9 November 2011 - 6:51Ask George: Week 2 (Electric Boogaloo)
So only 1 question this week, but it was a good one, and comes from Team29 rider Chris Muddiman aka The Mutt. He asked:
Can you give us the history of how you ended up being a shop owner, and how that turned into Bike29? Not a real creative question, but I figured it would be a good story.
And he was right, it is a good story, for it all started about this time 6 years ago. I had been laid off from my last “job”. I wasn’t exactly surprised, as little input I put forth with the powers that be was ever actually acted upon, resulting in poor performance of the things I was in charge of. Basically I was slamming my head into a brick wall, and was not entirely bummed about about being let go.
It would take about 2 months of searching for another job in my field of expertise, which in VT was really hard. Nothing was coming up, and the supply of rocks to turn over and leads to follow were fast running out. Winter can be a cruel time of year here for the unemployed and unpurposed, and I had to come up with something. After much soul searching I finally came to the conclusion that I was not going to be satisfied working for others.
Over the course of the previous months, I had started riding my Surly Karate Monkey over my FS bike, and was beginning to get hooked on the 29″ wheel. At the time, no one was doing anything to support the big wheel platform, and the internet was a good and inexpensive way to sell to customers outside my zip code. However, big parts houses like QBP don’t sell to run-out-of-the-garage operations, which forced me into my next big decision. I decided to grab the bull by the horns and open an online and brick and mortar bike shop. Bike29 would be the online store, Five Hills Bikes would be the LBS.
I had no clue what I was doing, or even getting myself into, but it seemed like a good idea, and the only option at the time. I also launched this blog, which I have just spent about an hour peering through archived posts. I have literally built this whole thing up from nothing but tenacity, luck and the support of close friends and loved ones. The luck hasn’t always been good, but I have always managed to learn something valuable from the times when the odds weren’t in my favor. My perseverance has helped drive the ship through those tough times, and I’ve always managed to come out on the other side of the storm. And the business grew. It outgrew it’s original footprint in two quick years, and we ended up moving the shop into downtown Waterbury where it still lives today.
The good times are incomparable. I have had so many awesome experiences that I would not have had were I stuck in a cube someplace. There would be no Gravel Grinder. I would not have started what is now the VT Mountainbike Festival, I would not have met Fuzzy and Dejay, who have played a pivotal role in my life. I would not have gone to SSAZ, nor been talked into going to SSWC in Durango, no SSUSA, no riding amazing trails all over the southwest, southeast and Colorado. I wouldn’t have met all the really amazing people that I now call good friends.
Let’s not even get started on the bikes…
There would be no B29 Jersey, no Team29.
SSUSA would likely not be coming to VT in 2012.
These are all the things that I think about during the times when things are so rough I bitch and whine about wanting to get a job and work for someone else. There is no way I could have accomplished any of these things without the shop. I was going to say “stuck behind a computer”, but lets face it, I am sometimes stuck behind a computer. But at least it is a nice computer, that I own, one that I can take with me, and one that has allowed me to do what I do.
It isn’t an easy life, and it has certainly had it’s prices to be paid, but in the end I am in the driver’s seat. I am the master of my destiny. I don’t lament my decision to strike out on my own, and I would tell anyone that is considering making a break to chase their dream to just go for it. Life is too short to be stuck in a rut. I believe that nothing “worth it” is ever easy.
There are some extremely cool things lined up for B29 that I hope to be able to start talking about as soon as next week. And let us not forget, as a result of the things this shop has allowed me to do, SSUSA2012 is going to be in my back yard.
So hopefully this sheds a little light on to what/how/why B29 is and how it came to be. Keep the questions coming!