With the return of longer days and warmer temperatures, some may be looking to try new activities and explore new things this spring and summer.
The Bonney Lake Bicycle Shop of Sumner offers free bike rides every Saturday morning from the store, rain or shine.
“It’s a great way for people to come out and learn some safe routes,” said bike shop manager Paul Qualey Jr. “It also helps people learn cycling etiquette.”
The bike shop, 1406 W Main St., originally opened in 1991 in Bonney Lake by Qualey’s father, Paul Qualey Sr.
“My dad has always loved business, and my cousin was a cyclist so it seemed like a good fit,” Qualey Jr. said.
Qualey Jr. has worked at the family business for 12 years, ever since he was 18.
The weekly bike rides from the shop began six years ago, and ever since, a group of dedicated riders meets ride leader, mechanic and bike salesman Alan Beard at the shop and the gang hits the roads or the trails. The rides typically last from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m., which Beard says is roughly enough time for 20 to 25 miles.
The come-at-any-ability mentality of the rides means that if an inexperienced rider shows up, the group will take an easier route.
“If more experienced riders show up, we will do some hills,” Beard said. “If anyone shows up, I ride. We don’t drop anyone; we all keep up with the slowest person.”
The no-drop mentality of the Saturday morning rides means Beard and Qually try to make the rides a fun time for all.
“Alan makes it a good ride for all abilities,” Qualey said. “It’s a no-drop ride, so nobody gets left behind. It’s a good experience for everyone.”
Picking a different bike route would seem to be a challenge, but with so many trails around it’s easy to pick the ride of the week, Beard said.
“We have a few rides that we do pretty regularly, like out to Orting,” he said. “Then there’s a farm loop that we go along on a road that’s no cars, so it’s a real nice loop. There’s so many trails around us. Finding different ways to link them together — that’s one of the things we do on our Saturday rides.”
The ex-Boeing computer programmer turned bike shop employee commutes from his home on Lake Tapps to the shop.
“There was one year that I rode pretty much every day,” he said. “I put 5,000 miles in that year.”
While Beard used to be a dedicated runner, after bouts with some nagging calf and ankle problems, the switch to cycling has been nothing but fun and exercise.
“I get exercise, I get some fresh air, and I get to show people new routes, how to get to the different trails, and how to ride safely on the roads,” he said. “Getting out in the fresh air, you get alongside the roads and you can smell the blackberries, it slows everything down. People always seem like they have to get somewhere in a hurry in their car, but on the bike it’s slowed down, you can see more things.”
The seasoned rider says the key to going back to most people’s childhood pastime is to just get back on the back and start pedaling.
“We take people on different routes, and they say, ‘Wow, I never knew this was here,’” Beard said.
For more information on the Saturday bike rides, call (253) 862-2556.