A bike ride on a warm spring day turned into a long trek for Barbara Fritz of Pasco last month when her front tire went flat.
"I was out by Chiawana Park when it went flat, and I live off Road 48, so I was facing a long walk," Fritz said. "And, of course, I didn't have my cellphone with me."
She'd trudged, pushing her bike along, as far as Road 52 when Mike Watkins of Richland pulled up in his red Maita.
"He asked if I was OK and offered to help," she said.
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Watkins explained that he's part owner of RoundAbout Cycling Service, a new mobile bicycle repair business.
Watkins decided to take his bike repair shop on the road because too often the barrier to riding a bike is getting it to a shop for a tuneup or repair.
"People keep putting it off. That's why I learned to do my own repairs and, eventually, ended up working on friends' bikes too," he said.
Watkins packs his tools in his Maita. The repairs he does are specifically designed to not need a large inventory of parts -- though he does have sources for nearly any part for any type of bike.
Watkins quickly spotted what caused the tire on Fritz's bike to go flat -- puncturevine (or goathead) seeds, the bane of bicyclists throughout the Mid-Columbia. Thornproofing is one of the services he offers.
"Flat tires from goatheads are the No. 1 repair I see," he said.
Watkins is an avid biker. His mission is to get bikes out of garages and onto the road, he said.
"It's a great form of exercise, plus there's a nice social element and a family element too. And it's 'green,' it's good for the environment. I really like that aspect," he said.
When Watkins decided to turn his hobby into a business last October, he enlisted help from his wife, Alissa. She's a consultant for small businesses, coaching them, helping them to thrive.
He also recruited a friend, Justin Porter, a fitness professional and experienced cycling coach. Porter is trained to adjust seat height and make other adjustments to optimize a bike's comfort and performance.
Other services offered by RoundAbout Cycling include tuneups for brakes, wheels and derailleurs -- including the chain -- and safety inspections.
Watkins recently discovered a three-inch crack in the frame of one mountain bike he worked on.
"It could have caused a very bad accident. It's very important to do a quick inspection of your bike every time you ride. Check the brakes, the chain, give the bike a quick once-over. It takes about a minute and can save you from an injury," Watkins said.
You can find a checklist on the League of American Bicyclists' website, bikeleague.org.
To contact RoundAbout Cycling Service, call 392-1458 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.roundaboutcycling.com.
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