Sometimes life takes you on a trail you didn’t expect.
For Garth Schmeck’s trek to Sequim, it came sooner than expected.
Schmeck, owner of Pedego Sequim — the 140th licensed Pedego bike shop in the world at 213 E. Washington St., Suite 3 — recently moved from Redding, Calif., after massive fires damaged nearby national forestland and the tourist industry.
“We weren’t planning on moving this early, but the fires accelerated things,” he said.
“It’s a bummer. We moved to Redding (in 2001) to be in the outdoor industry because it’s beautiful and fun. I have a lot of friends who lost everything.”
Schmeck said he and his wife Kristi, a Sequim Middle School math teacher, said they had a large list of places to move and felt Sequim was perfect to play, live, work and eventually retire.
For 30 years, Schmeck has been riding competitively and for fun. About five years ago, electric bikes began to intrigue him.
What he quickly learned at his former shop was the market featured a lot of poorly-made bikes imported from overseas.
Schmeck said lower-end bikes are mass-produced in single batches, so parts are hard to find.
“We became more of an e-bike repair business and learned some hard lessons,” he said.
Through “a lot of pain and research,” Schmeck said he discovered Pedego. He eventually became a licensed dealer at his former shop before opening Pedego Redding in 2014.
What is Pedego?
Pedego Electric Bikes started in 2008 in Orange County, Calif., and became the top selling electric bike brand in the U.S.
It currently offers a multitude of bikes from cruisers to commuters to mountain bikes in hundreds of colors.
Bikes feature 250-500 watt motors to help cyclists go about 60 miles on a single charge, with throttles supporting riders with some or full pedal assistance.
Cost per charge of a bike is about 6 cents, Schmeck said, and each bike features a “two-year, bumper-to-bumper warranty.”
One of the misnomers about electric bicycles, he said, is that riding an electric bike is still riding a bike.
The main goal for an electric bike, Schmeck said, is to take away fear of hills and distance.
Pedego’s “Pedal Assist” helps riders minimally or fully in any variable such as weather and height, he said.
“(With an e-bike) you’re getting someone on a bicycle that wouldn’t be on a bike otherwise,” Schmeck said.
“And people who have cycled their whole lives will find themselves pushing harder than ever. You’re going to go a lot farther than you ever did before.”
A recent customer “came in with the intent to try one and she got around the corner and didn’t come back for two hours,” Schmeck said.
Over that span, she went 18.2 miles.
Building a business
Schmeck said a bulk of his clientele is 65-years-old-plus, along with others switching to riding for their commutes.
He finds Pedego bikes are multi-faceted accommodating the elderly to families to people rehabbing injuries with bikes featuring low-step frames.
Prior to purchasing, Schmeck encourages riders to try them out and learn about the various price points and watts for the bikes, similarly to knowing the engine sizes of vehicles.
“The beauty of Pedego,” he said, “is it’s plug-and-play. If there’s a faulty part, it can be taken off easily and replaced quickly.”
Pedego Sequim hosted a ribbon cutting on Sept. 14 and a grand opening the following day at the East Washington Street store.
The business offers rentals, tours, sales and service of Pedego electric bikes. It’s open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, with more information at pedegosequim.com and on social media sites like Instagram.com/PedegoSequim.
Contact the store at 360-683-0635.
More about Schmeck
Earlier this year, Schmeck rode with award-winning cyclist Rebecca Rusch, who was featured in the documentary “Blood Road” — where she traveled 1,800 kilometers on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to see the crash site of her father during the Vietnam War.
Schmeck rode with Rusch and a team again in January to revisit the trail to bring awareness and raise funds for the Mines Advisory Group to remove landmines and cluster bombs from the area. Another documentary is planned to detail their trip, he said.
In Sequim, Schmeck plans to build a home for himself in the near future, and he and his wife have six grown children and three granddaughters.