My accountant cracks down!

It has been brought to my attention that I am too cheap. Claire, customers, other shops have all commented. People started giving me tips as they thought it was too cheap. I’d name a price and they would haggle me up.

SO, I’ve listened to the masses, taken it on board and raised our prices to £30 instead of £25 for a Bronze service. In my eyes this just means I need to do extra bits to justify it. (Claire said I did that anyway!)

So, I’m sorry, but there it is, the inevitable that I was trying to avoid.

Aside from that, business is good. We’re just about on top, we’ve not currently got any “tricky” bikes in (all seized and rusty) – which is great and means i’m being spoilt.

It also means I nearly have enough time to do a mini-post. You know how those usually turn out…

I wanted to mention the Ride London-Surrey100 which I was unfortunate enough to be part of last weekend.

Hear me out (especially if you entered the ballot and didn’t get in!) You dodged a bullet.

This was Claire’s fifth time and my third time, all previous years have been pretty good, even if a bit damp. This year has the weather on it’s side – and I think this was part of the problem. It was massively oversubscribed. The organisers clearly expected thousands to drop out. I don’t think they did. This led to real problems with over-crowding. Drinks stations running out of water. Feed stations being closed. Running out of medals at the finish!

Running out of water? Seriously? So, with 30,000 peopled paying £79 each (that’s £2.3million) you can’t afford to provide adequate quantities of water? Pathetic.

That wasn’t the  biggest problem. Having paid the entry fee, you would expect to ride 100 miles, right? Not so. For all of you who know how much fun it is to walk in cleats, how would you feel about walking 2 miles? What, not on board!?!

We were first stopped before Newlands corner, they were trying to get an ambulance through, and let me be clear I have no problem with that at all. Totally understandable. The ambulance got through, everybody carried on, happy as you like.

For a while.

Then we were stopped again, and again, and again…getting beyond a joke. Leith Hill had a tree fall across the course? What?? So they closed that part of the course off. You then had everybody from Leith Hill and everybody who’d been diverted, merging, with the subsequent congestion you would expect. From that point on it was stop-start. Stopping on Box Hill for most people meant walking the rest of the way, a real shame.

Through Leatherhead the stewards were trying to ease the congestion. They did this by stopping everyone. Then letting them go for about 50 metres, then stopping then again. and so on and so on. How exactly that was meant to ease congestion I will never know.

On the plus side…I got to walk around with Claire. Apart from that though.. Event wrecked by greed, more riders, more money, no thought to the consequence.

Never mind, next year we’ll just do a sportive in Yorkshire for much less money, on much nicer routes, with much better hills. The Glorious North!

Rant over. Good to get that off my chest!

My battery died so I don’t have any photos, so until I get a photo off Claire i’ll just throw up a photo of a box of bits…

Got it, there we go, the WalkLondon-Surrey100….

 

 

The price of popularity!

As is now becoming apparent, this blog thing is not working for me. The “regular” posts I’m meant to do to keep you hooked and wanting more are somewhat lacking.

It’s as if I’ve been busy or something?!? I thought I should have a tea break – so this is it! I have….13 bikes, awaiting a bit of attention and care. Now, even I can’t get away with having 13 bikes in our living room, so some of these are confirmed bookings, as well as 2.5 long term projects, as well as 2 pending and 3 to be confirmed.

Needless to say, business is good!

Carnage also seems appropriate, yet I’m still grateful for every customer!

So, before the tea gets cold, news in brief.

We got a van – the promised SpokeyDokeyMobile upgrade happened – we said so long to the Mazda and instead got a Big RED Transit Custom. It’s great! Having driven the high roof version of this around London, it’s fairly familiar (albeit with less blue lights and a lacklustre siren/horn)

Anyway, that should really be the picture for this post really.

Then we also got logos for it, much quicker than anticipated – well done creative director Claire!

AND THEN, we got racking for it, to hold four bikes. Bikestow, which Claire saw on demo in York (and we entered a competition to win). We didn’t win, so we had to pay for ours…

Really impressed with it. For some reason we seem quite credible rocking up in our new van with our hoodies and our bike storage racks.

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I’m sure plenty more had happened, but Claire’s just walked in, and I’ve got a hub strip down to finish!

Chris out!

 

 

I survived!

We both survived the Panto, people liked our advert and we gave out several business cards.

Today, one of those materialised, which is always nice.

Not that we’ve been struggling for customers. Quite the contrary! We’ve been inundated! Perhaps it’s been too cold, people have been inside and remembered they had bikes?? Whatever it is, long may it continue, but…. storage is becoming a problem and Claire has recently noticed it’s much harder to navigate the house….

Most of the 4 bikes i’ve sorted today have been really well behaved, pedals have come off, cassettes have been removed, even the stuck seatpost was unstuck (with a breaker bar clamped in the seatpost). One bike however….is going to be a problem I think…

We’ll see if the penetrating freeze spray manages to work it’s magic tonight – otherwise I think we may have to take drastic measures 😦

Also our “more” stock that we got hasn’t arrived yet, so there are 5 bikes that can quite quickly be sorted that are waiting for parts!

The highlight however has been a steel Hahanna Race Light Kona. With the original Project Two forks as well!! It’s not a Joe Murray signature version (like my Fire Mountain) but it’s also in much better condition and is a lovely bike! Best of all it’s been looked after and only needs a brake pad replacing.

I’ve got another steel bike in which is also really lovely……and a couple of aluminium.

Nahh, they are all lovely bikes (except one Apollo that is orange everywhere – not just the paint!)

Which I suppose is a tenuous link to financial viability. The Apollo is not. (Sorry) This has been explained and I’ve given an estimate anyway (sentimentality adds an extra dimension). I needs so much work and so many new parts, it comes to more than the bikes original brand new price. Hats off to the people in China, i guess.

We, seem to be. Last month we made more money than I had spent on tools. Just. This month I’m running out of tools to buy, so we’ll probably do quite well – in fact, at this rate we will probably be close to turning an overall profit (covering all costs of the venture so far).

At which point the reality dawns that the next purchase will not be as easy to cover.

Our car – The SpokeyDokey-mobile (actually called Enola) is now 10 years old, has done quite a lot of miles, has real issues with the rear calipers, eats brake pads, refuses to re-gen the DPF unless forced and has leaky window seals (and subsequently needs the doors periodically draining….). It’s also transpired that to collect bikes (plural) I can realistically only fit two in at a time. Although with lots of removed wheels and padding and delicate manoeuvring we have had four bikes, a dog cage and a canvas castle (tent?) in the car, it also takes a long time.

So the next purchase. SpokeyDokeymobile v2.0.0, which we may call Valerie?? Either way, it’ll be a red van. Transit Custom is our current line of thinking, but we’ll see. My concerns about economy seem to be totally unfounded as any van newer than ten years old is more economical than our car – and if we take eating brake pads (and the wasted fuel from that) into consideration it makes good sense. Plus it looks much more professional (to compliment our service!)

Couple with that I was driving Transit customs around central London and greater Londonshire (shhh) and I get on really well with them. We’re not allowed blue lights on ours though. (One of the drivers, Martin “Two-Tone” fitted them to his car – then got caught, fired and jailed….)

Oh, the picture? Sally’s back (for her free service) – My brother’s Christmas present! (Although he tried to use the “£5 off a service” voucher we printed in the panto programme!) Cheeky sod!

Claire’s home, time to clear up!

Chris out.

 

 

How not to write a blog

Mistake number 1 – infrequent posts

Build up some interest, get people following your posts, capture the imagination and then stop.

Pretty much exactly what I’ve done here. Not on purpose, you understand. I have become a victim of my own success!

Okay, that could be slightly over exaggerating, but Claire’s sales forecast for January were 4 happy customers.

We’ve had 17 happy customers (not including 3 with multiple bikes!) SEVENTEEN! That’s mental! I’m pleased, really pleased – but it’s kept me busy – and our suppliers!

I’ve even found myself waiting for parts, so now we’ve increased our stock level (The stock that we weren’t going to hold…)

It’s the 1st February so we start the count again. I’ve got one to work on and five awaiting instruction – and two of those are long term [before the next ice age] “spares” for my cousin.

I say long term, but the photo was our place this morning!

The non-toxic Mercury substitute has dropped to -8 (Celsius) over the past few days, which (for us in the UK) is friggin cold! Now, finally, we have some snow!

But, as I say, I’ve been busy, spanner wagging away in my warm workspace.

It’s Friday, so I should be working…but I worked Wednesday, and it’s been so long since i’ve actually managed to get out on a bike (aside from test rides)! I’ve got my warm gear at the ready, i’m eyeing up the snow….dropping my tyre pressure…wondering if I should get some ice spikes in 700c (i’ve got them in 26″ – and no, 26 ain’t dead!)

Fortunately, I have a customer who wanted some brake pads delivering – and Claire’s taken the car, what a shame 🙂

Then, tonight, assuming I survive the snow…. PANTO!

Actually the second night – myself and Claire are both in the Whixley Village Pantomime!

Oh no you’re not…etc, etc…

Treasure Island – an unusual choice, but great fun!

Claire has a starring role as Lilly, the love interest and one of the protagonists, with a solo song and lots of lines…..and I play pirate number 1, with one line…

Okay, I also play Governor Moneybags and Chief Running Water, but Claire’s the star!

Last night went really well, but the stakes are higher tonight with a bigger audience (and all the family!)

If anyone reads this today, and comes down tonight to Whixley Village Hall (you can get tickets on the door) – we’re running an advert in the programme which may well be worth your while if you’re thinking of getting a service any time soon…. It would have to be tonight though, as Saturday’s matinee and night are sold out!!

Anyway, with that… I resolve to post more regular updates and I’m going for a ride!

Chris out.

Incentives. And shiny.

So, it’s been ages since I’ve done a post (which is bad practice i’m led to believe). People get bored, etc, etc…

But, with good reason!

This blog “thing” is primarily for SEO, Google rankings, brand engagement and is in no way at all, most definitely not about self indulging fantasies about being an inspirational Tolstoy of a generation… Certainly not.

Besides, I had to look up what “impertubability” meant. I would have gone with unflappable, so Tolstoy I aint!

(I’m going with Tolstoy as I quite enjoyed reading Anna Karenin during my recent hospital stay.)

There’s nothing wrong, they were looking for a brain. Alas, the diagnosis is “missing”.

Scarecrow continues; So, although there may be some truth in what the blog is for, truthfully I quite enjoy exploding my thoughts on here and subjecting you to them!

Like the bench. It’s a cool bench, inside the grounds of Knaresborough Castle a few miles away… Good story eh?

As you all know, I very rarely go off on wild tangents…

Incentives! Claire set incentives for me to ensure the business succeeds (as if that’s not incentive enough!) After £1,000 of takings I’m allowed to buy a new seatpost.

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Oh look, a new seatpost! (on the chair next to me awaiting installation!)

Also “ooo shiny” – which I apply to any object, oft mechanical, typically bike related, that I would like. Or appreciate. Or is shiny (even if it’s matt carbon or grey).

So, we’ve reached the heady heights of having taken £1,000 since 2nd December when we opened. Not too bad. We’re now running at a net profit of minus £2,000. Ish, Win? Claire said something about “assets” but I got distracted by some bikes riding past…

It doesn’t stop there! The £2k incentive is a new Rockshox Reverb lever – the one where they realised nobody is running front derailleurs on mountain bikes, why don’t we use a front derailleur paddle to operate the post. That one. (Reverb being a hydraulically operated telescopic seatpost on my mountain bike – obviously!?!?) As Sram and Rockshox are one and the same anyway and I like the Sram levers, being able to actually press it enough to move the post would be a win (i’ve told you before, feeble hands!) Also shiny!

Then both the price point and the cost increase. Substantially. To £10,000. Firstly we should be making actual positive net profit – even I can’t spend that much on tools. (This is a lie, easy!) Secondly, wow, we surely have a customer base now. Thirdly (if this happens this year) I’m nearly making enough to pay rent…. The incentive? (Rent would be a good start, but the lady is kind..) Sram HRD Wi-Fli etap!! A cool £1.3k ish. So, electronic wireless gears for my beloved Cassie! Ooooooo, shiiiiiny! The ability to change gears with feeble hands can’t be overlooked, even for that much!

That also explains a bit of why the blog has been neglected. I was doing the mechanic “thing”.

I built a wheel (my first on an electric hub), I renovated (and sold) a bike. I sorted out a touring bike with exploding tyres. I serviced two kids bikes, a Trek, a Giant, a Specialized, a Pinncale, a Raleigh, a Dawes, etc etc…! Brilliant!

This morning i’ve had a very productive day. I picked up a bike needing a bit of TLC on the other side of York, I dropped off a bike a bit closer to home and I picked up something a bit special (ized). Di2 and an aero post had me rummaging for the charger and the clamp insert. Looking forward to giving it the (s-)works!!

And with that, the four bikes in the house (Claire’s taken her Brompton this morning), and the seven bikes in the garage await!

Oooo, did I mention I found a couple of photos? One of Cora in her former glory being held by the French exchange guy, Charles (left) with Robin and Rosie (brother and sister) also in frame. (Rosie will kill me for this!)

charles

And the other of Cora after being stolen, spray painted and returned. Being ridden over a bench. As you do.

bench

Nice stem. And where’s my helmet?…tut tut… Also featuring Dad’s shoulder…

Needless to say, these are ancient photos (and the front tyre sits on the seat – i’m not mid-faceplant!)

I should say “come and book your bike in”. But you know that already. See you soon.

Chris out

N+1 – Part 13 – Storage

So, obviously, you end up with N+1 bikes and storage….or partners become something of an issue. The very best away to get around this is to find a partner who loves bikes just as much as you… And use a few ingenious storage solutions! It helps if you consider your bikes to be decorative masterpieces of art when they’re stored, at home or *gasp* in the garage :-O

I’ve been lucky enough to end up with Evi, Cassie, Connie AND Cora all with me up here in York – all tuned up and ready to rock!

But first, our storage solution in a London flat, with no shed or garage! This is our living room!

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So, you’ve already met Evi and Cassie, but here are two of Claire’s bikes too – Lexi and Alien!

This actually took up waaaay too much space, so we re-arranged and ended up with this instead.

clugs

So, on the other side of the room, we staggered them so they could be put closer together using either magical levitation….OR, putting toolboxes under the two road bikes!

Oh, and Clugs! To hold the front wheel! Genius!

And…that’s about it…

I think.

At some point, Claire (Or I) will probably cover Claire’s multitude of bikes too!

So you know what to look for…

Alien, Princess Marshmallow, Princess Candyfloss, Lexi and Kylie…

Oh, and one last thing

ALL of our bikes have a surname. McBikeface!

of course…

Hope you enjoyed the multitude of posts!

Page 1 – 11:59, 22/12/18

Chris out.

N+1 – Part 12 – Connie

Which brings us to October…

N+1! I was given a frame years and years ago by a family friend who had no use for it. It had a seized bottom bracket and was quite battered.

What he hadn’t quite realized is that the frame is a Kone Fire Mountain, made by Joe Murray – a designer and racer of some of the very first real mountain bikes – and quite a find!

Regardless, it lay tucked away in my parents shed until we finally had space in the car to bring her (and an assortment of wheels, parts, racks, panniers – and Cora) up to Yorkshire! We’d finally hired a secure unit to store various overflow “stuff”!

The time had come, Connie would be reborn!

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So, here she is! Clipless pedals, simple single speed, Avid Single Digit Levers, and best of all Original Kona Project Two Forks!!! They were quite hard to source, but also something I’d wanted to get my hands on since I saw them in the hallowed pages of MBUK alllll those years ago when this whole “pedal cycling thing” kicked off!

She even has my BRG Brookes B17 touring saddle on (for now) – and, of course, a Hope seat clamp!

A lovely ride, and the latest edition to the flock!

Part 13 – 11:59, 03/01/19

Chris out.