Almost in the middle of nowhere — well, actually in East Earl, Pennsylvania — is an amazing bike shop. Located in the rolling hills of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Shirk’s is in an area populated by Mennonite and Amish families. It’s not uncommon here to see horse-drawn buggies, and men, women, and children getting around on bicycles and scooters, as modern conveniences are shunned by many members of these groups.
I’d gone past Shirk’s when participating in a couple of cycling events. Shirk’s is closed on Sunday, not surprisingly, but water in coolers and snacks were left out for cyclists who were passing by during those events. I’d wondered about a bike shop that would provide refreshment to cyclists during hours when it wasn’t even open.
A couple of months ago I saw a woman wearing a fluorescent helmet with the features I wanted, and asked where she’d gotten it. “Shirk’s” she said, and that was the impetus I needed to finally check the shop out. Also, Lancaster County is beautiful, and the drive through it, particularly when it’s not tourist season, can be very rewarding.
It turns out that Shirk’s has the stock density of an old-time urban hardware store, but without the space limitations. Looking for bike tools? Shirk’s has everything from the basics to all kinds of very modern mcro-multi-tools.
Want a quality saddle? Shirk’s carries Brooks, Bontrager, Selle Anatomica, Terry, and more — and a full selection of women’s and smaller sizes, too.There’s plenty of spandex for men, women, and children, along with baskets, grips, cell phone mounts and all kinds of bike accessories. And bikes themselves. Lots and lots of bikes; it’s an entire warehouse, in fact.
No Bromptons, though; if you live in East Earl, your need for a folding bike is probably minimal. If your buggy breaks down, presumably you ride the horse home. (If your horse gets into trouble, presumably that’s a whole different issue.)
Old school approaches haven’t kept Shirk’s from adapting: There are shelves of gels, bars, energy drinks and more.
Including a wall of helmets, which I failed to photograph because I was busy buying one. The fellow who helped me expertly fitted mine, so I went home without dreading doing the sizing ineptly myself.
I also picked up a multi-tool, the women’s florescent, short-fingered cycling gloves I can’t find anywhere else, and another sunscreen skull cap for under my helmet. A day’s work well done!
Shirk’s is a good distance from major population centers, but oh, what a drive!
That’s the view from the store’s parking lot, looking left, above. Below is the view looking to the right.
Befitting its Mennonite origin, the store has no website; Shirk’s is one huge Internet secret. But when noodling around online for the address and directions, I did come across a great article about Shirk’s in Bicycling Magazine. It’s very much worth a read.
The store’s address, which, happily, was included in the article, is:
Shirk’s Bike Shop
1649 Ligalaw Rd.
East Earl, PA 17519
There’s a large, active, repair shop on the premises; truing wheels is a speciality. It’s kind of a dream bike shop — nearly perfect! Well worth the trip; come during clement weather and explore the area, too. There are tourist traps a-plenty in Lancaster County, but also hidden gems just like this one.