currents

Wheeling from the pandemic

Welcome Catskill CycleWorks

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 2/10/21

JEFFERSONVILLE, NY — Spinning is out; cycling is in. Thanks to a coronavirus pandemic paradox, much of what was done live, in-person, before the pandemic has since gone virtual. But spinning, …

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currents

Wheeling from the pandemic

Welcome Catskill CycleWorks

Posted

JEFFERSONVILLE, NY — Spinning is out; cycling is in. Thanks to a coronavirus pandemic paradox, much of what was done live, in-person, before the pandemic has since gone virtual. But spinning, that virtual exercise based on cycling, has gone live.

Alas, just as people are rediscovering the joys of biking through the great outdoors, pandemic-related supply chain interruptions have made it all but impossible to find a working bicycle. Bicycle racks in big box stores were depleted by late spring. Compounding the problem, the only bike shop in western Sullivan County closed its doors forever: The Cosmic Wheel in Callicoon went out of business in August when its owner, operator and chief mechanic, Tom Lasher, died unexpectedly.

Fortunately, husband-and-wife team Kelly Lawler and Jon Thorndike stepped into the breach. Their new full-service (sales, service and repairs) Jeffersonville bike shop, Catskill CycleWorks, opened in mid-December. “We wanted to open off-season,” said Lawler. “First, because routine bicycle repair and maintenance is normally done in winter. Second, because it gives us a few months to introduce ourselves to the community and work out last-minute bugs before cycling season begins.”

The couple fell in love with the area while staying at a friend’s home in Callicoon Center. They knew they wanted to live here, but it wasn’t until a sharp realtor found them an ideal house in Lake Huntington that the dream became reality. Now here 10 years, they consider themselves “locals” and have gradually increased their investment in the community until it includes even their livelihoods.

Originally a motorcycle mechanic, Thorndike is an avid cyclist who decided to turn his hobby into a business. He and Lawler want everyone to have access to the sport of cycling. Among the store’s small but growing inventory, they carry a half dozen tiny bicycles, so low to the ground that they look like they were designed for toddlers. Turns out, they were.

“They’re called ‘balance bikes,’” said Lawler. “As soon as a child can walk, [s]he can pedal. They learn to ride on these bikes, then progress to the next larger size, bypassing altogether the need for training wheels.”

Thorndike promises that among the bikes, biking gear, apparel and accessories geared toward hardcore upscale cyclists, there will be one-speed cruisers (hopefully, with coaster brakes) for the occasional cyclist, the older cyclist and the less affluent cyclist.

“We want to promote the sport as a multigenerational activity for families and community members to enjoy together,” said Lawler. “When the weather breaks, we’re planning to host rides of varying distances, some appropriate for families with young children, and some more ambitious rides appropriate for well-conditioned athletes of all ages.

“We also hope to partner with local bike clubs and organizations that promote outdoor activities and provide sponsorship of bike paths. We already have plans to display in our showroom a whiteboard magnetic map of local bike trails,” added Lawler.

The store’s main supplier will be Giant Bicycles (www.bit.ly/giantbicycles05), a full-spectrum bicycle manufacturer that offers road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, electric bikes and a line of bikes (Liv) designed specifically for women.

“Obviously, we don’t have enough space to carry the perfect bike for everybody,” says Thorndike. “We expect people to tell us what they’re looking for in a bike, so that we can point them in the right direction and give them some options from which to choose.”

As customers are learning which bike is best for them, they’ll have the benefit of a large parking lot in which to test-drive bikes. “We’ve also got a big hill [on Schoolhouse Road] to check out mountain bike performance and transmission capability of multi-speed bikes,” says Thorndike.

Catskill CycleWorks is located at 4920 (Route 52) Main St., opposite The Tavern and 52 & Vine, in what was formerly an antique shop and, before that, an auto parts store. Lawler and Thorndike acknowledge that pandemic supply chain interruptions continue to plague the industry, temporarily limiting their ability to carry a sizable in-store stock of bicycles. But, they say, that is expected to change over the coming year.

What is not likely to change, even if the pandemic ends in the next six months, is America’s new-found love affair with the bicycle, and the thrilling, picturesque terrain available to Catskills cyclists.

Catskill CycleWorks can be reached by phone at 845/482-2431 or by email at info@catskillcycleworks.com.

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