The Bike Shop Celebrates 40 Years in Business
By Richard DuPertuis
Story and Photos by Richard DuPertuis
THIS YEAR, Redding’s South Bechelli source for bicycles and bike service celebrates its 40th year in business. Rex and Pegi Cooper founded The Bike Shop in1978, and today their son Ryan and his wife Tracey continue the family tradition of providing equipment and guidance to those who enjoy rolling down street or trail on a few pounds of steel and rubber.
The younger couple are co-owners who divide the workload evenly. “Ryan’s the mechanic here,” says Tracey. “He builds and fixes the bicycles in the back room, while I do the books.” Both routinely leave their posts to devote their full attention to customers when people come in the door.
This is exactly the way Rex and Pegi ran things from the beginning, and Tracey cites this as a big part of the reason The Bike Shop has run so well for so long. “It’s a big deal to make it for 40 years in a small town,” she says. Ryan adds, “Another reason is because we love what we’re doing.”
“I love seeing that smile on someone’s face when they get back on a bike for the first time in 20 years,” says Tracey.
“We contribute to their health.”
For an example, she steps over to the latest thing in cycling, an e-bike, which assists the rider with electric power generated by pedaling. “This is perfect for people who are overweight, or who can’t make it around the block,” she says. “Now, with pedal assist, they have the option to ride from the Sundial Bridge to the dam and back.”
For further example, a customer walks into the store. He walks past aisles lined with mountain bikes and road bikes, and around the corner to the accessories and the e-bikes. In matter of minutes Ryan has him sitting on a pedal-assist bicycle, while Tracey goes online to find a helmet in his preferred color.
The customer is Mike Ward of Shasta Lake. “I had major heart disease,” he says. “After my second surgery, the bottom third of my heart was badly damaged. That’s when they told me I a had a year to live. That was seven or eight years ago.”
Ward says he survived by changing his lifestyle, becoming a firm believer in good diet and lots of exercise. “I walk 10 to 20 miles a day,” he says. “Now that 20 miles is getting hard on the feet.” He nods at the e-bike, adding, “This is going to be my new hobby.”
Ryan also suffered from heart disease. “When I was born, I had health issues,” he says. “I had open heart surgery at age 2½. I had a four percent chance of survival.”
He grew up wanting to be a doctor. At age 17, he entered ROP training to become a cardiologist. That career pursuit came to a quick halt the day he encountered death. “He was a kid, two years older than me, hit by a drunk driver,” Ryan recalls, a tear in his eye. “He was in a coma. I saw him die on the EKG.”
He diverted to a career in physical therapy. “I always enjoyed the bio-mechanical portion of healing,” he says.
He kept a foot in The Bike Shop, which eventually brought him Tracey. “I came here looking for a helmet,” she says with a laugh. “I flirted with him and there was an immediate spark. I fell in love that day, I think.”
They have two daughters, Jorja, 15, and Sara, 12. The girls help out in the shop today, but earlier in life their time in shop was mainly spent staying out of the way. “Grandma set up the back room with arts and crafts,” says Jorja. “She told us, ‘Don’t you go into the showroom unless your hair is on fire!’”
Sara says her first bicycle was a mountain bike, received around age 4. “I followed the example of the whole family, especially my older sister,” she recalls.
Older sister Jorja greets the next customer, Nena Perry, a Redding physician, here to look for a new mountain bike.
“This is one of the best things in Redding,” Perry says. “It’s the people who make the business, and Ryan and Tracey are kind, conscientious and knowledgeable. They don’t try to talk people into buying something they don’t need.”
She says she doesn’t buy her bikes from big-box stores, adding, “I get to support a family business. That’s what makes it so wonderful. They are part of the community.” •
The Bike Shop
3331 Bechelli Lane, Redding
Hours: 9 am - 5:30 pm Tuesday through Saturday