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                                  The History of Prologue Bicycles - By Michael Bennett

 

 

Falling in love with the sport

If I think back far enough, I always rode a bike. From the tricycles at my grandparent’s place in Windsor that my cousin Rob and I would collide into each other to the BMX bikes we both had that we spent our summers riding. It’s funny to think that we were probably riding 4 to 5 hours a day on those bikes and not even realizing that it was training. Growing up in Windsor and going to a catholic school in an Italian area meant Soccer was the sport we all loved and played. Sure, we played road hockey, rugby, baseball, basketball, and volleyball but Soccer always took precedence. I played league soccer in the summer and my poor overworked Mum did her best to get me to every practice and match. I loved the game, but when she couldn’t get me to the matches because she was on evenings as an ER nurse at the hospital I road my bike to the pitch. One of our series of matches was played at the old Ford test track in Windsor and during the match there was the group of 20 or so fully kitted our road cyclists sprint training on the track around the field. I kept looking over at them every time they passed my line of site. Thankfully as a 10-year-old playing left back with a couple of star forwards I didn’t have to do much. After the match, I stayed on the field and watched them for another 20 minutes. Finally, they stopped to have a chat and I went over to ask them who they were. They were wearing Caboto Club kit, so I thought they were soccer players, but they said their sport is much more much and much more difficult. They told me they were preparing or a race in Windsor called “the Windsor Star” criterium (now called the tour di via Italia) on Erie Street. I asked my Mum if we could go watch because it was free. She was pretty cool about it to use her day off to hang out and watch a bunch of skinny dudes on bikes ride around in circles. I thought I was absolutely fascinated by it. We walked into Joe’s cycles and looked at all the different racing bikes.  The colours were amazing, and it was the first time I saw Bianchi Celeste. The prices, however, were so means possible for a single working mother and a father who had just started his working career in social work. Instead, continued to talk about what I saw with my friends and even started sketching road bikes in the evenings but getting a road bike was just out of the question, so I stayed with soccer and my BMX.

The Shop Rat Becomes The Employee

I started in the bicycle industry at age 15 working for a small shop in Huntsville, Ontario with not only aspirations of one day becoming a professional cyclist but also of being able to create a brand of my own. As the case with most kids that first start out working in store, I spent all my money on buying the latest gizmo for your bike based on the assumption that the advertising I was reading or the product reviews I was ingesting rang true and gave a performance advantage or at minimum, an aesthetic one. I started cycling competitively in 1988 and started working in shops in 1991. At this point in time there were still quite a few brands still building bikes in North America and Europe, even at the lower-level price points. It seemed at the peak of the mountain bike boom in 1992 that had all changed. I remember all the new Rocky Mountain bikes arriving with “made in Taiwan” stickers slapped on the head tube. This was also the case with Trek and Marin. Each sales rep came in with a different story about how the quality was just as good and the pricing would go down. The irony was that the quality was as good if not better, but the pricing still escalated from year to year. Considering there was no internet at the time it was difficult to get information about who was making what and where. After much prying from the Trek rep at the time who used to be our Bianchi rep, he had let the worse keep secret in the business out of the bag. Giant and Merida made most of the brands we all know today. 

So, what does all this have to do with the history of Prologue bicycles? I had already began welding and brazing old frames I found at garage sales. Making the type of bikes I wanted but couldn’t find or afford. Cyclocross bikes, time trial bikes, track bikes. My poor parents also had to deal with the noise and smells coming from the basement depending on what the latest creation happened to be what I was working on. I saw firsthand working in store the direction that the bike industry was going. Brands were being acquired and the grand homogenization began. Clients new to the sport didn’t mind and of course fell for the usual lighter, stiffer better than last year jargon. For me, I thought people who were truly passionate about cycling would want to ride something that was not only built for them specifically, but also had the aesthetics that they wanted. If the industry decided that black or red bikes were in fashion than that was all you could by that year regardless of your preference. If you were a bigger rider who needed a stronger tubing or 36-hole wheels, you were out of luck. It was even worse if you were smaller. Finding a road bike to fit a person sub-5’3 was nearly impossible, and most stores made the ridiculous and false assumption that women weren’t interested in competitive cycling so small bikes were rarely if ever in stock. The spring of 1994 was hard for me personally, trying to be competitive in both cross country skiing and cycling led to over training and serious burn out. Getting out of bed for school was difficult let alone thinking of riding a bike. The shop environment in Huntsville had also changed. In a town of 18,000 people there was suddenly 3 bike shops open year-round and the over saturation killed the market. I was getting less hours at the shop I was working at and with all my friends graduating high school and moving on I had to make a decision. 

In my spare time I worked more on my brazing and welding and road a little bit when I felt I had the energy. I kept at this routine most of the spring and by summer I felt I had some energy back. I had to figure out what I was going to do next. I knew I couldn’t race if I stayed in Huntsville. There were no more teams that would provide travel and I didn’t have a driver’s licence let alone a car. It was time to grow up, I was 19. 

Pecco’s and the Ottawa connection

I had family in Ottawa, and I knew that there was a solid race seen their in road, mountain and XC skiing. With the bus system I should be able to get around in the winter and with any luck find a club to race with. My father and I went to Ottawa for the weekend to visit my grandfather and I spent an entire Saturday riding to every shop in town to drop off a resume and inquire if any of them supported a cycling team. I was 19 and most shops were likely leery of a young kid looking for full time work, but I already had 4 years of shop experience as well as 3 years of frame building. Only 2 stores showed any interest in hiring full time as they also sold skis in the winter. Sadly, they were only willing to pay minimum wage ($6.85 CDN per hour). I had no choice, so I took a job with Pecco’s. The only place I found to live on a wage like that was in Stittsville which was a 35 km commute each way. After all my fatigue problems this was a major concern, but rent was high anywhere near downtown where I worked so I was back training without actually training. Working 6 days a week meant I was getting in some serious base miles but getting home in the cold and dark meant no energy for side projects. With what little money was left over I bought a sketch book and math set and began sketching out different frame designs. This was my entertainment at night as I really wanted nothing to do with my roommate at the time. I was in the kitchen long enough to cook and the rest of the time in my room. On my day off…I would ride into Ottawa if the weather was good and spend the day sketching in the park, riding around trying to get some inspiration for a brand name or a frame design, jersey design or even a display. By November this was impossible. The freezing rain had hit, and commuting became dangerous. After much deliberation I managed to convince two friends from high school to let me live on their enclosed deck.  Finding a used mattress outside of the derelict building and a roll of scrap carpet I managed to make do.  Now I could walk, ride or take the bus on all but the worse days.  Building bikes in that apartment was basically impossible so I kept sketching. My roommate and best friend from high school was studying business management at Algonquin college and suggested that I should likely register the business name now so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the possibility of someone using the name in the same industry. So off I went to city hall to sort out what needed to be done. It was about $70 at the time, and I thought that was about 2 weeks groceries, so I better save up a bit more. Finances were really that tight. This is one of the reasons that my employees get paid a living wage today as no one should have to go through that, especially with the technical knowledge required to work in the bike industry at a competent level. At the end of April 1995 another move was pending. My two roommates were going back to Huntsville for the summer, and I had to sort out another place to live. As luck would have it one of my coworkers at Pecco’s was moving in with his girlfriend and had a room for rent in a proper house in Aylmer QC. The exciting thing was that there was a fully functional basement that I could set up shop in. By this point I had only built 4 frames and was riding one regularly that really stood up to all the commuting. The cost of living dropped slightly, and I was up now earning a whopping $8 per hour at Pecco’s. This was still difficult to make ends meet let alone start a company, yet I knew I had to do something as there was no way I could stay working where I was and make a living. I didn’t have the best working relationship with the manager at Pecco’s at this time and it all came to a crunch when I started keeping track of my sales and use that number to leverage them into a raise to at least $9. That was taken as a sign of arrogance, and I was subsequently laid off. 

Ironically another friend and employee got the same treatment not more than a week before. I was in a panic mode with little savings and no credit. My friend Bob Webber got me involved with the self-employment assistance program which provided you with up to a year of 50% of your net income so that you could solely focus on getting your business off the ground. It wasn’t much. Take home was around $750 a month, down from $1100 at Pecco’s but I wasn’t working 50 hours per week for someone else. I maximized the amount of free research available through the program was well as some free accounting courses. I joined the Ottawa Bicycle Club racing team and started to get out to more events to show off my bike and get a name for myself. I finally registered my company under “Prologue endurance sports” and opened a business account. Working from home meant not very many distributors were willing to open their inventory to you. As frustrating as that was then it is something that I completely understand today. It’s a crowded industry with many enthusiasts getting involved with little or no technical knowledge of running a shop just want to get goods at wholesale for themselves and their friends. All winter of 1995 I built a bunch of different frames to try out and was even painting them in the garage so that by 1996 I was ready to go. I managed to convince a few distributors to open for us on the promise that our goal was to go store front ASAP. The spring of 1996 was a good one. I was training a lot and building wheels, doing repairs in my basement, and building about a frame a month. I moved from senior 4 to senior 2 in one season of racing with the Ottawa Bicycle Club which I really must thank for their organisation and travel services. Even a win came in that season. I managed to find a balance between racing and work, but winters were still tricky. I would work odd jobs at ski shops, flower shops, coffee shops, whomever I could work for to get by. If I sold a bike, I could make the profit last for the better part of a month. By 1997 everything had changed, my phone was ringing on a regular basing, and I needed a better space to live and work from. My roommate in Aylmer and fellow cyclist Angus Henry had suggested a move to the market. His mother had a house on St Patrick Street that was commercially zoned, and I could work from with proper signage. I felt like things were really moving forward. Mountain biking seemed to have peaked in terms of cross country and road had begun its steady comeback. It was also the peak of the tech boom in Ottawa, so people had much more interest in premium custom bikes. We were not only selling Prologue bike but also Colnago, Pinarello, Hinault and Time. All this from a 100-year-old house on St Patrick Street with concave floors. 1997 was a good year for me from a business and racing standpoint. I felt I finally adjusted to the racing speeds of senior 1/2 and I was seriously starting to think of what to do next. My parents had moved out of Huntsville to the hamlet of Emsdale into a small place but with lots of property. My father had bought a ski groomer and made some trails and the two of us came up with this wacky idea to open a ski store to possibly emulate hardwood hills. Despite spring and summer being stellar for bikes I hated the uncertainty of the winter in Ottawa. I also really needed to know how hard the sport of cycling can be. I was careful with the money I had and decided to help my father and stepmother start up their store. I also had saved enough money to give racing in Europe a shot.  No one was going to pay my way there and I wasn’t a big fish in the small pond of Ottawa. I wasn’t entitled to convince people to fund me. I never believed in that anyway.  It had to be about me and my work ethic. So I made the decision to move to Emsdale and would basically buy in and work for room and board. I built and sold a few bikes over the winter to have a bit of spending money. When the shop was slow, which was a lot in its first year I had managed to finish my high school diploma, learn how to use accounting and AutoCAD software, and still train 20 hours a week outside of a 50-hour work week. At the end of March, I was ready to go to Roubaix, France. I had one columbous SL prologue which I still have to this day, a spare frame and a spare set of 36 spoke bomb proof Ambrosio wheels. The Club was very accommodating, they found me a place to stay where I did chores to pay my room and board and helped the owners with their English. I had no palmaris, so the team let me work off my race costs by repairing broken frames, building wheels, and gluing tubulars. The racing was incredibly difficult. I managed to finish 2 races in the 3 months I was there. I was lucky enough to start the amateur Paris Roubaix only to crash out hard at the first set of cobbles in trois ville. It was a difficult experience, but I gained a lot of knowledge about the sport at the elite amateur level and more importantly of the bike business in a country where the sport mattered. The club was sponsored by MBK bikes at the time but most of the top guys were riding bikes made by local frame builders to their specs painted as MBK. I even painted my prologue green not to create any issues with the club as I felt they really gave me an opportunity. By the end of May that year I knew that I was not going to get anywhere as a professional cyclist and didn’t want to race domestically and mooch of my parents. They didn’t have a lot of money and I felt they already did enough when I was a junior. I was 23 at this point and a full-blown adult. I had responsibilities to them and the ski store as well as to the Prologue bike brand. If I was to have a future in cycling…this is what it was going to be.

June 1 first I came back to Canada. I was pretty burnt out but managed to come home somewhat revenue neutral. The first year of the ski store didn’t go very well as with most startups. To keep things going I managed to beg my way into Deer Hurst resort as a waiter and bartender. This was to be the saving grace to keeping not only my parents ski business alive but my bicycle company. I was again riding back and forth to work about 35 km each way, many times riding home at 2 am. I managed to stay fit and save money at the same time. 

September 1998 was another big turn in the bike industry. Steel race bikes were almost non-existent.  I could tig weld aluminum but there was nowhere to heat treat the frames. It was at this point where I had to bite the bullet and go from being a frame builder to being a frame designer. That September I met an engineer from Taiwan who came to the Canadian bicycle trade show to display what his factory could do with steel, titanium, and aluminum frames. As busy as the show was hardly anyone stopped by his both. I spent about 2 hours speaking with him on the Saturday and again on the Sunday at this point I bought up a couple of sample frames he had in my size and took them home to build up and test.  After riding for about a month in all kinds of weather on the gravel back roads of Emsdale and Seguin falls as well as some rail to trail I was able to see how well these frames were built. The geometry needs some tweaking but overall, they were impressive. Two weeks later I had booked a flight to Taipei and went to see the factory firsthand. I had never been to Taiwan. I had no idea what to expect. I bought a “lonely planet” guidebook and read through most of it on the long flight the stretched over 32 hours.  My impression was a country of warehouses and people working non-stop. Unlike like their Chinese counterparts this is not the case. It is very beautiful country and very clean. Having met Andrew at the train station in Taichung city we immediately went to the factory for a tour. It was a small factory with about 25 employees. Most of their clients have his factory build prototypes before they are then shipped off for most cost effected manufacturing in China. I told him I had no interest in that as we were a small company the focus on quality first and were willing to pay for that. He was very happy to hear that as he had no interest in producing 100 frames in one size, geometry, and colour over and over. I sat down with him, and we talked about some designs I had for aluminum, aluminum with carbon inserts and titanium.  We took a couple of days to sort out the designs to make sure I had the geometry I wanted as well as a few other specifics such as tire clearance, braze ons and head tube standards. 2 months later the first 25 frames arrived and even painted to our specs. I knew that I needed to test most of them personally.  I built up 2 road, a touring, MTB and a time trial frame over the winter. Trainer time was all I could do with them until winter was over. At this point I was working at the ski store from 10 to 6 and from Deer Hurst from 7 to midnight. This continued until spring until the ski store closed for the summer. At this point I begin to ride regularly back and forth to work as well as gravel rides on my day off. I was busy saving all my paychecks in hopes of eventually getting this company started but I still felt I need more knowledge on the import side of things. 

Strange things can really lead to a paradigm shift. I was getting very tired of the restaurant business and all its idiosyncrasies when out of left field a whole group of servers were let go at the end of the summer, me included. The ski store was about to reopen but I refused to draw a salary, so it meant being very careful over the following winter. By this point, it was much easier to research products on the internet and I was really impressed with these companies that were popping up in the UK and most had frames built in Taiwan or China. If I was going to do this properly, I would need to spend some time there to understand the logistics of this side of the bicycle business. It was a big risk, but I applied for a working holiday permit and was off to the UK to see if I could work in one of these shops for 6 months to get a grip on how this is done properly. This turned out to be much more difficult than expected. I couldn’t find a shop in London that was doing anything remotely similar to what I was planning on doing and places like Condor and Roarke were not going to hire and guy on a working holiday…..this lead to survival mode which meant working in a pub and firing out resumes everywhere. I had eventually come across an ad looking for a sales manager and importer for Sportful in Italy. They had just acquired Castelli and really wanted to make a big push into North America. It was a 3-months stint in Fonzaso before going back to North American to sell the clothing. I sent them my resume along with copies of sketches I had done of clothing for Prologue in the past. Out of pure luck the international sales manager was an American named Steve Smith who gave me a ring and I was out of England and on my way to Italy. This was a very interesting learning experience but not only had they acquired an iconic brand they were in the process of really creating another with Sportful at the peak of the Mapei days. After the 3 months was over it was time to return to Canada and the search for a location began. This means some serious work in terms of saving money. I took a job back at Pecco’s assembling bikes as my friend Eric was now running the shop and I felt he respected my abilities; I also needed a night job to keep the extra cash coming in to start properly. This meant back to working in a pub and the long grind began.  When you are working 16 hours a day it isn’t hard to save money. I didn’t take a day off for a year.  I felt I had enough to put a deposit down on a commercially zoned building that I could work out of. So, my friend Bob, now a real estate agent, who got me involved in the self-employment assistance program started house hunting. The prices hadn’t gone totally off the rails in Ottawa at this point but the frustrating things with Banks and mortgage brokers is that they will never give a mortgage to someone who is self-employed and or working as a server because of the tip factor.  After 2 and a half years of burying myself, I felt I would never get the building I needed. The Most successful businesses own their location. Rent control in the commercial world is non-existent and most independents eventually get pushed out. So, this meant another major decision. I was burnt out again and was not even cycling. I had sold some frames here and their but not having a storefront or a website made it very difficult. I clearly was not ready.  I started surfing around on the net trying to figure out of there was a way to just become an online company and work from home. eBay wasn’t very old and hadn’t been cluttered up with the China direct product.  My concern was this, if I sold on eBay then people would assume the quality was subpar. I had the factory make the frame to specs using Columbus tubing for the alloys and T 700 for the carbon inserts. I tried once and sure enough it was not the client you want. Knowledge of price but not of construction, geometry or any of the things that matter when building a bicycle frame.  So again, I went the local route. Some of my old racing friends were still at it. They were happy to buy up some frames. I still wasn’t sure what to do as once I was out of frames was it worth it to import more.

At this point, the working relationship with my father really started to deteriorate. We were at year six and the last two years I was driving every weekend from Ottawa to Huntsville and back. Revenue in the ski store was growing but it was still nowhere near profitable, and his summer spending habits hadn’t been curbed. He was an incredibly strong-willed Patriarch that had and short fuse and difficulty accepting constructive criticism. He was a keen fan of cycling and XC ski racing, but his health and habits really kept him from being consistent in his training which greatly affected his mood. He was susceptible to drinking to relieve stress and went through numerous weight gains and losses. We generally had a good relationship but it was never easy if he had a bad day at work or was drinking. As a kid I wasn’t a terribly good student but was a good athlete. The pressure was always on to perform at every event and still try to get by in school. This led to numerous confrontations over the years making it very difficult to have a father and son relationship let alone work together. Our time in business together was tumultuous at best. He was a proud man and having a son who had a greater knowledge base of the business that we were in made it incredibly difficult to work together. Even just covering the basic rules of retail meant an argument (ie: don’t discuss politics with potential clients, don’t have a beer on your lunch break) This was a big reason for me going to Australia for a year yet most evenings during the Canadian winter meant phone calls back home to sort out supply issues, accounting issues or ski testing. It really damaged our relationship. I would be working 60-hour weeks in the spring summer to make sure we had money for stock whilst he would go golfing all summer, drink and put on weight. It affected our image, and I was tired of it. I took the approach that it I was losing money and doing the majority of the work while being told that I wasn’t necessary I would say “make it on our own then.” After one winter, they through in the towel.   

Whilst surfing the net one night I came across an ad promoting Canadian working holiday in Australia.  Just like England I though ok maybe I can find a job at an Aussie company and learn something. This time however, it worked. I managed to sell all my frames and told all the new owners that my plan was to be back in a year. A month later I touched down in Perth Australia.  2003 was a peak year for road cycling, the lance effect was huge, the Aussies had a bunch of contenders for the green and yellow jerseys and there were 110 shops in Perth and at least one needed a guy with importing experience. After riding around all over the city and dropping of resumes I got a call back from Dennis Bazerman’s at The Bicycle Entrepreneur. They had three successful shops in Perth and were also importing their own line of bikes as well as Eddy Merckx bikes and Nalini clothing. It was the most organized shop I had ever been in. Amazing inventory system managed all the shops plus the warehouse. They had an in-house design team for their own bikes and aspired of further expansion. I did everything from selling on the floor to designing frames as well as advertisement management.  The store was heavily involved with the racing community but the general cycling community as well. It was also the first time I had worked in a shop that paid a living wage. I could work a 40-hour week and enjoy my life. I started racing again even though I was 28.  I got to ride all the premium brands on the market, Colnago, Merckx, Pinarello as well as some of their TBE carbon and aluminum prototypes. I felt this made a big difference as I was able to really feel that once your position was set up that they all felt great after an hour or so. It occurred to me that if you made a high-quality frame and didn’t come up with some awkward geometry that all frames are similar including the prototypes from TBE. Since I had worked directly with the prototype carbon factory with TBE I decide to come up with some carbon lay ups that I could use to fine tune their existing molds. This experience was crucial in terms of Prologue finally getting its doors open. Coming back to Ottawa in May 2004 I felt that I was finally armed with what I needed. My father and stepmother finally decided to sell the property that the store was on and were lucky enough to recoup their losses. I managed to get $10,000 out of the deal which was a fraction of what I put into the place but at the same time I knew that I had made it this far without handouts that I could work miracles with $10K. So, I did what I thought was best and took on 2 jobs while getting back into the local racing seen. Within the first 4 months I was able to find a place that I could live and work out of. It was a large 5-bedroom house with a finished basement which I could convert into a fitting studio. The rent was reasonable, and the landlord was amazing to work with. That fall I put in an order for 20 aluminum frames and 10 carbon frames. I had bought a vinyl plotter to made decals and designs to add some options to the frames and I was ready to go. As before I spent all of 2005 riding the frames myself before releasing them into the public. Spring 2006 I was ready. 

Here is the biggest mistake you can make in this business. I thought that I needed to make a big impression and I still had more of a racer mentality rather than a business mentality and I thought the best thing to do was to start a race team and have a fully sponsored women’s race team. This was a substantial investment that ended in total disaster. If there is one thing you can learn in any business is that just because you behave professionally with people that others will behave professionally with you.  To me sponsorship is a contractual obligation.  If you are sponsored by a company than you should be sending business to that company. You should be showing up at events where you are paid to be at, you should respect the financial commitment from your sponsor and realize that they are helping you to promote their business. So many times, I have heard from athletes that “I never asked for all this free stuff.” My answer is, well you took it so here are the obligations that go with it. By summer the women’s team collapsed, I had a bad crash and broke my arm and had to deal with one of the guys on the men’s team feel that he needed to publicly bash our team in order to fit in with the cool crowd. When the season was over, I was completely obliterated. I could not believe that grown adults could have like this. The blessing was that the rest of the guys and one girl stayed loyal to us, and it gave me something to build on. Despite the financial losses of the team, the company itself did quite well. I was able to do another large order of frames and for the first time, carbon time trial frames. I felt that it was possible to start fresh in 2007.

My girlfriend at the time was working on her masters in France and since expenses were quite low in the building, I had rented I thought I could go stay with her for part of the winter and possibly get some industry insight from France as well as work on my French language skills. Having acquired a a couple of very generous sponsors in the fall I was feeling confident that the team could turn things around as well as add to the success of Prologue bikes. Well, working in France is basically impossible with the language skills I had so I rode a tonne and spent time designing a totally new team kit. The colours were changed as well as who made the kit. Oddly enough I was getting more and more emails from people that wanted to join the team. Many were independents from the local criteriums or people that have just moved to Ottawa. I wrote up a pamphlet describing who we are, where we want to be as well as what was to be expected. We are hobby racers, so it really came down to discounts and team support at races. The team suddenly swelled to 60 members. I was shocked considering I didn’t have a store front and just a website that showcased the prologue bikes we only had 4 models at this point but blogged about local cycling news. The season went well not only in terms of sales, but we even had some half decent results. When the season was up 4 of us had moved from senior 3 to senior 2 and we had a solid master’s scene. We only had one cadet at this point who would later go on to be the national senior champion. At this time the other teams and clubs were treating him like shit…now they praise him like they had something to do with his success. It’s a shame that people behave this way as it really discourages growth of the sport. I think his success is attributed to the support of his family and talent on the bike. He did race for us for a few years, and I spent countless hours and money helping him but frankly I take zero credit in his success. It’s a shame that he ignores us now and spends time with those that wouldn’t acknowledge his talent when he was younger. Some things are unforgivable.

2007 also marked the loss of my father to Cancer. He had been diagnosed in Dec 2004 only a few months after retiring from the ski shop and moving to PEI to relax and try to run a small B&B. He was a keen fan of cycling and XC ski racing, but his health and habits really kept him from being consistent in his training.  He was susceptible to drinking to relieve stress and went through numerous weight gains and losses.  We generally had a good relationship, but it was never easy if he had a bad day at work or was drinking.  As a kid I wasn’t a terribly good student but was a good athlete. The pressure was always on to perform at every event and still try to get by in school. This led to numerous confrontations over the years making it very difficult to have a father and son relationship let alone work together. Our time in business together was tumultuous at best. He was a proud man and having a son who had a greater knowledge base of the business that we were in made it incredibly difficult to work together. This was a big reason for me going to Australia for a year yet most evenings during the Canadian winter meant phone calls back home to sort out supply issues, accounting issues or ski testing. It really damaged our relationship. I would be working 60-hour weeks in the spring summer to make sure we had money for stock whilst he would go golfing all summer, drink and put on weight. It effected our image, and I was tired of it.   

2008 was a Steller year for the club, we had a full junior racing team winning 6 Ontario cup races all on prologue bikes, and the masters had numerous wins.  We even had wins in triathlon. In 2008, Carlo Dal-cin, a team sponsor and Father of Matteo Dal-cin had decided that he wanted to invest in another property and considering that I was in the hunt for a proper store front it seems that it could be a likely match. If you can buy a building and have a tenant off the crack, you are doing quite well. 13 Bullman street was acquired in winter of 2007 and Carlo, and I had spent the winter months renovating it.  I would work for him on his other properties during the day and head to bull to work in the evening. By July 2008 the shop was ready to open but not without its complications.  We were stuck on the second floor until September until the tenant on the main floor agreed to give us some of the first floor to work from. Having turned the top floor into a living space the shop was put into a 10x10 room on the ground floor where I had a small desk and some bikes on display. The basement housed the repair area down a little hall and in a tiny back room. Needless to say, working like this wasn’t easy. At the end of February, the ground floor tenant had moved out and we were finally able to use the rest of the space. Of course, the rent would go up with the acquired new space, but I was confident sales would go up as well. In March 2009 the store was on the ground floor with the training center in the basement and living quarters upstairs. This came to $2850 a month including utilities which was reasonable. It was commercial but not Main Street so there was some advantage over the other shops, yet we had to contend with no walk by traffic.