As businesses await word from the governor on when some of them might be allowed to reopen, one Marshalltown business is seeing success during the pandemic.

Black Tire Bike Company is open and even with RAGBRAI postponed a year, many Iowans are looking to bicycles as a way to escape the house. Owner Matt Gerstandt says there’s growing interest in children’s bikes, base models — and especially gravel bikes.

“This is a huge aspect of our business that has grown exponentially,” Gerstandt says. “As cars have more screens and this and that where you can get preoccupied, our road riders aren’t feeling quite as safe on the roadways. So what they’re doing is, in the last five years, they’ve started really gravitating towards the 10,000 miles of gravel roads in Iowa.”

Gerstandt says there’s much discussion comparing the current pandemic to the aftermath of the tornado that hit Marshalltown in July of 2018. “After going through the tornado and being significantly impacted with relocating and rebuilding, there is a lot of similarities to this,” Gerstandt says. “I feel for a lot of the restaurants and these other businesses that were forced to close so we are encouraging everyone, take out, do that stuff, support the brothers and sisters in Marshalltown that are struggling or feeling this huge impact.”

As far as the future of the new Iowa’s Ride event, which is slated for mid-July, Gerstandt says it may have an advantage over RAGBRAI, as it would probably attract fewer riders in the first year — though it may still end up being canceled.

(By Ken Huge, KFJB, Marshalltown)