What can you do on a rainy winter day…… think about your next ride🚴‍♂️😁🚴‍♀️😁

As some of you will know, I own a bike shop in Blackhill; http://www.steeltowncycles.co.uk. I’ve been riding bikes since my teens and fixing them for the last 20 odd years. I that time I’ve raced, XC Mountain Bike, Cyclocross, Downhill mountain bike and road racing.

I’ve raced with some great guys over the years, lost contact and lost my love for cycling then regained it. The point is that’s normal. I’m grateful for the friendships that existed then and now. My days of racing are now a thing of the past …….. well maybe. Never say never eh?

I’m finding inspiration in keeping my customers bikes running smoothly and being a point of information for them all.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been a regular cyclist but I’ve decided that this is the year it’s going to happen. As the rain lashes against the window I’m reminded of the cyclist that I was. No weather would stop me! Being fortunate enough to cycle to work, prior to Shop ownership, I’ve ridden in many conditions of wind and rain, snow and the dreaded ice. Car ownership gives us an easy option and then the bike becomes a weekend activity.

The bike has kept me healthy in mind and body and both have suffered as a result of my reluctance to feel the wind and rain on my face again. So when you tell yourself it’s too cold, you’ll also find an excuse for it being too hot. It’s true that cycling can be addictive because it gives you a sense of well-being which is difficult to let go of. When you do let it go it’s difficult to return to as your head tells you, “I could climb that hill 2 minutes faster last time” when the last time was almost 2 years ago and 12kg lighter.

So part way into a new year I want to make a resolution to myself to look after myself better. It’s easier to get out with friends as you will soon inspire each other to go further or dig in a bit more on that hateful climb that usually got the better of you when you were stronger. Cycling is all the better when in good company. No matter what shape you’re in now you’ll feel better and like you’ve accomplished something when you ride around the corner and get off the bike at home.

2021 was a tough year for me and the shop. We’ve started this year quieter than in years and it’s been difficult to find the motivation to go on with it some days. If you’ve been in contact and couldn’t get a hold of me I can only apologise. It’s not been my intention to let anyone down. In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner is told “If you build it, they will come”. When I started out on this adventure in 2016, I had that fresh faced belief. Unfortunately the reality is far different. For the small independent bike shop to survive it needs its loyal customers. Steel Town Cycles is YOUR bike shop. Think before you go to click on the mouse or go to a major retailer that perhaps the smaller shops have more to give. Better customer service and building relationships that will last for years.

Too many great independent bike shops in the north east have had to close their doors for the last time. Cycling has changed, £200 won’t get you much of a bike these days. Many more may be doing the same in 2022. When it’s gone it’s gone, use it or loose it. Of course we are all looking for the best deals, the best price. Perhaps in both the interests of shopping local and safeguarding local jobs and businesses, it’s the right moral choice.

Above are some photos of the many cycling adventures I’ve been part of over the years. I’m lucky to have been there. The great thing about cycling is that at its heart it isn’t elitist, people make it that way by being snobby about what bike you ride. If you enjoy it and you get out of it what you hope, then that’s what is important.

For now, I’m going to be trying my best to get out on those rides with family and friends. Remembering a bike has always been in my life and it’s an old friend I don’t want to loose contact with.

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