From Lamar County Chamber President Paul Allen:
Residents of Lamar County have taken the opportunity to practice social distancing and get outside during the last few weeks. There has been a spike in the number of bikes you see around town, on the Northeast Texas Trail, and on the country roads. We have taken the opportunity to talk with two of our Chamber members that are meeting the needs of our community when it comes to all things bike related.
Gear Down Bikes and Cycle Works Paris have both seen an increase in the amount of bicycling interest in our area. Though bicycling is already very popular in Lamar County with the Annual Tour de Paris Bicycle Rally, and the continued work and improvements at Barber Hills Mountain Bike Trail located at Pat Mayse Lake, there are people for the first time purchasing bicycles and utilizing what Lamar County has to offer for cyclists.
Brad and Ashely Hilliard are the owners of Cycle Works Paris. They started their business out of their home in 2016 and opened their shop in January 2019, located at 307 Evergreen Street.
Brad stated, “I’ve always had a passion about bicycles and spent most of my younger years on a bike, standing on a bike, jumping off a bike, or working on bikes. I just love all types of cycling. “
Although Cycle Works Paris has been busy ever since they opened, they have never seen the peak in business as they have recently. They are selling multiple bicycles every day and answering calls and emails locally, and from out of state looking for their Kona bikes. People are coming into Cycle Works wanting to get out with their families and to enjoy the trails and the fresh air.
Cycle Works Paris encourages anyone looking to ride, not to be fearful or hesitant about starting on a new adventure with cycling. We want to meet you, create a relationship with you, and understand your bicycle needs and how we can work with your budget. We carry multiple options in different price ranges so that you can find a great quality bike that best meets your riding needs. As always, we encourage you to buy local and support those in your Paris community. This creates a strong relationship in our community where you will be taken care of right here by your hometown family before and after they sell.
When asked for a specific story about a customer, Brad told the story about a Veteran that had not ridden a bicycle in years and was looking for a bike to suit his needs for riding in his neighborhood, country roads, and the trail with his wife. They both wanted bikes to ride together but were looking at different styles of riding and styles of bicycles. We were able to find what they needed, and now it’s an activity they share together.
Stan and Dawnie Lyles are the owners of Gear Down Bikes. They have been in business for 5 years with the last three being in Paris, Texas. They have seen big changes in the last few months. COVID-19 has caused people to really think about good health and staying healthy. Cycling is a great source for rehab and exercise as well as having fun. Cycling gives the family something to do together outside. With many other athletic events being canceled, cycling gives children a way to expend that energy and get some physical activity after spending many hours in the house. People are expressing their need to get out of the house, as well as feeling safe.
Gear Down Bikes will help you find the right kind of bike. People really don’t think about how different cycling is now, compared to the past. We ask a lot of questions of our customers to narrow down the type of bike that will fit their needs and style of riding. There is not a “one bike fits all.” There are road bikes, mountain bikes, fit/active bikes, comfort bikes, and kid bikes and within each category, there are many bikes with specific capabilities and components. People that “Gear Down” sees a range from sheer enjoyment to hardcore. We do whatever we can to fit the need of every individual.
When asked about special stories, the Lyles mentioned that they had once fit a long-time family dog with a tripod type of apparatus that assisted him with mobility. Recently, they had a customer “pay it forward” and purchase a bike for someone that had been very kind and helpful to their family. One of the joys of being in this business according to the Lyles, is watching people develop a new-found joy in becoming healthier and happier through the world of cycling.
Stan and Dawnie stress that a good bike makes a world of difference. They advise getting properly fit with your new bike. Bikes that are unsound or not the right fit can discourage a rider. The proper fitting at Gear Down usually takes about an hour. That fitting will include adjusting, grips, brakes, etc. If you are not comfortable on your bike, you are less likely to ride it.
Gear Down is thankful to have the opportunity to serve our community and share their passion for cycling. Paris is quickly becoming known as a community excited and enthusiastic about cycling. Paris has so much to offer with the NETT Trail, Tour De Paris Bicycle Rally, Spinistry Gravel Grind, Barber Hills and the Pump Track coming soon. Paris is a wonderful place for a family-owned local bike shop to be a big part of a great community.