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The plight of bike shops, and the high street in general, really hit home last week when I heard the news that Geoffrey Butler Cycles was to close. When I graduated from university in 1998 and just wanted to race my bike, I was lucky enough to get a part-time job in the well-known Croydon shop.
I learnt a huge amount about how the industry worked, what customers wanted (and needed, sometimes two very different things), and from sitting and eating my lunch in the workshop, got some excellent tips and tricks from a brilliant mechanic. I also learned how to make a good cup of tea.
It was a thriving shop and mail-order business back then, and while there were days we wouldn’t see a customer for hours on end, there were others when the shop was so busy we didn’t stop for a break until it was time to lock up and head home.
You’d get to deal with regular customers who’d bring us cake and sit and chat for hours, but also have to try and placate others whose order had somehow gone wrong, who hurled insults down the phone.
They really were my formative years in the sport and I look back on them with great fondness.
Cycling Weekly magazine editor
My highlights this week
- When can we all race again?
- 500km non-stop riding around Herne Hill
- World champ Lucinda Brand’s training regime
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