Far from an easy ride

Cycling: Danny and Ashley Dilger started Gippy Cycles at the start of the pandemic.

Alyssa Fritzlaff

THE installation of the new Haunted Hills Bike Park, and COVID lockdowns over the past years have many Latrobe Valley locals taking up cycling to get fit.

However, hopping on the seat and getting those pedals spinning might not be as easy as it appears.

The bike parts industry has been crumbling since the beginning of the pandemic, with reported wait of 12 months or even more.

Local bike shop Gippy Cycles, has been to go-to place for Latrobe Valley and Gippsland based bike riders and cycling enthusiasts since it opened in late 2019.

From the moment they opened their doors, owners Danny and Ashley Dilger have experienced stock shortages due to the pandemic.

“Within three months of opening the first load of COVID issues arose,” Mr Dilger said.

“When running a bike shop pre-COVID, if someone wanted something you’d order it and
within two to five working days it would be here and the customer would come and collect it.

“Now, people can wait over 12 months for a bike.”

Most of the longer waits are for high end biking supplies, Mr Dilger said.

Fortunately, the team at Gippy Cycles have many customers who are happy to wait, or choose an alternative for whatever supply they need.

Despite this, Mr Dilger said the supply issues “have caused a lot of grief”.

At the beginning Gippy Cycles was open six days a week, however with no end in sight for supply issues and a never ending stream of customers, making time for bike servicing has become a top priority.

The store is now closed to the public to complete servicing on Wednesdays and Saturdays, except by appointment.

“We needed more time to complete servicing. We just can’t get it done with so many people coming in and out of the shop… all three phone ring off the hook all day,” Mr Dilger said.

“We have five full-time staff, and four part time.” Gippy Cycles have seen “bucketloads” more interest in recreational bike riding as the pandemic has continued.

“There are heaps more people out riding bikes at the moment,” Mr Dilger said.

“When we first moved to Traralgon all the tracks and greenways were really quiet, now you never go for a ride without seeing at least a couple of other families.”

He opened Gippy Cycles with his wife Ashley, inspired by his passion for biking from a young age.

“I’ve always been interested in two wheels, ever since I was a little kid,” he said.

Originally from Longwarry, Danny has spent time pursing cycling in his younger years, before finally running Drouin Cycles.

“I had a ball running the bike shop in Drouin for a couple of years, it’s been an even bigger eye-opener doing it for ourselves,” he said.

Mr Dilger is an active member of the Latrobe Valley cycling community.

“I was a member of the Warragul Cycling Club for 30 years. I’m now a member of the Latrobe City Cycling Club, because I married someone from Traralgon and we moved to Traralgon,” he told The Express.

Ms Dilger is responsible for much of the goings-on behind the scenes at Gippy Cycles.

She doesn’t have a long background in riding, however since meeting Ms Dilger she has taken it up and enjoys the sport.