Flavorful bike tour

Armin Reyes needed some tire work for his bicycle.

A line had formed around the bike tune-up area along the Chandler Bikeway. Because of the waiting, Reyes suspected his family had ridden into Magnolia Park.

“They’re probably off for cookies or ice cream,” he said. “[Or] the scavenger hunt, the free grub, Porto’s.”

By Saturday evening, between 400 and 600 bike riders had rolled through Magnolia Park on the Egg-Cellent Magnolia Bicycle Tour, a bike ride and scavenger hunt, with free bike tune-ups and safety tips.

Families were given a map of the park, and participating stores rewarded riders with Easter gifts ranging from small potted plants to cannoli to eco-friendly pencils.

“We have a lot of one-of-a-kind stores,” said Gail Stewart, a business district manager and organizer. “It’s the one bike ride you gain weight on because you get so many treats.”

For Dave Thorne and son Max, it was another reason to get the Scouts squad together again.

“It’s a good time for me to spend time with Max,” Dave Thorne said. “We’re just going for a ride.”

Along Magnolia Boulevard, bikes moved from store to store, filling bike racks along the sidewalk.

“We’ve seen a lot of traffic, but we realized it’s going to be hard to sell some things because bike riders don’t exactly have room for shopping bags,” said Amanda Vernon, the owner of Mindfulnest, an artisan gift gallery. “We can get return customers. Maybe they haven’t seen us before.”

Despite uncertain economic conditions, the area opened 10 stores in the last year, Stewart said.

“It’s tough everywhere, and these events drive people right to the merchants,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to help them.”

Bicycling is a significant part of the draw, officials said. The Chandler Bikeway runs north of the shopping district, and city planners have installed numerous bike racks along Magnolia Boulevard, said Cory Wilkerson, an assistant transportation planner.

“People ride bikes in, have some coffee, eat something and ride home — that’s what we’re trying to promote,” he said.

He also provided bike path tips and reviewed the city’s bicycle master plan, with extensions planned toward Sylmar and along San Fernando Boulevard.

Many participants were pleased the City Council freed bicycle space along Verdugo Road.

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