Biking the Decades

Forty-Plus Years of Pedal Pushing at the Hub in Napa

It’s not a fancy shop, and when you walk in, the smell of new rubber tires is strong yet relatively soothing compared to odor of car exhaust on the busy street outside.

The Hub bicycle shop in Napa is a locally owned and operated business that for over four decades has changed hands, morphed and moved until settling into its present incarnation across from Napa High School on Jefferson Street. Co-owner Keith Kimbrough says he’s keeping it a community resource, friendly to families and to the environment. The Hub was certified through the Bay Area Green Business Program in 2009.

The greening of a bike shop includes the exclusive use of biodegradable cleaners and lubricants, along with reduction of business wastes in general. But for Kimbrough, the ultimate commitment to sustainability means encouraging people to get on bikes for their own good.

“It’s been fun watching the changes in the way people think about bikes,” said Kimbrough, whose family took over the bike shop from another Napa family four years ago. “People now see bikes more as a way to get places, something they can incorporate into their lives as a means of transportation and staying active. We encourage people to stay active.”

To live up to their business slogan, “We live and ride here,” it was only fitting that Kimbrough offer employees incentives to ride their bikes to work. “Being a bike shop, it’s counterintuitive to have a bunch of cars out front,” Kimbrough explains, with a small laugh. “We always preach to people that they should ride their bikes to work.”

During National Bike to Work Month each year, the Hub has sponsored an energizer station for riders, and Kimbrough has seen increasing participation over the years. “In 2009, we had only five riders stop by,” he said. “But there were 15 the next year, and then 35 riders last year.” There’s also been an increase in those who attend the Hub’s free bike-maintenance clinics on the second Friday of each month.

Another way Kimbrough encourages riding in the community is by working with Napa Bike, the local county cycling coalition. Members of Napa Bike are given a 10 percent discount on cycling clothes and bicycles, as are those who pull into the parking lot on bicycles. “There’s a slow and steady increase in people wanting to get active and get on bikes,” says Kimbrough, “even through the winter. Whole families are riding together, and a lot more people are signing up for BMX riding. The BMX sign-ups are through the roof.”

May the humble Hub see another 40 years.

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