.” Of course, the most common problem is flat tires, which is an easy fix.
“You should see the mountain of tire tubes we accumulate at the end of each day,” he says.
Hewett is pleased to see his customers back on the road and is hopeful that the cycling trend will continue beyond COVID-19.
“It’s a good feeling to know that we are providing a valuable service during this trying time and we did all that we could to keep everyone safe,” he says.