Ashland is not just bike-friendly — it’s a bike-loving town, as evidenced by the fact that Piccadilly Cycles last year became the sixth bike shop in town and is doing swimmingly, selling lots of standard as well as electric machines.
Located on A Street at 4th Street in the Railroad District, the shop is run by co-owners Blaine Pickett and Gus Janeway, the latter a former winemaker for Roxy Ann Winery and former owner of Velocity Cellars. We interviewed them last week Wednesday, as customers came and went in a steady stream.
What goes on here?
Pickett — We assemble bicycles, make sure they’re working as they should. We diagnose and repair problems on any bike. We sell lots of bags, helmets, gloves, lights. Lights are really big. They make powerful lights now that really illuminate the scene in front of you — and you have to have them at night, front and back, or you get tickets.
You’re busy? You look busy.
Janeway — Very. We did well our first year, from opening in March, and we’re doing better this year. We make lists of things to do today but often we’re too busy selling bikes, which is a good thing.
You have the regular old pedal bikes, starting around $500, and also lots of e-bikes?
Janeway — Electric is huge now. The median is around $3,500.
Pickett — People come in, having just ridden a friend’s e-bike, and start asking all about it. You can see their eyes open up. Some didn’t even know all this existed.
What sells people on e-bikes?
Janeway — The range is 40 to 80 miles, more than most people need around here. One guy just rode one up to Mt. Ashland and back on the dirt Loop Road and only used half a charge. A couple borrowed e-bikes and went to Jacksonville and back and could have turned around and done the trip over.
Pickett — E-bikes really took off about four years ago. It used to be thought of as cheating and I would say, well, if you get in your car and drive to the store, is that cheating? Now they get it. E-bikes are pedal-assist. They only go up to 20 mph, then the motor cuts off. This is so they remain “bikes,” not motorcycles, and you don’t need insurance and license and can still be on bike paths.
You look like you’re having fun here. What’s the philosophy?
Janeway — Rather than competing with all the other shops directly, we focus on being distinct, with the fun of riding a bike, whether it’s electric assist, mountain bike or town bike. “Fun, dependable everyday bikes,” that’s what we call it. It’s going to be fun if it fits your body and personality. If it’s not comfortable, it’s not going to be fun. We work with dependable, reputable brands that are designed, built and engineered to be that way. We tell people you don’t need to be super-heroes, all strong and fit. We make it a point to work with all ages and fitness levels.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.