By Kari Smith
Fitness gurus – both locals and visitors to the area – will find no shortage of specialty shops for gear in Lynchburg. Along with offering great product selection, these shops are owned and operated by locals who are passionate about both their sport and their Lynchburg location.
If walking or running is your scene, Riverside Runners (2480 Rivermont Avenue) specializes in footwear, workout attire, and accessories for runners and walkers of any skill level. They are conveniently located near Randolph College and offer in-store or online sales. Their event page is a great resource for finding local events such as races, 5k events, and trail walks.
Jeff Fedorko, a former University of Lynchburg student-athlete, became the store’s owner in 2007. Although he enjoys running (the 5k is his favorite distance), he also organizes and oversees races, including the Virginia 10-Miler – an annual event that brings thousands of casual and competitive runners to the Lynchburg area. Live musicians, DJs, and neighborhood parties are set up throughout the historic course to cheer competitors on throughout the race, which has taken place for over 40 years. Runners are especially excited to hit the course this year (on September 24 – 25) after COVID-19 forced the race to shut down in 2020. Registration opens July 1 – check here for more details. There are also shorter courses available, including a 4-mile walk, and the Amazing Mile Kids Run hosted by Amazement Square children’s museum, so bring the whole family!
Be sure to visit the store before race day for a customized shoe fitting! Riverside Runners also boasts a community locker area, where runners can safely store belongings while utilizing nearby trails, and a “cool-down zone” with water and an icemaker.
Prefer your workout on wheels? Check out Scene3 boardshop (1107 Main Street) in historic downtown Lynchburg, which began as a skateboard, snowboard, and bicycle shop in 2001. This specialty shop has access to hundreds of brands and can order parts that are not in stock at no additional charge. “You don’t have to be in a big city to reach a global market,” owner Jeff Gray said. “We ship orders all over the world, and everything is made in our shop located in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia. Lynchburg has a thriving arts culture, and is very supportive of the maker community.”
Jeff’s love of skateboarding began as a child. “My parents helped us build a halfpipe skateboard ramp when I was 12. We were always building launch ramps, quarter pipes, and other obstacles,” he says. That passion continues to this day, but has taken a creative twist. As Jeff’s business grew, he realized how many used and broken skateboard decks he was discarding, and in 2012, he decided to bring new life to these materials. He has combined his passion for skateboards, design skills, and desire to keep broken skateboard parts out of landfills and turned them into an Etsy store full of unique, upcycled gifts. Beautifully handcrafted wallets, keychains, pencil holders, laptop stands, and more – are all meticulously crafted from repurposed skateboard parts.
In the midst of a pandemic, many folks discovered a newfound desire to get outdoors and began to exercise – especially forms of exercise that could be done alone. The Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skate Park has been a convenient stop for many skateboarders, including Jeff himself, who often rides his bike to work using the Blackwater Creek bike path, with a stop at the skate park for a quick session before work.
The shop has over 60 skateboard decks to choose from, and offers most of their skateboard items for sale online. In fact, increased online shopping over the last year has allowed for Scene3 to reach a larger market – not only for skateboards and bikes, but for their upcycled skateboard items as well. For locals, Scene3 also offers a mobile bike repair service. (Call or email to schedule a time.)
Like all businesses, Bikes Unlimited (1312 Jefferson Street) has had to rise to meet challenges caused by a pandemic, but they are still safely providing Lynchburg cyclists with bike sales and rentals. Despite reduced hours to complete bike repairs, they still operate currently from Tuesday – Friday 10am – 6pm, and Saturday from 10am to 5pm. (Check current store hours before visiting.) In addition to renting bikes, they are offering curbside service as well as home delivery or curbside service on some bikes. They are also meeting demand by using video conferencing to show and sell bikes virtually.
Bikes Unlimited owner and general manager John Seinar’s passion for cycling began as a young child working at a bike shop in Michigan. He moved to Virginia in 2009 to attend Liberty University and began working at Bikes Unlimited. Although he later moved away to Raleigh, he loved the Lynchburg area so much that he returned, and became the owner of the shop. He is constantly looking for ways to keep the cycling community riding, including the current BU Strava Segment Challenge Series. These rides allow the riders to still “come together as a community”, by completing a series of timed rides alone. The rider who wins each of 16 segments is gifted a prize from one of the race’s sponsors, and riders who complete every segment also win a prize.
If you need a bike for the annual Storming of Thunder Ridge ride through the hills of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Bikes Unlimited has you covered! The annual ride has a variety of long-distance options ranging from 27 to 100 miles and supports the Community Support Campaign of the YMCA of Central Virginia. If you are looking for a more leisurely ride, rent one of their bikes – and even a kid’s pull-behind trailer – to explore downtown Lynchburg and the picturesque paved Trails of Blackwater Creek. If you want to join a biking community, Bikes Unlimited and The Glass House have teamed up for Pints after Pedals, where all ages ranges, and skill levels can get together and ride the Blackwater Creek Trails together. Bikes Unlimited offers free bike rentals to anyone in need of some wheels; after the ride, meet up with the gang at The Glass House for food and beer. Pints after Pedals happens every third Tuesday of the month, visit the Bikes Unlimited Facebook page for more information.
Whether you are visiting Lynchburg for one of their nationally recognized events, or you call the Hill City your home, your options for fitness and specialty gear and apparel will be served up by these small business owners whose love for what they do and personal connection elevates them far above big-box retailers.
Kari Smith is a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a child, writing poems and songs. In 2006, her dream became reality when she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to sing and record her own original compositions. She continued on to pursue writing magazine articles and blogs to chronicle and share her personal adventures and interests. Besides teaching music and performing in the Richmond, VA area, she also enjoys riding horses, raising goats and chickens, and gardening.
Find out more about Kari HERE