ROCHESTER — Hauling four bikes into a bike shop to get fixed can be an infuriating and annoying task.
So, Charly Tri has changed the game. He grew up working on bikes. He’s been around them basically his whole life. So forming, ‘My Bike Guy’ made all the sense in the world.
Instead of staying in a bike shop and forcing customers to bring the bikes to him, Tri decided to take the shop to them. Tri speeds around the Rochester area and brings the bike shop to his customer’s houses. They don’t even have to come out of their house.
It’s convenient. It’s easy. And Tri embraces the nearly 12-hour workdays that he puts in.
“I have a lot of fun because I get to drive around the city and everyone is usually happy to see me,” Tri said. “If you ever work in retail, a lot of people hauling in their bikes are huge pains in the butts. To have me show up and get it done, some of them feel like it’s cheating the system to have me come out. They can even just give me a garage code, and I can get it done and they didn’t have to do anything.”
Many small businesses have been hit with a tidal wave with the stay-at-home order that Minnesota is under. But Tri has seen a surge in business. His wait list has ballooned to three weeks, and he’s been able to adhere to every social distancing guideline.
"I avoid shaking hands, and I’m naturally six feet apart from people all the time,” Tri said. “I’m sterilizing bikes now which is easy to do. Instead of taking credit cards on-site, I’m emailing invoices that people can pay online. It’s pretty conducive for our environment right now.”
With many people sequestered at home, there have been plenty more people finding unique ways to stay active. Tri has been finding a new trail to hike once a week. Others have decided to grab their bikes and hit the road. That leads to more bikes for Tri to work on.
“When people walk into a traditional bike shop, the first thing they do is grab that door handle," Tri said. "Then, they start thinking, ‘Oh, do I need to sterilize myself after that?’ With me, people don’t even have to be home for me to do my work."
The plan was for My Bike Guy to add a second van to the rotation, but COVID-19 has forced Tri to hold off on those plans. Currently, Tri is flying around completing four to eight appointments per day. The days are long. But fixing bikes is rewarding for Tri.
“It’s a lot to keep up with, but the good thing is that I’ve been working on bikes for 25 years,” Tri said. “It comes second nature to me. I can talk to customers and work on bikes at the same time. You do anything for 3,000 hours, you become a master at it. I’ve gotta have 3,000 hours. I think I put about 3,000 last year.”