Summer is halfway over but there's still plenty of good riding to be had, and there's no better place than the Colchester Causeway (also known as the Island Line Trail). The causeway, a converted rail trail, is the longest recreation trail in the world over open water that doesn't allow motorized vehicles. The path has a cut for boats to go through about 4 miles from the Colchester end, but a seasonal bike ferry takes riders across so they can continue their ride to South Hero and the islands.
We've been thrilled with how many people have been coming to rent bicycles from us, and this year we've started something new: rentals at Airport Park. Airport Park is the closest location to the causeway to park and ride, and it's a perfect location to start your ride to the causeway, Burlington, or the Champlain Islands. We are set up at the park on Fridays and Saturdays by 10 am and Sundays around noon, and we stay until all the rentals are back for the day, or two hours before we close, whichever comes last. Please be aware that our schedule is weather-dependent; we don't set up at the park if the weather is not conducive to biking (stormy, pouring, or excessively hot). It's a good idea to call ahead to the shop if you aren't sure (802-863-BIKE). So come on down and see us a the park, or stop by the shop across from Dick Mazza's General Store in Colchester, where we rent bicycles on a daily basis.
Well, I think we made it through the winter at last.
A week ago the roads were clear and the bikes had started arriving; then the second biggest snowstorm in recorded history got delivered and we all found ourselves neatly dropped back into the dead of winter! Not that I'm complaining... I love the snow! It's been great to get back out on the skis which I so nearly put away until next fall, but I'll admit my mind was ready for the bikes and my body was really getting used to the warmer temps.
Ah, New England!
Now I am trying to get in as much skiing as I can while this snow is here. I don't think it will be long before we see the lawns and the rocks poking trough and things start to green up all around us! Make the best of what you've got; Alright, I'll try.
Meanwhile, in the shop, the rentals are set to go. Nordic skis and snowshoes. Bikes are in the wings, the glass cabinet is primed to be changed over to a charming bicycle motif. Some new bikes hang waiting. The wrenches are set and ready to work on bikes!
I've kept my hand in the mechanical end of the business this past winter with customer repair work, but also a few personal projects that keep me savvy and satisfied... A classic Robin Hood 3sp that has been converted into a 2-Speed, Kick Back, Coaster Brake commuter; and a Cannondale 26/24 mountain bike that will become my regular mountain bike this year, as soon as it's clear to get out onto the trails again. I'm excited for that!
Lots of people have been asking what we are planning to do for winter. Both Charlie and Rebecca are lifelong nordic skiers (since even before our CHS Ski Team days!), and we are excited to offer a nordic rental fleet by Salomon. We have Salomon Snowscape 7 skis and combi boots for rent by the day, as well as snowshoe rentals and nordic skate rentals (once the bay freezes). In addition, we will continue to rent our fatbikes all year round. Charlie can provide nordic ski tuning services, and we are a drop-off point for alpine ski tuning services. Charlie does a lot of bicycle overhaul and larger service jobs over the winter, and we have the new (first on the market!) Swix HR fatbikes for sale, along with Reid fatbikes. We will be selling Atomic, Salomon, Swix, and Toko skis, boots, bindings, rollerskis, wax, and other gear, as well as Redfeather snowshoes.
We have lots of fall and winter gear coming into the shop, including reflective gear, lights, gloves, hats, bike booties, socks, mits, gaiters, and lots more. Plus, the same bicycle gear and great service you found all summer. As the holidays near, consider stopping down for some stocking stuffers for the biker or skier on your list! We'll be busy! Come check it out.
Our rental bikes are finally here and Charlie is building them as fast as he can! We have hybrid bikes by KHS (the Urban Xcape and UltraSport 2.0), a tandem by Sun (the Brickell), several children's bicycles, a ride-along, and a Specialized fat bike. More are coming, but we are very excited to be able to offer full and half-day rentals within walking distance of the marinas and the Colchester Rec Park. Only a short ride to the bike path and bike ferry. Our rates can be found here, call or stop in!
We thought you might be interested in getting to know our shop owner/mechanic/general guru, Charlie Whitney, a little better!
me: Why did you choose Colchester for your shop?
Charlie: It's my hometown! I could see the need and benefits of a local bike shop for this area.
me: How long have you been working on bicycles?
Charlie: I took apart and put my bike back together at age 12. Professionally I started at a bicycle shop at age 16. I've worked at shops in Burlington, Richmond, Atlanta, GA, Boston and Cambridge, MA, and Lake Placid, NY.
me: What do you hope your patrons notice when they walk into your shop?
Charlie: A friendly, hometown atmosphere. This is their shop, not just mine. I want them to know that here they can find quality service and helpful advice for solving their cycling needs.
me: What about the ski part?
Charlie: We love skis! I've been tuning skis since I joined the CHS ski team in 1985. We will be offering base hand tuning, waxing, and tuning accessories. We will even teach you how to wax your own skis.
me: I'm excited to hear that you will be a rental shop too! What kinds of things will you be renting?
Charlie: Bicycles (fat bikes, hybrids, tandems, and kids bikes) in summer and nordic skis, snowshoes, and fat bikes in winter.
me: What's up with the profile photo? Do you race?
Charlie: The picture is from a practice ride for the Mt. Washington Autoroad Bicycle Hill Climb, which I raced twice. I don't have any bicycle races planned at the moment. I guess I"m more of an enthusiast than a racer, but I've always loved bicycles. In terms of competition, I was always a runner, and also competed in motorcycle trials.
me: What do you ride? What's your favorite bicycle?
Charlie: I love my new fat bike! But I have quite the collection of older "mutts" built of pieces and parts from other bicycles. My favorite is a 1939 Columbia with modern alloy rims laced onto the original hubs. And I still have my first road bike which turns 30 this year and is still my go-to bike. A testament to how long a bicycle can last if you take care of it!
me: Anything else you want your fellow bicycle enthusiasts to know?
Charlie: I'm really looking forward to meeting you all and learning about what you like. Come on in and let's talk bicycles!
Just a few more hurdles to clear and then the shop will truly be live. It's been a bit of a mad scramble from dream to reality, so many things go into opening a business... I really had no idea!
The response from the get-go has been nothing but positive from everyone I've come in contact with. The advice and encouragement from friends, business contacts, family and even strangers have all helped me keep this project moving forward; even when I thought I was in way over my head.
Thanks to all of you! I can't wait to show you the results.