Riding a bicycle is a skill we learn as kids and can continue to utilize and explore as we grow up. Like learning to read or write, teaching your kids to ride a bike is teaching them a skill that can be used throughout their lives for exercise, a means of transportation, or pure enjoyment.
We had the opportunity to talk with George, owner of Pocono Bike Company, to find out the best way introduce or explore biking. The first step? Have fun!
Q. Tell us about yourself and how Pocono Bike Company was born.
A. My parents came to this area from their homeland of Greece in 1973. I was born and raised in the Poconos but still held onto my Greek heritage. I have always felt particularly grateful for the people in the Poconos and the community here. I played several sports while growing up but fell in love with cycling at a young age. In my late 20s, I was working many hours a week. It did not allow for much time to do anything else. Because of some health issues I was having, I decided to make a lifestyle change and started riding a bike again. I was able to lose a bunch of weight and did not have to take medications any longer. For the last several years I have been riding my bike approximately 4,000 miles per year. It has helped me in so many ways. Aside from physically, it’s helped me emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I’ve also made many close friends in the area because of cycling.
Around March of 2017 my good friend Danny Brennan called me to get some business advice. Danny was managing a bike shop in New Jersey and had extensive bike shop experience. He had his own bike shop in New Palms, New York for nearly a dozen years. His shop, The Bicycle Depot, is still a viable business in the downtown district there.
Danny sold his business to come to this area for the love of his life and was looking to do something different. I pitched him the idea of opening up our own bike shop in downtown Stroudsburg. Everything moved pretty quickly, and we opened up the Pocono Bike Company in July 2017.
We are a full-service bike shop and can accommodate everyone’s cycling needs. Whether it’s kids learning how to ride a bike, adults wanting to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, or bike racers, we do it all.
Q. Riding a bike is an important part of being a kid. At what age do most kids begin to learn and on what type of bike?
A. This question can be answered a lot differently now than it was even a handful of years ago. With the introduction of Strider Bikes, I have seen kids learn how to use a pedal bike as early as two years old! Strider Bike is a bicycle without pedals. The child sits on the bike with his hands on the bars and walks along with the bicycle. Eventually the child is able to lift his feet up and learn the key aspect of balance.
I must say, it is very unusual to see someone so young learning how to ride a bicycle. If parents take the more conventional approach by teaching a kid how ride a bike with training wheels first, I would have to say the typical age to learn how to ride a bike will be between six and eight years old.
Q. What tips would you give any adult trying to help a kid learn to ride?
A. The first aspect of teaching kids how to learn to use a bicycle is by showing them how fun it is. When they see their parents and/or friends riding bikes, they are more likely to want to learn how to ride a bike. The first step should be to introduce them to the sport at a young age.
I took the old-school approach with my three daughters and taught them on bicycles with training wheels. I would tell my kids that there are two aspects of learning how to bike: the first is how to pedal, and the second his balance. When they were good at pedaling around, I would, in essence, turn their bikes into strider bikes by taking the petals off. I told them that they had to learn the balance aspect of riding a bicycle. After practicing for about an hour or two, I was able to put the pedals back on, and they were pedaling pretty easily. They all learned how to ride a bike that way within just a few hours.
Note: I always recommend using this approach if your kid was riding a bike with training wheels. If you do decide to take the pedals off the bicycle, remember that the pedals on the non-drivetrain side (the side of the bicycle that doesn’t have the chain) is reverse threaded.
Q. What should people look for when buying a bike for a child or for themselves?
A. Safety is the number one concern. For you to be safe on the bike, the bike needs to be assembled and perform perfectly. It can be very dangerous if the bike is not assembled properly, or it could take the fun out of riding a bike. For instance, we’ve had many bicycles come in where the brake is dragging on the wheel. This makes it much more difficult to ride a bike, and typically the user will not have a good time on that bike. We’ve also had bikes come from box stores that were assembled incorrectly, like the forks being on backwards. This can make riding a bike very dangerous.
Regular maintenance, such as cleaning your chain and inflating your tires, is paramount.
Another key factor is bicycle size. Riding a bike that is too big can be very dangerous, and riding a bike too small is both difficult and bad for your joints.
Another point to make is using the right bicycle for the kind of riding you are planning on doing. There are so many different kinds of bikes out there nowadays. Having the right bike for your intended use is important. If you are planning on using your bike on the road but you’re riding a mountain bike, it wouldn’t be as enjoyable if you are riding a bike that was intended to be used on the road.
Q. Can you find bikes and accessories for all ages at Pocono Bike Company?
A. Absolutely! We have a huge selection of accessories at our store. Our number one accessory is a helmet. Everyone riding a bike should be using a helmet. We have a number of different helmets to suit everyone’s needs, from kid and adult helmets to full-face helmets for downhill mountain biking.
Helmets are a must, but research has showed us that blinking lights are the best way to avoid an accident from happening. The best way to avoid being hit by a motorist is to be seen by that motor us. Blinking lights in the front and the rear of the bike have proven to prevent that from happening. If you are riding on the road, I strongly recommend using blinking lights whenever you’re on your bicycle.
Q. Does Pocono Bike Company do bike maintenance, too?
A. Yes, we are a full-service bicycle shop. We do everything from repairing flats to performing tuneups, replacing parts, and assembling bikes for our customers.
Q. You also hold events and weekly rides, correct? Tell us about them.
A. Riding a bike is always more fun in a group. It is also safer to ride your bike with others. We have many rides to suit all kinds of cyclists. We offer beginner rides that coach people on how to shift their bikes, fast pace group rides, and beginner and extreme mountain bike rides. All are typically hosted right from our shop.
Q. What’s the best way to find out about upcoming events?
A. Rides are posted on our Facebook page, or you can come and meet us at our shop. We would love to tell you about them!
Q. What is something special you would like our readers to know about Pocono Bike Company?
A. We believe in building a stronger community. A portion of each of our bike sales goes to one of three charities that the customer selects from. Those three charities are: Valor, Pocono Alliance, and AWSOM. We also support the local bike club financially by offering a portion of our helmet sales to the Pocono Bike club.
The Poconos are a beautiful region. Riding a bike around these rolling hills can be breathtaking, both literally and figuratively! For those who are intimidated by those hills, a new segment of bikes have been released called pedal assist bikes. These bicycles have electric motors to assist you up those difficult hills. The bicycles do not have a throttle; they are not a motorcycle. You still have to pedal, so you get a work out but it’s a little bit easier.
Pocono Bike Co.
601 Main Street • Stroudsburg, PA