Gotta Ride Bikes expresses its passion for cycling through a glittering arsenal of gear and bikes, and a knowledgeable staff well-tuned to the finer points of their beloved sport and pastime. Expert bike mechanics keep two-wheeled transports in smooth-running shape, nutrition and training experts fashion personalized body-boosting routines, and shoe fitters fix common problems such as using ill-matched footwear and biking with stiletto heels. Throughout the well-stocked store, rows and racks of bicycles from brands such as Scott, Felt, and Look rear up their mechanical haunches, ready to take to the asphalt with aerodynamic speed and lightweight agility. Frame racks, pumps, helmets, and replacement parts keep cyclists of all stripes pedaling safely and efficiently, and jerseys, supplements, and training gear help professional wheel riders shave seconds from race times.
When 16-year-old Roger Soler crossed the finish line first at the Peruvian National Junior Championship, his victory marked the beginning of a love affair with running. At age 18, he set a Peruvian record in the 1500-meter and eventually brought his talents to the U.S., where he competed in the 5000-meter race at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Through it all, Roger nurtured a genuine fondness for running that blossomed into a full-fledged passion when he opened the first Soler's Sports more than two decades ago.
Today, Soler's Sports boasts four locations staffed by athletes with real-life experience in biking and running and was awarded a spot on Running Insight's Top 50 Running Stores of 2011. Staffers tend to customers on an individual basis, guaranteeing sneakers to accommodate gaits and bikes to fit bodies based on detailed analyses. Once employees have profiled the perfect shoe or bike, they help patrons find them, searching through the store’s stock, which includes brands such as Ridley Bikes, Vibram FiveFingers, Vitalsox, and Spibelt. Patrons can test-drive new kicks and wheels at the store's group runs and rides.
Perched atop a circular raft, a reddish golden retriever lifts his wet nose from the water and swiftly turns his head in the direction of the riverbank, his tail wagging rapidly and his ears perked. As he stares, a whitetail deer flits between the trees, pausing only long enough to make eye contact with the soggy dog before disappearing into the thick foliage. Defeated, the canine gazes at his owners as they laugh from their inner tubes before he plunges his face back into the cool river to escape Texas’ thick summer heat.
Through its long and short float tours, Tube Haus enables lazy interactions with wildlife throughout the summer. The staff furnishes customers with large inner tubes before sending them on leisurely floats along Guadalupe River’s Horseshoe Loop. It also rents out coolers so participants can enjoy refreshing drinks along their journey or keep their potential organ transplants nicely chilled. To further enjoy the experience, floaters may also bring their dogs and play music.
At Luis Gallardo's Bike City, the walls have nearly disappeared behind row after double-decker row of bicycles. Though his shop is packed with road bikes, mountain bikes, cruisers, hybrids, and children's bikes, Gallardo—a 40-year veteran of the bike industry—has also managed to find room for accessories and parts from brands such as Shimano, SRAM, and Louis Garneau. His team of mechanics repairs and maintains every make and model of velocipede, drawing on experience gleaned from years spent living with two-wheelers in their natural habitat.
Alamo Bike Shop provides bike rentals, repairs, and parts to get tourists and locals alike cycling merrily through the streets of San Antonio. Rentals allow explorers to choose from an inventory of quality comfort cruisers and K2 mountain bikes. To keep cyclists' heads safe, Alamo Bike Shop outfits renters with helmets as well as locks to prevent cycles from sneaking off to go hunting for armadillos. Kids 10 years and older can also get a bike rental suited to their smaller size; Alamo Bike Shop requires all riders under 18 don helmets to protect developing noggins. Check the shop's site for a list of San Antonio attractions to explore on rented wheels, including the San Antonio Museum of Art, Brackenridge Park, or that great trash can on Elmira Street.
The expert cycle surgeons at Bike World—one of whom was voted best bike mechanic by the San Antonio Current in 2010—are masters at nursing sick duocycles back to an optimal state of road-worthiness. The thorough tune-up involves adjusting the front and rear derailleurs and brakes, truing the wheels, lubing the cables and chain, and wiping down the frame with fancy white gloves. Once your bike is as finely tuned as an instrument made of baseball cards and spokes, feel free to blaze down trails, tracks, and undiscovered shortcuts to celebrities' houses with a renewed sense of fearlessness.