Sparling bike tours set to open next week
BY DENNY SCOTT
After a successful test run with some members of the historically-influenced upcoming Blyth Festival play Wing Night at the Boot, Blyth native Reece Sparling is ready to start his new business Blyth Bike Tours.
The business will open within the next week at 213 Dinsley Street, just east of Queen Street, as a temporary location.
Sparling said he is in the last phase of getting his project ready to go, having recently fine-tuned stops with Brock Vodden and his late wife Janis to incorporate into albums that will help illustrate the historical aspects of Blyth.
Until the Howard building, just north of the Blyth Festival, is complete, Sparling will be operating on Dinsley Street, storing his 18 bikes there and meeting those interested in tours there.
The tours will be offered by appointment online through
Sparling explained the best way to experience the tour is through the bikes he has, not only because he can vouch for their care and maintenance, but also because they are outfitted with fenders and flashing lights for safety as well as pouches for the photo books.
“It’s the best user experience,” he said.
Private tours can be arranged in which riders can use their own bikes, he said, or for younger riders.
The regular tours will be held two to three times a day for riders 12 years of age or older.
Two tours are available, a 90-minute variant that mostly stays within the village and focuses on the history of Blyth, and a three-hour tour which includes double the stops, more time off the beaten path and visits more of the outskirts of the village.
Even before officially opening, the company has already grown to incorporate a bike mechanic from Seaforth named Jason Lamont.
The repair shop will maintain bikes for the Blyth Bike Tours and offer repair services. It will be located in the rear of the building currently housing the Pick a Posie pop-up shop on Queen Street until Blyth Bike Tours moves to its permanent location on Queen Street.
Lamont, however, isn’t your average bike mechanic, having been blind since birth.
Local accessibility expert Julie Sawchuk connected Sparling with Lamont after she formally met him last month at an accessibility group meeting. She had become aware of Lamont when visiting the International Plowing Match last year where he was playing country music at the event.
Lamont told The Citizen that Sawchuk connected Sparling with him because the latter didn’t know much about repairing bikes.
He recently received accreditation through the Winterborne Bicycle Institute in Guelph as a bicycle mechanic and shortly after met with Sparling and his father David to start the wheels in motion for the repair service.
Lamont has always liked mechanics and, while attending the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind, he participated in a co-operative program in an auto shop.
“Last summer, I worked for an auto garage here at home,” he said.
After that, he pursued several options, but didn’t find what he was seeking until he attended a basic bicycle repair seminar in Listowel.
“They had never had a blind student before, so it was confusing for them and for me,” he said. “But after that, I started looking into the program in Guelph.”
Lamont grew up around mechanics, with his father previously working on machinery. In addition, his friend’s father and his godfather were both mechanics.
“I grew up around it,” he said. “I liked the work that is involved.”
He said that the repair business will concentrate on Sparling’s bikes and a few customers he knows, but he will eventually be welcoming new clients.
“I want to start working with people that I know,” he said. “There are a lot of people in Seaforth that know me that want their bikes taken care of.”
He said, for the time being, he will working mornings on Sparling’s bikes before expanding to customers he knows before considering more customers.
Lamont can be reached at 519-276-8903.