Dove Mountain retiree Jim Stewart wasn't looking for a bike shop as he rode along "The Loop" bicycle path on the west side. But he was glad he found one.
"The first time I found it, I had a flat tire. Then I looked up, and there was a bike shop," Stewart said.
Bicyclists riding alongside the Santa Cruz River on The Loop can stop for a rest and a snack, as well as bike supplies, at Tucson's Loop Bicycle Shop.
Located at 3201 W. Diamond Street, just north of West El Camino Del Cerro, the shop is accessible from both The Loop and roadways.
Co-owner Michael Wilkinson thought a bicycle shop alongside The Loop would be a great opportunity to promote bicycling and help bicyclists. Wilkinson is manager of Sonoran Landscaping Materials, just next to the bike path.
In the fall of 2011, Wilkinson approached his boss, Sonoran owner Robert McLoy, with the idea and McLoy, also a bicyclist, was enthusiastic. He offered to host the store on his business property and partner with Wilkinson.
The pair set up shop in a metal shipping container, opening in May 2012 with a selection of bike supplies such as tires, apparel, helmets and parts, as well as food items to go. Repair service for minor issues is available, for issues such as flats.
A variety of products from local venders is available, featuring local companies such as Julie Bar, VelociPrints , GoLoco Jerseys, Far End Gear, Casa Kira Designs and Raging Sage Coffee.
A regular customer, Stewart rides his bike from his home in Dove Mountain to the shop at least two times a week - a 30-mile round trip.
"It's a wonderful destination. There is an area where you can sit and rest." Stewart said.
Stewart said for a small shop, it has a great line of tires, energy drinks and other items.
"It's really an ingenious idea," Stewart said.
McLoy said the shop was the first of its kind, because of the location along the trail.
"This is different. You can actually ride your bike in there," McLoy said.
McLoy plans to expand the bike shop by doubling the square footage and tripling the inventory by next fall.
"We haven't really made much money, but we've sure had a lot of fun," McLoy said.
Wilkinson said the shop is almost ahead of its time, since The Loop is not yet completed.
According to the Pima County website, The Loop covers 110 miles of multi-use paths available to bikes, skates, horses or anything without a motor.
When completed, The Loop will connect the Rillito River Park, Santa Cruz River Park and Pantano River Park with Julian Wash and the Harrison Greenway, according to the website.
"We haven't really made much money, but we've sure had a lot of fun."
Robert McLoy, co-owner of Tucson's Loop Bicycle Shop
Find Tucson's Loop Bicycle Shop on Facebook at tinyurl.com/b2qxv2j You can reach the shop at 909-6288.
Ashley Grove is a NASA Space Grant intern at the University of Arizona. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4674.