Why winter is a great time to visit your local bike shop

Don't wait until Thanksgiving to fix your oven, or until spring to fix your bike. In winter, shops can turn around repairs/tune-ups fairly quickly, assuming parts availability. Lousy weather is when to pay your local bike shop a visit.

Sixteen Chicago area shops surveyed reveal tune-ups now are measured in days, with over half reporting one to three days for turnaround. Once spring approaches, days can become weeks.

Typical is Jeff Provisor's response, owner of Carpentersville's Main Street Bicycles: "Currently, our tune-up time is one to two days on average bikes. Last season when March hit, as the month went on, we got pushed out several weeks plus, staying that way most of the summer."

Nearly 40% of shops mentioned winter tuneup programs, specials or discounts. Service manager Brett Dightman points out that Evanston Wheel & Sprocket "is running our 'love your bike' special, including discounts on labor, until the end of February."

Of course, specials intentionally generate more bike repairs, but they only extend turnaround time a few days, not weeks.

Liam Doyle, service technician at Winfield's Prairie Path Cycles said, "Now is definitely a great time to come out and get your bike tuned. We currently have 48-72 hours turnaround for standard tuneups, as we are in the middle of a service special until the end of the month."

Some shops add techs

Jeremy Lamb, Crank Revolution's owner in Hoffman Estates, mentions both a basic tune and pro tune as winter specials with 24-48 hours turnaround.

"As we get closer to the season we increase staff to keep it about 72 hours. Many shops end up being one to two weeks for a tune-up in season."

Other shops also hire more mechanics as needed. The Bike Rack owner Hal Honeyman in St. Charles said, "Just added two more bike techs who will only work on tuneups, stowed away in back with no interruptions" from customers.

Honeyman offers subtlety in discussing service turnaround time.

"We always have room in the system for customers who ride daily or have trips planned. We can also reserve a spot so the bike is in and out same day."

Translation: Make friends with your local bike shop.

International Women's Day rides

Cyclists from the Trek Bicycle Store of Highland Park Women's Group stop at women-owned Stompin' Ground Cafe in Lake Zurich on 2021's International Women's Day Together We Ride. Courtesy of Sheri Rosenbaum

The third annual International Women's Day Together We Ride event spans March 5-8 with multiple Chicago area activities scheduled.

Elmhurst Bicycle Club (EBC) hosts its 25-miler on Saturday, March 5, led by Kelli Morgan, newsletter editor and ride leader. Cyclists will assemble at 10 a.m. behind Whole Foods on West Avenue and pedal to Wheaton's My Half of the Sky, a social justice coffee shop.

In its third year, Morgan notes it'll definitely be a mixed group.

"We have lots of riders that support each other and lots of men who want more women to ride."

Morgan said there is no need to register. "Just give me a heads-up, as I am working on giveaway goodies."

Everyone is welcome at Fox Valley Bicycle and Ski Club's event Sunday, March 6, the club's second IWD ride. The 50K (31 miles) no-drop outing starts at 9 a.m. from Batavia River Walk's parking lot.

Sheri Rosenbaum, leader of Trek Bicycle Store of Highland Park Women's Group, will organize a 10 a.m. March 5 ride from the shop, plus a 6 a.m. Zwift ride March 8 on International Women's Day.

A global movement

Not just local rides, IWD's "Together We Ride" involves impressive global participation. 2021's ridership increased from 18 states to 33 and from four countries to 11 from its debut.

Lombard physical therapist, long-distance cyclist and EBC member Dawn Piech founded this event in 2020.

"I'm overwhelmed at how it has taken off, not just locally, but globally. In 2021, mid-pandemic, we nearly tripled participation. As the world embraced cycling as a healthy, safe way to enjoy the outdoors, our empowerment peloton grew to almost 800 cyclists worldwide," said Piech.

As a board member of Randonneurs USA, dedicated to unsupported endurance cycling, Piech is promoting long-distance rides across the country. This year, 16 regions will host 22 IWD events with lengths ranging from 100K to 400K (62 to 248 miles).

2021 Grand Illinois Bike Tour rider crossing the Lockmann Road bridge on the Madison County Trails. Courtesy of Ride Illinois

All event participants are encouraged to share their ride summaries and photos on the Facebook Public Group (International Women's Day Together We Ride Bike Ride), Instagram (#togetherweride1) and Twitter (@TogetherWeRide3).

The IWD Together We Ride event is the initial activity involved in Inspyrd Movement™, a volunteer-driven, 501(c)(3) organization, also founded by Piech.

Dedicated to inspiring individuals to elevate diversity, equity and inclusion, it advocates for positive social change by creating a more equitable world through movement.

Cycling shorts

Warmer times beckon. If, like me, you're dreaming of future adventures, consider the June 12-17 Grand Illinois Bike Tour. Limited to the first 250 registered riders, it's already two-thirds full.

Sponsored by Ride Illinois, the statewide, nonprofit bike advocacy organization, GIBT 2022 starts and ends in McLean County's Comlara Park with camping or hotel overnights in East Peoria, Normal (two nights) and Pontiac (two). As its largest annual fundraiser, GIBT enables Ride Illinois to make Illinois better through biking.

Like past tours, the 19th annual traces generally quiet rural roads and trails. Distances vary daily. Riders choose basic 40-mile routes or longer 50-70 miles.

Registration provides for lodging, breakfasts, dinners, daily showers, luggage transport, emergency SAG support and refreshment stops. Lodging alternatives include city park camping and hotels, which fill up quickly. Visit Ride Illinois for complete details, volunteer discounts and to register.

• Join the ride. Contact Ralph Banasiak at

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.