By Honey Murray
Randy Martin never considered going to medical school, but every day, for the past 26 years, he has donned crisp, blue surgical scrubs, driven his white van with ambulance strobe flashers and helped make hundreds of people of all ages feel healthier and happier as the owner of The Bicycle Doctor in Hazel Park.
In 1989, after years of working in Detroit area bike shops, Martin bought a van and started his own business, becoming the Bicycle Doctor, repairing bikes throughout Oakland County.
“I realized it was a great way to help families right in their own driveways,” Martin said. “Customers make appointments and, unlike the family doctor, I never keep them waiting.”
“I arrive with my ambulance lights flashing, ready with my black medical bag and stethoscope, which is a modified tire gauge. And any repair I can make in the shop, I can easily do from the van, too.”
The hospital gift shop
Martin, 53, purchased the Continental Bike Shop shop on John R. in 1996. The recently-renamed store boasts an Emergency Room (in-house service department), a Hospital Gift Shop (parts and accessories) and a Neonatal Unit (new bicycles).
There are brands and styles of bicycles for every type of rider, including Bianchi, Giant, KHS, Electra, Lynskey and Waterford.
The Bicycle Doctor carries kids’ bikes, road bikes, tourist bikes, hybrids, cruisers, mountain bikes, flat-bar road bikes, adult tricycles and dual-sport bikes.
“You really have to know what you’re actually going to use the bike for,” Martin said. “We don’t oversell you. We try to listen to your needs and fill those needs properly.”
Martin’s business philosophy also includes, in addition to making a little bit of money to live on, being fair and helpful — and having fun.
“What’s fun for me,” Martin explained, “is seeing a kid getting on his first bicycle or an 80-year-old stopping in to tell me about his rides and that he feels like a kid again. That’s what makes it fun for me.”
The neonatal unit
The Bicycle Doctor also provides many opportunities for customers to have fun, in the store and on the road.
“On Wednesday evenings when the weather is good and above 60 degrees, we have what we call casual or slow-roll rides,” Martin said. “We ride in the area from 6:30 until 8 p.m., and then we go to dinner together. It’s a very relaxed way to ride with a group, get exercise and enjoy the local scenery.
“On Friday nights we have a higher-paced road bike ride into Detroit, and we find a different, unique place to eat there. Since we ride until 10:30 or 11 p.m., all bikes on these Friday night rides must have the proper safety lights.”
When the weather is not favorable for riding, The Bicycle Doctor shows in-store movies on Friday evenings and holds trainer classes on Wednesday evenings. A trainer is a stand that the bike is attached to, allowing for riding or training in place.
The Bicycle Doctor also offers basic and advanced maintenance classes, and personal fittings are available for every bike that is purchased.
“In addition to finding the right frame size for you,” Martin said. “We position the seat, brake levers, handlebars and shifters — all to make sure that you are comfortable and feel safely in control. This is something that department stores don’t do. A bike from a department store might last a season. From a store like ours, and when serviced, they can last for years and even maintain great resale value!”
One of The Bicycle Doctor’s most memorable fittings was from a married couple who wanted to incorporate bicycling into their weight-loss program.
“They each purchased an Electra Townie, a fun and easy bike to ride with wide tires and a plush saddle,” Martin said. “Several months later, the woman came into the store, and I didn’t recognize her. She had lost 150 pounds. Her husband had lost 80 pounds. Bikes can be a lifestyle changer.”
The March 16, 2014 issue of Health and Wellness Digest listed a number of ways that cycling improves health. One benefit listed is that cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise since it can be done almost anywhere and at any time, with little risk of physical — or financial — strain.
The article explains that, though cycling strengthens leg muscles, burns calories, builds stamina and improves coordination, it also greatly improves the mobility of hip and knee joints and increases cardiovascular fitness (by 3 to 7 percent for those who bike daily) and reduces stress.
In addition to overall heath, the team at The Bicycle Doctor is very concerned about the obesity of today’s kids — as well as adults.
“I love it when parents come in to buy for their kids. This Christmas, a family bought bikes for their four children, ages six through 11 “It’s a fantastic way for kids to feel great and keep in shape – and a real stress reliever for all ages!”
In addition to providing opportunities for fitness and recreation, a bicycle can be a very economical and pleasant mode of transportation, and one that does not have a negative effect on the environment.
According to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey, 40 percent of daily trips are shorter than two miles. The survey also states that one in 12 households does not have an automobile, and 13 percent of people 15 years and older do not drive.
Ferndale mom Kristi Soave smiled as she related her visit to The Bicycle Doctor.
“I took my daughter, Stephania, and her bike to see The Bicycle Doctor because the bike had a broken brake lever,” Soave said. “Randy was dressed in scrubs and remarked on the bike’s ‘broken arm.’ I agreed, and then I pointed to a disconnected cable … and a torn ligament, also.”
“We keep the bikes rolling, for basic transportation, for health, and for pleasure,” Martin said. “We keep records on all of our ‘patients,’ the bikes we take care of. One of the things that sets us apart is that we test ride everything we repair. When it’s fixed, it’s really fixed.
Whether I’ve made a house call or the ‘patient’ has been brought to our shop on John R., the Bicycle Doctor is always in.”
The Bicycle Doctor 248-584-3060 Doc@thebicycledoctors.com 24436 John R. Road Hazel Park, MI 48030
–This blog originally appeared on localbusinessnews.net