More than just a shop

North Rim Adventure Sports, Greenline Cycles and AMain Cycling create community for local riders

Brandon Andrews assembles a bike at North Rim Adventure Sports’ service center in downtown Chico.

Brandon Andrews assembles a bike at North Rim Adventure Sports’ service center in downtown Chico.

Photo by Ashiah Scharaga

North Rim Adventure Sports:
178 E. Second St., 345-2453,
Greenline Cycles:
515 Main St., 894-7885,
Search “Chico Seersucker Ride 2018” on Facebook to learn more about the annual spring ride.
AMain Cycling:
2070 E. 20th St., Ste. 100, 966-8941,

‘Get outside’

Last fall, about a dozen Chico mountain bikers drove 100 miles southeast, grabbing their gear and climbing, via shuttle, nearly 8,000 feet into the heart of the Sierra Buttes near Downieville. Brandon Andrews, the group’s leader, smiled while recalling the perfect day: It was a crisp autumn morning, and his first group outing with North Rim Adventure Sports. Though the bikers that day were of varying athleticism, the ride had a great “synergy.”

“You’d have people who’d race down the hill and others who’d trail behind, but we all had the same amount of fun,” Andrews said. “At the end of the day, we were able to just have a beer and talk about this awesome day we had.”

North Rim’s owner, Tyler Schrock, runs the Meet, Shred and Eat group for mountain bikers with Andrews. Though he’s been running the store for only three years, he was an employee for 13 years prior, and the shop’s service center manager.

Since Schrock’s been steering the operation, he’s tried to build upon the store’s foundation, originally laid out by Paul McIntyre and John Alden in 1997, then under the name Bike Lane. During his leadership, the store has honed its bike servicing skills, expanded the inventory and steadily increased the number and variety of free bicycling groups it hosts, with the goal of welcoming bikers of all means and abilities, not just thrill-seeking mountain explorers.

“Whether it’s a leisurely stroll through Bidwell Park or a fast-paced road ride or mountain ride,” Schrock said, the store’s motto is basically: “Get outside.” Schrock wants to see more people hopping on their bikes and connecting with one another by riding together, whether that’s during the shop’s Sunday easy rides, Women on Wheels outings or men and women’s beginner and intermediate mountain and road bike trips. The shop has tried to become “the hub for group rides in Chico,” he said.

The groups, led by employees as well as community members, offer not just adventure, but also a supportive community, said Andrews, who has collected most of his scars from spills on mountain trails. Before he started working at the shop about a year and a half ago, he was exploring alone. Now he has fellow shredders with him on the trail. Taking the lead during outings has helped him learn a lot about his own riding style as well.

“There’s always someone here who can push you or take you to that next level,” he said.

Though North Rim is considered a high-end shop, offering bike brands like Trek, Salsa, Santa Cruz and Giant, it has started offering mid-level models. Keeping in line with Schrock’s goal of welcoming all customers, it sells children’s bikes (including balance bikes, which have no pedals) all the way to high-end mountain and road bikes, and even electric bikes.

“We still want to be on the cutting edge for the road bikes and the mountain bikes, but we want to embrace the families, too,” Schrock said. “We just love to be a friendly place to come.”

A lot of older folks who can no longer drive or don’t get around as easily as they used to have asked about the motorized, battery-powered bikes, which are easier to use than traditional bikes because they aren’t as demanding when it comes to traversing hills and facing headwind.

In an effort to make beginners feel welcome, the store has also started offering roadside training classes that teach bikers basic safety and skills, like how to fix a flat. This year, 100 folks got together to prepare for the Wildflower Century in a training hosted by leader John Wiesinger.

When it comes to the store’s service center, Schrock said he used automotive service centers as inspiration for professionalism and appearance. Employees have developed their technical skills at bicycle repair and mechanical training sessions as far away as Madison, Wisc., and as close as Sacramento. The store is now certified by Trek Bicycle Corp. and Shimano, an international company that manufactures bicycle components. Mechanics have also been trained to work on Bosch electric bikes. “Basically, anything on a bike, we can fix,” Schrock said, “whether that be electronics on an e-bike or suspension on a full-suspension bike.”

The store has always been known for its progressiveness, and that’s something Schrock has continued to embrace: “If there’s something new out there, we’re usually the first ones to jump on it,” he said.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to promoting cycling, and “whatever we can do to keep you on your bike,” Schrock said. “We want to sell you your first bike all the way to your last.”

—Ashiah Scharaga

If you look closely, you’ll find many bicycle-related artistic features in Dax Downey’s Main Street shop, Greenline Cycles.

Photo by Melissa Daugherty

Against the odds

When Dax Downey was preparing to open Greenline Cycles in Chico, he put paper over the windows of the space at 515 Main St. But that made people more curious, and oftentimes, when the door was open, passersby would peek in and ask what sort of business was going in there.

Downey always answered with enthusiasm: “A bike shop!”

The response was nearly always something along the lines of: “Are you serious?”

He understood the skepticism. After all, at the time, about seven years ago, Chico was home to 10 specialty bicycle retailers. That number made him a little nervous, Downey acknowledged, since research indicated a city of this size should support about 2.5 shops.

But after investigating the idea further, Downey learned that Chico is an anomaly when it comes to bicycles. That’s due in part to it being a college town—having a new pool of potential customers arrive each year. But there’s another aspect that helps defy the statistics.

“Chico has an amazing bike culture,” he said during a recent interview at Greenline.

So, Downey decided to go for it—or, as he put it, “listen to my gut and heart and soul.”

It helped that he wasn’t new to the business. In fact, he’d been in it for about two decades—in Oroville, where, back in 1992, he opened his first shop (also called Greenline) at the age of 21. Working in the county seat was great—and the community was supportive—but as the years passed, the business wasn’t growing in a way that would provide the security he needed for his family.

Downey says he always planned to open a location in Chico, where he grew up and worked at a local bike shop, Family Cyclery, back in the 1980s. But by the time he got serious about it, the effort was a “Hail Mary.” He scraped together just enough to open a modest storefront in a small retail space in the building that houses the Senator Theatre.

“If it was any bigger, I couldn’t have afforded paint on the walls,” he quipped.

If it didn’t work out, Downey told himself, he was going to get out of the business altogether. But that was not to be—Greenline was welcomed by the community. Sales were immediate, though it took longer for the service side to catch on through word of mouth from riders. Today, it’s a large portion of the business, Downey said, and he and his five employees take on all sorts of projects, from repair to customization to restoration.

“With my love for bikes and my love for people who love their bikes, whatever you want to do, we’re into it,” he said.

Speaking of love for bikes, Downey is one of the folks who started the popular Tweed and Seersucker rides, where locals get decked out in old-timey attire, many riding vintage bikes, and pedal from Bidwell Mansion to Five-Mile. The next outing is May 6.

Like many of his customers, Downey’s passion for bicycles is a lifelong one.

“I’ve just been nuts about bikes since my earliest memories,” he said.

One of them is of his stepfather taking him to a BMX track when he was 5 years old. Though he already had a bike, that’s when he really caught the bug. “I just remember seeing it for the first time—it was dark, and the stadium lights, and it was dusty, and these jumps. I couldn’t even see where the beginning and end was, and I thought, ‘this is it for me,’” he said.

Eventually, about a year and a half ago, due to the logistical difficulties of maintaining two stores, Downey closed the Oroville shop to concentrate on Chico. Shortly thereafter, after six years in the tiny downtown footprint, the busy shop expanded greatly—taking over the space formerly occupied by Three Sixty Ecotique. Downey noted that he had a lot of help with the effort from employees and friends, including customers who used their skills on many functional and design features—impressive metal and woodwork, and a giant mural.

When asked about the shop’s niche, Downey stopped to contemplate the question. He noted that it carries many styles and brands of bikes, including kids’ models. Adult customers will find everything from $250 everyday bikes to the $5,000 mountain bike displayed in the middle of the showroom. But as one might guess, the city bikes, such as the popular Public Bike brand, are the top-sellers.

Circling back to the question, Downey said it’s important for him to make sure customers, no matter what they ride, don’t feel intimidated.

“I’ve always wanted Greenline to be a friendly place,” he said.

Mission accomplished.

—Melissa Daugherty

Ready to ride

For Casey Dinsmore, getting into road cycling—and even racing—came pretty naturally after buying his first bike at Cyclesport and joining the Wildflower training group run out of the shop.

“For me, I was one of the slowest riders—so, riding with a bunch of people who are faster makes you get faster real quick,” said Dinsmore, who works in Chico State’s Financial Aid Office. “I made some of my best friends in that group. We share that common interest of cycling and we have tons of conversations while pedaling up Honey Run or Table Mountain. Talking helps time go by when it’s a challenging ride.”

Cyclesport, of course, vacated its downtown space about a year ago. But it had been owned by AMain Sports & Hobbies for about three years before that. It’s now AMain Cycling and located in a space appropriately situated next door to The Handle Bar on East 20th Street. In fact, they share a picture window, so bicycle shoppers can drool over the beer cheese and pretzels while a couple sharing a pint can check out the newest mountain bikes on display.

Evan Billman, manager at AMain Cycling, says his shop aims to encourage new riders while offering all the cool new gear—and more advanced organized rides—for the seasoned cyclist.

Photo by Meredith J. Cooper

“There’s really great synergy,” explained Evan Billman, manager at AMain Cycling. Aside from sharing clientele, he said, “Our Tuesday rides are almost always followed by beer and food.”

On Tuesdays, AMain holds beginner instructional road bike rides, meant to get new cyclists comfortable on the road while also teaching group-riding etiquette—such as how to signal that there’s a pothole ahead or that you’re going to pass someone. It’s also a great opportunity for people to get their feet wet in a new sport without a huge investment—Billman said he sees a lot of people rent bicycles from the shop specifically for the ride. If they end up loving biking, then they might buy a bike.

Introducing new riders to the sport that they love is more important to the shop’s staff than making a big sale, Billman said. That’s part of the reason AMain chooses to rent out such a range of bikes—from the cruiser meant for easy rides through town or the park to the super-technical mountain bike that runs $4,000-$5,000.

“We want you to have the same amazing experience we have when we’re out there,” Billman said. “So, to get that experience, you might need a really great bike.”

Dinsmore appreciates that attitude, saying he never feels pressured to buy things when he goes into AMain—though he does, naturally. Going into the shop, he said, is “like a kid going to a toy store where your friends work.”

“It’s just a fun experience going in there,” he added. “I love buying bike stuff—I don’t have kids, so that’s what I spend my money on. There’s always something new, and I’m always needing new gloves or tubes. I like chatting it up with people, talking about your latest ride, it’s just fun.”

In addition to instructional rides for road and mountain bikers, the shop hosts intermediate rides as well as race prep rides. AMain also sponsors men’s and women’s racing teams, as well as individual cyclists. One thing that gives AMain a leg up in the local industry, Billman said, is its 60,000-square-foot warehouse in town, which supplies the company’s online store. For people wanting to get on a specific bike immediately, that same-day access is a plus.

AMain Cycling celebrated its grand opening last weekend (April 21) and sees the new shop—which opened about a year ago—as an opportunity to grow, both as a business and as a cycling community. A big improvement is ample parking, which the downtown space didn’t provide, as well as future development in the complex, which will soon be home to a Holiday Inn Express, and the area, with the nearby Meriam Park neighborhood. And, when it comes to socializing with helmets off, The Handle Bar doesn’t hurt.

“The people who work at the shop hang out at The Handle Bar, so I’ll drop by after work and see who’s there,” Dinsmore said.

—Meredith J. Cooper