PN: Tell me about how you got into cycling.
JG: I cycled as a child, but didn’t get into it in a big way till I was in my early 30s. I bought my first bike because it looked really nice; my younger brother had a road bike that had really impressed me. It was a Raleigh touring bike, which I thought would be a bit more practical than a road bike. And having bought the bike, I decided I’d better ride it! Then I added a road bike with a customised frame and shiny bits. And thanks again to my brother’s example, I later bought a mountain bike too.
PN: Did you just ride for sport and leisure?
JG: I did initially, but I was working as a manager in the health service and gradually changed from driving every day to cycle commuting. I used to think that driving was the be all and end all, but soon realised that cycling was a better experience. Cycle commuters arrive at work in a better frame of mind, and they can have a relaxing or exhilarating ride home at the end of a stressful day – and keep fit in the process.
PN: So how did the move to becoming a bike mechanic come about?
JG: I lost my job three or four years ago and saw it as a good opportunity to make a complete break. I’d always envied people who say “my job is my hobby” and I had a reasonably good background knowledge of working on my bikes. I’d collected quite a few tools, and as everyone was getting into cycling, it looked like a pretty good business proposition.
PN: Did you have to do much training?
JG: I did the Cytech level 2 training course, which took two weeks and was a very good starting point. I hadn’t worked in the cycle trade before, but I had a good idea about where to start. I joined the Cycle Tech network of independent businesses, where we share a website and have the same working principles. See http://www.cycletechuk.com/2011/03/mobile-bicycle-repairs-colchester.html
Business was slow at first, as I chose to launch in the winter; it was a quiet time, so a good time to start. It’s not till you’ve worked on lots of bikes that you get your speed up. Winter is also a good time for people who want a complete renovation, as I have plenty of time to work on it – and my price might be a bit lower as it’s a slack time.
PN: Do you still find time for plenty of riding?
JG: Not so much, I now spend more time fixing bikes than riding them. I ride once or twice a week, either on my own or with friends. I’m a member of VC Revolution, although I don’t do group rides very often. But I’ve booked myself a holiday in the Alps next year which I’m really looking forward to.
PN: Do your family share, or tolerate, your love of cycling?
JG: My family are all cyclists. My wife rides when she goes into town, and both of our sons cycle. Richard walks to school as it’s so close, but Jonathan now rides to work on his bike, as we worked out that he saves £4,000 a year compared with running a car. He has stuck at it, despite starting a couple of years ago when the weather was really wet. But that’s unusual. The great thing about Essex is that, because of the low rainfall, you don’t actually get wet on too many occasions.