By LeRae Haynes —
For 27 years Red Shreds Bike and Board Shed has been a source of outdoor gear for all ages in a wide range of activities. But besides bikes and boards, owner Mark Savard and his staff also provide information and inspiration to the community when it comes to getting out and connecting to the wilderness.
Red Shreds sells skateboards, long boards, mountain bikes, road bikes, kayaks, paddle and wake boards, rock climbing gear, back country camping equipment, alpine and back country skis, snow boards, and skate skis. They also have gear for mountaineering and camping, and provide things like first aid supplies, shoes, boots, clothing, and backpacks.
Savard started the bike club in Williams Lake in 1990. He is also key to the local mountain bike consortium. He is involved with the bike club every day, developing, expanding, and maintaining mountain bike trails including those at Fox Mountain, the River Valley, and the bike area in Boitanio Park.
Mountain bike trails are accessible by all levels of skill and experience, he says. “We have trails where kids ages three, four, and five are out riding with Mom and Dad, and trails for those who want something extreme. There’s the Boitanio bike park, too. It’s got many levels and we’re always adding to it when we have time and budget.”
My kids love to be outside. This summer was hot so I spent a lot of time in the water on the paddle board with my daughter going up and down the lake. They like to just play in the dirt, on the swings, and in the garden.”
Red Shreds shoppers range in age from babies to 80 and everybody in between.“I have lots of five-year-old customers,” says Savard. “It’s so exciting for kids to get their first skis, their first board, their first bike—especially bikes. They get to pick. It’s transportation and it’s freedom.”
The store offers new and used bikes and bike repair to accommodate kids who outgrow their bikes and need an upgrade. Savard says customer service is 500% important. “You can buy anything online,” he says. “Good customers are your best ambassadors.”
A father with a 10-month-old son and a three-year-old daughter, Savard says a child is never too young to take outside. “I started out in Burnaby as a kid and every time I got a chance I wanted to play in the woods, not on concrete,” he says. “I was more of a build-a-tree-fort guy than a play-street-hockey guy.
“Things have changed a lot since I moved here as a kid. People appreciated the outdoors more then. I tended to go camping and fishing every weekend and not too many kids do that anymore. We didn’t have distractions like the Internet and video games: we went out and climbed trees. Schools used to do more outdoor stuff with kids, but there’s more paranoia and liability and kids miss out,” he adds.
“My kids love to be outside. This summer was hot so I spent a lot of time in the water on the paddle board with my daughter going up and down the lake. They like to just play in the dirt, on the swings, and in the garden.”
There are no limits: climbing waterfalls, winter camping, riding a bike around the world,” he said.“Whatever you need, we can hook you up.”
He said parents lead by example. “If we enjoy the outdoors our kids will too. Monkey see, monkey do. If you’re sitting on the computer it’s pretty hard to tell your kids to get outside,” he explains. “Being outdoors is the best for kids. Tired kids don’t get into as much trouble.”
The most important thing about kids being outside is developing inner awareness and appreciation, says Savard, adding that in places like Syria, kids don’t have that option. “Here, kids have fresh air and fresh water and non-toxic dirt in most of the Cariboo. They use their imagination and don’t have everything fed to them via WiFi.”
When it comes to finding outdoor gear at Red Shreds for you and your family, you can be as extreme as you want. “There are no limits: climbing waterfalls, winter camping, riding a bike around the world,” he said.“Whatever you need, we can hook you up.”
Red Shreds is located at 95 South 1st Avenue. For more information phone (250) 398-7873 or visit www.redshreds.com.
To find out more about the bike club and trails visit www.ridethecariboo.ca.
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, songwriter, co-producer of “Pursicles,” and the community co-ordinator for Success by 6. She is also the instigator of a lot of musical shenanigans in Williams Lake including “Borderband” with kids and is a member of the “Perfect Match” dance band.