UNEXPECTED GIFT: December, January and July are typically 99 Bikes Ipswich’s best months as customers spend during the festive and end of financial year periods but results in recent weeks have expert sales assistant state champion track cyclist Byron Davies (right), pictured with Rob Rice, declaring a ‘mini-Christmas.’ 
 Picture: Rob Williams
UNEXPECTED GIFT: December, January and July are typically 99 Bikes Ipswich’s best months as customers spend during the festive and end of financial year periods but results in recent weeks have expert sales assistant state champion track cyclist Byron Davies (right), pictured with Rob Rice, declaring a ‘mini-Christmas.’ Picture: Rob Williams

Families turn to two-wheeled fun

AS coronavirus causes widespread economic turmoil one Ipswich business is bucking the downward trend.

99 Bikes Ipswich has experienced a flood of sales as people look for safe ways to exercise and maximise health following the shutdown of the fitness industry and suspension of sporting competitions Australia wide.

The start of the month looked grim for the East Street-based cycling shop.

As news of the pandemic broke and the toilet paper started to disappear from supermarket shelves, sales evaporated.

With foot traffic almost non-existent for the best part of a week, the business ground to a halt.

99 Bikes Ipswich was staring down the barrel of a substantial loss.

As self-isolation requirements kicked in and the country inched closer to a full-blown lockdown, however, that all turned on its head with a glut of fitness enthusiasts rushing to snap up equipment in response to the closure of gyms and cancellation of all sports.

Store manager Tim Richmond said while he did not want to overinflate gains and the business was by no means 200 per cent up, it had made a significant recovery and stood to post profits comparable with an 'average normal' month.

He said all things considered any business doing OK given the economic crisis gripping the nation was in fact faring reasonably well.

"I wouldn't say it has been astronomically better but we're not doing worse," he said.

"In this economic climate we're pretty chuffed. We're very lucky and we feel lucky. It certainly has been a steady incline in the last week."

Richmond said the dramatic rebound, which had seen every wind trainer at all of the company's locations around the country sold out, occurred as it became clear people needed to find alternatives that would enable them to exercise safely in isolation.

He said cycling also offered participants an opportunity to escape and forget about their problems temporarily, which was vitally important at the moment given the uncertain state of the world and high levels of stress being felt by many community members.

"People who would normally go to the gym can't go, so they're turning to riding bikes," he said. "It's social distancing with fun.

"It's an enjoyable thing to do. You do not have to congregate. You can go for a ride with just your family, be pretty safe and feel good about it. When I'm out in the bush all the worries in the world are gone."

Pedal power is also an extremely economic form of transport.

Richmond said this had been another factor driving sales as commuters looked to downsize and cut costs in the face of economic hardship.

He said the business had also serviced a number of parents looking to occupy and drain energy from their children who were home from school and running amok.

"The (on-site) workshop has been busy as well," he said.

"There are a lot of bikes getting pulled out of sheds."

Ever the realist, Richmond does not expect 99 Bikes to be immune to the wider economic disturbance and he is anticipating a decline in sales.

"It has got to have a ripple effect through everything as more people can't work," he said.

Staff at 99 Bikes Ipswich are armed and ready to assist.

Among the team is current Queensland record holder track cyclist Byron Davies.

Richmond too is a former state champion in mountain biking. The store caters to all ages, skill levels and price ranges.

Richmond said 99 Bikes was adhering to social distancing and implementing strict hygienic practices, with everything sanitised regularly.

He encouraged anyone interested in taking up cycling or who is in need of repairs or an upgrade to head in.

"We've got a good range of products at a great price with great service," he said.

The Bicycle Retailers Group has lobbied the government to ensure bike shops are considered an essential service due to their provision of basic transport and stay open through any lockdown.

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