A BIKE shop which has been in Oxford for more than 100 years is riding through a rollercoaster in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

When lockdown measures were introduced almost two months ago, Warlands Cycles co-owner Steve Stuart said they had been prepared to have to totally shut down.

Government guidance, however, listed bike shops as an essential service.

Mr Stuart said: "On some level it was a pleasant surprise to find we could be still open but it was with this sense of responsibility."

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A major concern for Mr Stuart and his business partner Andy Holme, who have run the Botley Road store for more than 20 years, was ensuring staff and customers remained safe.

He said: "It has been quite stressful. Initially we weren't sure how to implement things, how much contact with members of the public.

"As time has gone on we have become much more familiar with what the real risks are."

He said the shop had initially gone down to three days a week and with reduced opening hours to ensure social distancing for staff, but high demand had seen them increase to four days and extend hours.

Mr Stuart added, like other shops, there were strict measures in place to ensure people were two metres apart, with frequent wiping down of surfaces and the card machine.

He said it had been ‘fascinating’ to see the trends in people's different bike interests as lockdown has progressed, with an initial 10-day spike before the 'Stay at Home' directive was sent out on March 23.

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He explained: "At first it was children's bikes as families went out riding and found their child's bike wasn't the right size or quality, then we had a lot of older people interested in electric bikes, which was great to see, and most recently as lockdown has extended adult mountain bikes have been popular."

Mr Stuart, who likes to ride out into the countryside, said cycling was a great way to get exercise and relieve stress.

He added the importance of the shop was also brought home to him when an employee at the Ashmolean bought a bike to get to work, as they had been told to avoid public transport, in the run up to lockdown.

Mr Stuart, who lives in West Oxford, said: "Warlands was established in 1906 and me and Andy have always said we see ourselves as custodians rather than owners.

"I think it is nice to show we are still here doing the same thing."

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He added as well as bike sales an important part of what the shop was offering was repairs and while Warlands was unable to do a full service it was able to offer the kind of repairs that could 'keep people on the roads', including key workers.

Mr Stuart said they felt 'humbled' by how the business is faring compared to other independent shops which have had to temporarily close. He said: "We are very much aware of how fortunate we are to have been able to keep running."

For more about the shop go to warlands-cycles.co.uk or visit the Warlands Cycles Facebook page.