Time flies when you're having fun, well even when you're not, time still flies! It's incredible to think that 5 years ago today I was handed a set of keys to the little space that we have now call home. It hasn't all been smooth sailing, there's been ups and downs along the way, hell there's been an entire Pandemic! We've been through a couple of revamps along the way too, but we think that's part of what makes us the rad little bike shop that we are.
Essential Cycles was an idea born on two fronts. Firstly, after travelling to the UK and having a terrible experience with a rental bike, the brakes needed bled, I hate to think about the last time the suspension may have been service! Which led to a slightly disappointing and arm pumping experience on the Wales tracks. Secondly a separated shoulder, that left me unable to work for a period of time and really had me realising, how depending I was on my body to function optimally for my livelihood. So the dream of owning my own little shop began.
For those who know me well, you also know that once I have an idea in my head that I'm set on it'll usually come to fruition pretty quick and this was no exception. With my accounting background I drew up a quick and dirty business plan and got to work and six weeks after making the decision that this was the next chapter in my life I had the keys to what would become Essential Cycles.
Building out the shop was done on a shoestring budget and with the help of friends! Special shout out to Kelly (Dumpster Bear) who helped build a lot of the fittings and my friend from Australia who was literally visiting so got given a paint brush (thanks Martin!) At this stage we still didn't have a name, the favorite contender floating around was Moist Mountain Rides (you both know who you are!) but after several unsuccessful brainstorming attempts sitting over coffee with my friend and graphic designer extraordinaire Kelsie we finally saw the name staring back at us!
I was then fortunate enough to be introduced to Jessica while hang out at The Bike Room and talking with Jeff Bryson about running a bicycle repair shop as part of the business. Jess was keen to join me in starting this new venture and we very quickly got things opened and rolling. Jessica got the bike service shop up and running like the pro mechanic she is and we were off! We added ladies only bike maintenance clinics in the fall, something I've been running with a number of different shops for almost 15 years and that was how year one went down.
The next three years were a blur! Jessica got offered the job of a lifetime with Liv Global and now gets to travel the world as the team mechanic for their athletes. We integrated and grew the coaching and guiding side of the business and Ozmosis Training now lives under the Essential Cycles name. We supported local trail associations Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association and Tri-cities Off Road Cycling Association, and spend countless hours doing trail building on trail maintenance as a way to support the North Shore Mountain Bike Association.
Covid-19 happened in there somewhere and we closed the shop for a while and had time to think and reflect on what comes next. It was during this time that I got to meet my now good friend Judy and we ran an Intro to Mountain Biking day her company Colour The Trails (quick side note: CTT advocate for inclusive representation in outdoor spaces, go check them out and support them!) which we now runs every year and has grown into a really cool mentorship program too.
The last year has been the most exciting though, as we shifted gear again. Geoff MacDonald (or Niceguy Geoff as he's affectionally known) joined the team. #NiceGuyGeoff has over 20 years of international experience ranging from community bike-kitchens to UCI race support, he has ridden and repaired pretty much any type of bike you can think of. Geoff is also one of the best wheel builders I've had the pleasure of knowing (I'm bias, and that's okay, cause I also think it's a fact!) Geoff also loves teaching bike mechanics and has built an impressive roaster of classes that you can attend.
This past year we also grew our team and our focus. Long term pro mountain bike coach Sierra took on more responsibly coaching the new Race Team (that's a post all on it's own) We also added new members to the team with Dagny joining in the spring as a coach and bike mechanic (when she's not off being a rad guide elsewhere in the world!) and my good friend and Tuesday #JacVenture buddy Andrew also joined the shop as our second mechanic.
This means we've also been growing our partnerships. For those who have followed along for the journey you would have seen that our fleet of Giant bikes was joined by he new Commencal Meta SX this year and we've been added as a drop ship location for the brand. We've also more recently added Guerrilla Gravity to the shop (we love a North American Made story) and we'll have more exciting news about that soon! We also continue to build our relationship with We Are One Composites and love sending their wheelsets out the door.
Essential Cycles is a North Shore bike shop with a different feel, we are a bicycle service shop, but we are more than that. We have well maintained mountain bike rentals and demos, and if you need a guide or a coach we have those too. We also love doing custom bike builds and our maintenance clinics round everything out nicely. We really enjoy being part of the North Shore biking community and look forward to doing so for many years to come.
So happy five year birthday to us, its been a hell of a ride so far!