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Smoke drives most, but not all, cyclists off the streets

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 6:15 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - There’s more than blue skies missing from the local landscape these days.

Fewer people out and about, doing the sort of things we expect to see them doing this time of year, including bicyclists. There are fewer to be seen on local streets, an odd absence in a bike-friendly town.

“We’ve got a lot of people that live in the neighborhood and need their bike to commute to work,” says Richard Paul, owner of local bike shop Velo Reno. “And, of course, they are also out there in conditions like this sucking in that smoke.”

That would describe Matthew Moody who has little choice. His bike is his only means of transportation. He rides it to work miles to south Reno every day.

“My throat’s a little bit sore after a ride,” he admits. “If there’s a lot of ash particulate in the air it makes my eyes sting a little bit. But otherwise it’s not super bad.”

His immediate problem is a flat tire which is what brought him to Richard Paul’s shop. It happens a lot both say. Goat heads--those nasty prickly weeds--are an ever present hazard on Reno streets, fully capable of puncturing a bike’s tire and tube. A few minutes in the shop and Matthew is on his way, his eyes and lungs again ready to brave the smoky air.

This should be the busy time of the year for Velo Reno. But the smoke has caused an unseasonal shift in business. There’s been an uptick in the kind products and services most usually wait to seek in winter, stationary trainers, things that allow people to ride their bicycles inside.

Truth be told, smoke wasn’t the first or only challenge for this business.

“Unfortunately we’re still facing a lot of supply chain issues, getting new bicycles in, getting parts to fix people’s bicycles,” says Paul.

And that, of course, is the work of the pandemic. The smoke will clear, not tomorrow or the next day, we’re told, but some day soon. Recovery from the pandemic will take longer.

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