Written by Steve Ulrich
In a few months, a new business will move to Marietta. Its home will be inside a building that has been vacant for over 30 years. You can’t miss this building when you drive through town. It is directly across the street from the landmark Famers First / First National Bank, and the windows and doors are freshly painted a happy bright orange. , a family owned and run company, will move operations from its current home on the corner of Marietta Avenue and Rohrerstown Road to 101 West Market Street in February 2018.
Co-owner Scott Barrows embraced recumbent (reclining) cycles for 2 good reasons:
1) Because his wife told him to.
2) He was instructed to find a safe way to lose weight other than walking on narrow Lancaster County roadways (refer to reason 1).
Scott’s story is one of inspiration and desperation. His weight was out of control at over 500 pounds. His body, health, and ability to enjoy physical activities was beginning to suffer. He began doing half marathons that required walking dozens of miles per week to train. His knees couldn’t take the strain of extended walking, so he tried traditional bicycling. He describes his traditional bike experience as “wearing a thong with a stick up my butt.”
While traveling for work in Colorado, he spotted a school bus filled, not with kids, but with odd bikes. He had some free time, and booked 2 hours to ride a recumbent cycle in the desert. He was hooked on “riding bent.”
Four years ago, after retiring from over 40 years in the food service industry, Scott took his passion to the next level and started Recumbent Cycles of Lancaster with his wife Diane, who still works at Lancaster General Hospital. They have grown the business considerably and now showcase over 100 bikes in the shop. They specialize in customizing bikes for customers with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, autism, blindness, those who have had strokes and have lost function in their limbs, and those with amputations caused by disease, accident, or service in combat.
When not in the shop, they can be seen at local retirement homes, physical therapy groups, and amputation groups, pedaling for those who can’t pedal on traditional bikes. They pedal with them on tandem cycles (built for two), customized for those who can sit and pedal, or for those in wheelchairs. At the end of the 2017 Historic Marietta Bike Race, you may have seen Scott pedaling around a young man in a wheelchair. That ride brought so much joy to the young man’s life, that he talked about it for weeks stating “it was like flying.”
Scott recently built a tandem bike for a customer who became blind. She now enjoys pedaling with her mother. Their cycle has “trailer” brakes so she can’t accidentally push her mother forward (and out of control) around turns and curves.
One of Scott’s proudest customizations is for a young lady who was once an avid hiker, but had lost all four limbs. With her customized cycle she steers with her shoulders, brakes with her thighs, and peddles with the assistance of automatic shifting. She recently completed a duathlon outside in Reading, enabled by her recumbent cycle.
For you science geeks out there, check this out: According to Scott, traditional bikes put 450 kilograms of pressure on the spine; recumbent cycles only 45 kilograms. That’s magnitudes less pressure resulting in a more pain free ride.
As you might imagine, these cycles are highly sought after. Many customers come from 300 miles away and farther. To continue to spread the word and increase distribution of their life-changing service and product, Scott and Diane have recently been joined by their daughter Sarah who has vast experience in advertising, and their son-in-law Rosie, who is an Apprentice Mechanic.
The commercial retail space will include an indoor riding test track, a handicap accessible elevator, and a ramp leading out of the facility so that customers can easily access the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. The total operation will be 5200 square feet including storage and a workshop. The company has committed to an 8 year lease during which time Marietta will see many happy customers, and hear their stories of how these cycles have changed their lives for the better.
Curious about the history and future of the building? It has housed many businesses including a barber shop, a carpentry shop turned into a funeral home, a shoe store, and a TV repair shop. By the end of 2018 there will be 7 apartments available for rent in the remaining space.