Throughout most of his life, Tony Mayle only knew about the two wheels of a bicycle.
“I grew up on two wheels,” Mayle said.
It wasn’t uncommon for the Parkersburg, West Virginia native to spend his weekends growing up racing BMX bikes, sometimes three times in one weekend.
“Since the 80s, that’s all I ever did was race bikes,” he said.
Mayle and a couple of friends opened Five Rivers Bike Shop in August in a 1920s era house on West Main Street.
After graduating from high school in West Virginia in 1985, he decided to check the Yellow Pages in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where his grandmother lived during the winter months, to see if he could get employment in any bike shops there.
“For the first year, I lived in an Airstream camper across from the shop,” he said. “I had a bike and skateboard and lived the beach life.”
Mayle decided to move back home and ended up joining the U.S. Army in 1987.
While stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, he bought a bicycle to go around base on since he didn’t have a car. After retiring from the Army in 2015, he came to Morristown where he worked odd jobs and was employed at Morristown-Hamblen High School East until the end of July of this year.
“The job at East allowed me to get into bicycles,” Mayle said. “It got so big that it opened up a job.”
Two friends had started talking to Mayle about opening a bike shop in the area.
“I have a couple of buddies and two separate conversations,” Mayle said. “One wanted me to work a bicycle shop next to his physical therapy place. The other said that he needed me to look at his bike. We threw his bike on the truck. He said that I needed to open a bike shop.”
The second friend gave Mayle the key to the 1920s era house at 910 West Main Street to let him and his wife look at. The two friends, working independently, were directing Mayle to make the move to open the shop.
“The guys knew each other, but they didn’t know they were talking together with me about the shop,” Mayle said.
The shop opened in August and business has been good.
“We opened up August 1 and it’s been great,” he said. “The community has welcomed us. Many have come by and we’ve gotten phone calls saying that they’re glad we’re here. Our social media pages have taken off with sharing our information.”
The closest bike shops are approximately 35 miles away, he said.
“For the Five Rivers community, it’s just a great place to come hang out, check out bikes. We’re fortunate to be here.”
Five Rivers Bike Shop is a veteran-owned business.
“We offer a full-service shop,” he said. “We can do anything you want done with a bike. We treat the retail store bikes as well as the $5,000 carbon bikes. Every bike is important to somebody, so we try to provide the community good service, take care of the bikes and keep you going on two wheels.”
Even though the 10-speed bicycles are the most popular, the classic one-speed bikes still get the same attention at Five Rivers.
“I’ve got one on the rack,” he said. “As long as we can get parts for something we can certainly service them. I call it bringing it back to life.
There are a lot of bikes that stand out that Mayle had helped bring back to life.
“One includes a Mardi Gras bike for a young lady,” he said. “One of the local basketball coaches has a road bike that he rode all throughout college. He wrecked it many years ago. He is now a basketball coach at one of the high schools and I brought it back to life for him. It sat outside for many years. He recently rode with us on that same bike.
“We’re still crawling with this,” he said. “We order what we think we might need, but we’re really waiting on the community to let us know what they’d like so we don’t spend our money in the wrong place.”
There are so many genres of bikes, Mayle said.
“There are mountain bike groups,” he said. “We’re going to partner with them to help clean the bike trails. You have your BMX folks, your road folks, your leisure folks who like to get out and ride. There are those who like to camp and ride their bikes. We take care of all these people. Since 1 August, we’ve seen them all in here.”
Mayle helped put together a three-wheel bicycle for a man recently. He also services the three-wheeled bicycles a Lakeway Area plant’s maintenance workers use to ride around inside the plant.
He has not serviced unicycles as of yet.
“No unicycles yet, but I’m sure we can service them,” he said. “We even sold some tubes for a wheelchair. We can get scooter tubes and tires, he said. “Those are different sizes and manufacturers.”