Bikes Unlimited: When Community Meets Cycling

by | May 2024

ACCORDING TO Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, Lynchburg is home to one of the most unique urban trail systems in the state. Part of the James River Heritage Trail system, Lynchburg’s trails are a diverse network that passes through natural areas and the heart of the city’s historic downtown. There is a ton to explore, including 40 miles of trail that boasts five paved trails and a multitude of natural single-track trails. 

While you can hike or walk, one of the best ways to enjoy the myriad of trails in Lynchburg is by bicycle. Bicycles allow riders to take in all the sights of both nature and downtown Lynchburg. While you may not own a bike, that needn’t stop you. A long-time downtown business, Bikes Unlimited, has got you covered. 

In the business of bicycles since 1967, John Seinar and his staff know a thing or two about getting folks rolling on two wheels. Bikes Unlimited offers the latest cycling products and services. The business also rents bicycles to both locals and visitors, including electric, e-bike, and mountain e-bike rentals. Taking ownership in 2020, Seinar understood the history of the shop and wanted to continue to share the love of cycling with customers. 

Seinar explained, “I started in 2009 and worked here during college. I fell in love with the area and the shop. It’s been a great bike shop for a lot of years. I always knew I wanted to own a shop like this. They say, ‘Don’t turn your hobby into your work,’ but cycling was a tangible way that I could do that. It’s a healthy thing. It’s a community-oriented thing. 

“My favorite part of owning a business is the community aspect of it. Partnering with people in the community and helping other businesses thrive within our business is what it’s about. We find strategic partnerships where we can help our business grow and provide a unique opportunity or event for both locals and visitors and the people who live in Lynchburg and then partner with somebody.” 

Seinar is building those partnerships through events such as Cycling Without Age. Cycling Without Age offers safe rides on a trishaw — a special bicycle that allows a volunteer peddler to transport one to two people in the front seat of the bike. The program is about helping older people participate, meet people, and remain an active part of their communities. Volunteers sign up to “pilot” older people and are trained to incorporate the program’s principles: generosity, storytelling without age, slowness, and relationships. Seinar also states that it’s about reaching people from all different walks of life. 

“One minute, you’re working with somebody that might not have the means to pay for a flat tire, and then the next, you’re selling a bike to a CEO of a billion-dollar nuclear company,” said Seinar. “Anybody and everybody that comes through the door is treated with the same level of respect and dignity.” 

Of course, there is also what keeps Seinar in business — the wonderous trails that encompass Lynchburg. 

“The trails are incredible down here,” he said. “There are two trail systems, the Blackwater Creek Trail and the Percival’s Island Trail. We are located at the start of both. When I commute to work, I could be having the worst morning, and I just hop on my bike, take my kids to school, and then I can ride some of the single tracks or the paved trails, and it revitalizes my whole day. The trails are a huge part of my life.” 

When it comes to bicycles, Seinar said there is no excuse not to hop on and enjoy an adventure. 

“‘No excuses’ is kind of our tagline,” he said. “It’s so multi-faceted. There’s no excuse that you can give me not to put you on a bicycle. Whether it’s an issue of money, skill, or fitness level, I have a rebuttal to every single one of those to help you get on the path to cycle. We’ll do whatever we can to try to help people — no excuses.” GN 

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