Life In The Loops - A Bicycle Store, But To Me A Bit More

Apr 11, 2013 at 2:00
Apr 11, 2013
by Dylan Sherrard  
 
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I recall my first visit to the Cafe that doesn't sell coffee like it was only yesterday. I was sixteen years old with a sketchy hairdo, cut off sleeves, and scraggly chin hairs hoping to someday become a beard. It was my first adventure away from home and satisfying my huge curiosity about Kamloops was quickly developing into a lot more than I'd initially bargained for. I briefly stopped in to purchase a tube before embarking on my first ever ride down the famous Rose Hill trail and the welcoming I received was nearly overwhelming.

Despite my questionable appearance I was greeted with smiles and ecstatic conversation from a tall curly haired man wrenching toward the back. I couldn't believe the perkiness of this man and his coworkers or the loud music that spilled from the stereo speakers beneath the shelves. A simple yet clever rendering of a helicopter was plastered all over everything and kids were telling jokes while drinking pop on a big leather coach. The atmosphere was more reminiscent of a mellow house party than that of a business and the inviting nature of that scene was almost too pleasant. I purchased my tube and left the shop with an urge to return soon.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

Even on my initial visit it appeared as if something so much more than bicycle retail was taking place inside that building. Everyone laughed and smiled and there was friendship between customers and coworkers. Large blown-up photos of local riders decorated the empty spaces between bicycles on the walls and there was clearly support for the local scene. Riders treated the parking lot as a meeting place before rides and a tailgate party venue once they were finished. It felt like something special was happening, but realistically, what else beyond the sale and repair of bicycles could really be going on in that small retail space?

As time would teach me, there was indeed something considerably larger happening at the Bicycle Cafe that scorching August afternoon. Something much larger than the Hawaiian Cinder and Burnt Almond colored concrete walls could ever contain. Something that transcends the thousands of annual tune-ups or bicycle sales and reaches out into the cycling community with strong hands. Something that several years later would become very close to me and help me grow to be the rider that I am today.

FROM CANMORE IT CAME
The Bicycle Cafe Kamloops became the product of two punk-rockers who shared an immense, nearly life consuming passion for bicycles.

Cheryl Beattie was a young entrepreneur who raced downhill and called Canmore home. Although she remains forever modest about her results as a racer, a sizable stack of medals would lead anyone to believe there must be more of a story than she is willing to let on. Cheryl cleaned up frequently at races all over the west coast during the late 90’s but never felt motivated to pursue racing as a pro. She also owned a record store named 'Substance Music'. When she wasn't shredding trails she was stomping through the crowd at punk shows. She loved bands like 'Sam I Am', 'No Means No' and 'Screeching Weasel'.

Taylor was a few years younger when he grew weary of the prevalent childish antics that claimed many of his hometown riding buddies in Kamloops. Moving to Canmore to work as a plumber meant he could continue living an extended childhood of racing dual slalom and digging his own dirt jumps instead of wasting all his time and energy on partying. Taylor was a pretty laid back dude but he too loved a loud punk show. Although he had an impressive list of film segments and race titles decorating his resume, Taylor skipped on the idea of a professional cycling career and carried on with doing things his own way.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

It shouldn’t sound surprising that stars would collide when these two characters first crossed trails as Cheryl checked Taylor’s coat at a party one evening. One drunken fumbling of a phone number lead to another, and a companionship was born. It wasn’t long until they started traveling and riding as a couple, even working together as Taylor merged from plumbing to selling records at Substance.

There was talk of moving to Squamish but as their relocation plans developed, a series of large opportunities and coincidences appeared before them and it became apparent that setting up shop in Kamloops would provide them with a great chance at living their dreams. There was a bike store clearly missing in the city which left a large gap in the brands being represented and the customers being served. So with a few select partners they began building an empire on the shared values of great service and long term relationships with customers and companies alike. They wanted to sell not only the bikes but the cycling lifestyle that can go with them. Cheryl and Taylor had a crystal clear plan of how things should develop and day-by-day they stepped closer to making it so.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

As the shop grew larger each year, riding would unfortunately take a back seat. Cheryl stopped racing in 2003 and Taylor followed suit. Running a shop was more stressful than they had imagined and their focus on the success of the Bicycle Cafe would mean much less time on the trails.

Years down the road that investment proved to be priceless as the Bicycle Cafe became a mainstay in the Kamloops cycling scene. The store had reached and exceeded each of its owners initial goals and is now a recognizable entity within the global cycling community, even receiving such flattery as an imitation store in the Czech Republic.

THE BICYCLE CAFE COLLECTVE
As the store has pushed past the test of time to establish itself as the empire it is today, Cheryl and Taylor haven’t been the only characters playing important roles in the story. The store has always had a reputation for a staff of passionate riders with exceptional knowledge of the bicycles displayed on the showroom floor and an equally impressive understanding of how to unleash those bikes on the local trails.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

Remembering employees of days gone by, Brock Smith and Brad Hughes both quickly came to mind. Brock and Brad were avid riders who could be placed anywhere in the store and excel with whatever task was presented. Brad is in contention for the keenest Cafe staff member of all time while Brock is often spoken of as a game-changing employee who drew from his long history of wrenching to fabricate excellence in the workshop.

At present, Alex Neely is a stand-out mechanic who customers recognize for wizardry with brakes and post-work parking lot burn-outs. He assembles bikes with an attention for fine details and adjustments that will surpass the needs of even the most particular riders and he continually delivers consistency. Alex has been an employee of the Bicycle Cafe for over 6 years and is regarded as the 'go to guy' by many of the area’s gnarliest riders.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

A much more recent addition to the roster is Lachlan Sillitoe who arrived from Australia early last summer. Incredibly polite and organized to a T, he is often mistaken as a young British man and he continually refines the inner workings of the store. It appears as though Lachy has been sucked in and cemented to the scene the same way I once was, and he doesn’t anticipate a departure in his near future.

A SMALL COMMUNITY OF ITS OWN
When Cheryl and Taylor first opened the store they dreamed of selling not only bikes, but the lifestyle that goes with them. Over the years of fuelling on the stoke of success and feeling little stress, they’ve been able to reach into the community and make that dream a reality.

From miniature downhill racers who are still too young to collect points, to the poster boys of the brands sold in store, the Cafe shows strong support for all riders who share in their vision. From local calendar pages to magazine covers, Cheryl and Taylor have helped riders to achieve their dreams. And somewhere between kids camps and local events focused on fun, the Cafe has collaborated with Kamloops to create a riding community who’s tidal waves of stoke can be felt rippling toward every extremity of the globe.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

Those waves first reached me in the Yukon when I was still just a grom. Several years after my first visit to the Cafe, my chin hairs finally became a beard and I've been a part of their scene for what feels like forever. If it weren't for the already established action taking place when I first got to know the people of the Cafe, things probably never would have turned out the way they did for me.

I've been riding for the Cafe since 2006 and working with Cheryl and Taylor since 2008. When they gave me a jersey and posted photos of me on their website several years ago I had my first daydreams of someday living a life completely consumed by cycling. Each spring they made sure my bikes were dialled and ready to roll for the year. They introduced me to key players at the brands I work with today and made sure I was around to ride and shoot when the big-dawgs came to town. I've been a part of many amazing things and a lot of them have grown from within the walls of the store.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

Although I'm a lot more independent these days, the Cafe is still just as important to my riding as ever. They keep my bikes rolling tip top and even keep me employed despite my sometimes wishy-washy schedule of aimless bicycle wandering. Over the years that they have continued to support me, their existence in my life has elevated far beyond the status of being employers or sponsors.

After all these years, it is hard to imagine the cycling community of Kamloops without a Cafe that sells bicycles rather than coffee. The two are synonymous in my mind and one could never exist so gloriously without the other.

CHOPPERS ON THE HORIZON
It’s difficult to tell the story of how things came to be and not question where things are destined to travel. So I can't help but wonder what’s next for the Bicycle Cafe.

It doesn't appear as though a grand scheme of global domination lies anywhere in the sights of this bike stores owners. If you ask either Cheryl or Taylor about the future of the store, neither of them bolts to a perfect posture to begin rattling off a list of to-do’s and ta-da’s. Rather, they will each scrunch their lips and quietly look to the side for a moment before modestly claiming that they simply hope to always grow better with time.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

They hope to always learn how to fix things faster and deal with issues more efficiently. Keep the best products in stock and stay on top of what works best for all the new trails and trends that will surely turn up.

With such honest and simple goals in mind it would appear that the future will be bright for the Bicycle Cafe as they continue to provide the wholehearted smile seen gleaming on the faces of riders as they pedal the long flowing trails of Kamloops.

Chillin at the Bicycle Cafe. Matt Miles Photo.

Article photography courtesy of Matt Miles.
To keep up with Dylan between columns, follow him on Twitter, Facebook and the Kona Cog.
Life In the Loops Banners
Header images by Blake Jorgenson
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46 Comments

  • + 52
 Long Live the LBS! May you keep us into and on bikes forever..
  • + 6
 here here !! *cheers*
  • + 3
 It's my dream to run a store like the one described in the opening paragraph. My father, brother and I have thought about it for years.. A place where riders come not just for what they need to put on their bike, but where they find like-minded people and where they actually enjoy spending time. Thanks again Dylan, your column never fails to stoke.
  • + 1
 the one time i went ther to get a tire true and some spokes replaced on the way to whistler i met dylan and he is the coolest nicest dude. that bike shop is dope, the one thing i definately remember is the dog!! haha i thot he was fake or dead when i first got ther
[Reply]
  • + 14
 " life in the loops " is getting more and more interesting and deep every time ... props for this !

A magnificent homage for people which have realized their dream , helped a community to grow and make , big or small kid's dreams come true ( your's in particular beardo fella ) .


Canada and Camloops are definitely the best places on earth !

Cheers from france Smile
  • + 1
 Shame on me !
  • + 1
 Hahahaha ^^
[Reply]
  • + 8
 Fantastic article, one that really shows the asset that a great shop can be to a community, and to peoples lives.

Oh, and Matt Miles, the photos were swell, but I thinks it's time we see you in front of the lense, not behind it ;-)
[Reply]
  • + 4
 ahhh.....The Cafe is so synonymous with the Loops. done the parking lot tailgate party thing, brews after the ride, morning hookups at the shop to meet new people. urgent mid day purchases to keep me riding. every rider out of the Cafe I've met has been so chill and friendly. good times. Cheryl has hooked me up in the past and helped me out. love The Loops, love The Cafe. thanks for everything. so many good days of riding, so many great days on the road, and amazing trails. great people in Kamloops regards. your friend from the south
  • + 1
 Do they have a website or what is their phone number?
  • + 1
 theres just something about hanging with like minded people wihtout the drama and politics of the daily grind/9-5 job
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Was just in the Loops last weekend and can vouch that everything the article says is true. Few places in the world have such a cool, laid back, friendly and inclusive scene, and a lot of it starts out with the atmosphere and vibe of the local shops. Everyone we met (including Cheryl and Mr. Sherrard himself at the Bicycle Cafe) was super cool and went out of their way to be helpful. A huge shout out to Dylan from Mostly Mental Shuttles/Full Boar bikes as well, who got out of bed early on Sunday morning just to help shuttle us and our gear up for a lap of "that famous Rose HIll trail". It's obvious that the Kamloops MTB community cares, and I will support that every chance I get. Cheers Kamloops!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Best shop I have ever dealt with!! No matter where I am in the world, they've helped me out and hooked me up!! In early 2011 I was in Australia and Cheryl knew I wanted a demo 8 2. She messaged me letting me know they were becoming very hard to get and said I should get on it! Next thing you know, I came back from my trip and there was a brand new demo 8 waiting for me in the shop!!! Love these guys!! I would trust Taylor and Alex with anything at all! Even the strangest issues, I can garuntee they've seen it and fixed it! Wink
  • + 1
 Do you by chance know their phone number?
  • + 2
 250-828-2453
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Def too bad not to see any mention of the original Cafe in Canmore. Not to belittle what they've done in Kamloops - awesome shop! The Canmore Cafe was a huge influence for me as a teen and I've since gone on to open my own shop. I'm surely not the only other one out there that used Bri's Cafe as a model in some way.
  • + 2
 Mr. shred hard was simply sharing a story on how this bike store influence's him and his community..not to be mistaken for a bike cafe add or a complete history lesson on how it came to be.. Although its sounds like you have a story of your own? do tell! another cafe of great influence???
  • + 2
 Thanks Billy! I'm stoked you always get the picture. Rusty4077 - Big Bri is one of the most bad ass mountain cycling men around and I am glad to be able to call him a friend. His shop in Canmore certainly did play a big influence on the development of the Kamloops shop, but this article was about the shop that I have come to know so personally. Big Brian and his shop are whole different story to tell.
  • + 1
 Booyah for the Canmore Cafe! I bought my VERY FIRST mountain bike there... I can still remember it clearly. An ugly beyond sin Kona (black and red) Caldera. Definitely a great place back in the day.
That being said, the Canmore shop never developed quite the same culture as a hub for local riders and they have gone a little commercial for me (lots of fancy display cases with overpriced gear) and don't do a whole lot to organize local rides so I've shifted through a few LBS's over the years. Next was Couloir, great bunch of guys with a no-bullshit approach to selling you the right gear for a good price. Unfortunately they went broke when they switched locations (tough to keep up in Canmore, its a bloody competitive market there) and I've had to switch to Rebound Cycles. I can tell you for a fact that Robin Williams hangs out there semi-regularly (apparently he's buds with the owner), and is hilarious when he tries to "take over" the repair side of the shop. What I like about Rebound is that they've managed to get away from the elitist atmosphere that they once had, prices are more competitive now and best of all they run regular local rides and have a great bunch of guys in the shop willing to share advice.
So basically what Im saying is that I have always loved my LBS and this story brought back great memories!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Thanks for the pics and story. Used to live in Kamloops 2003-8, and the Cafe was definitely one of the highlights! I was definitely a regular shopper, and Cheryl would drop 15% off of my purchases without a question. Didn't expect it but certainly appreciated that gesture of gratitude from Cheryl and Taylor. Good luck in the future.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I'm not a local, but these guys rebuilt a wheel for me overnight when I was on the middle of a road trip back in 2007, and that allowed me to carry on riding the next day. So props for that!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 awesome story...more inspiration & motivation for our little piece of the pie! Support your L.B.S...regardless of the bike brands...
[Reply]
  • + 2
 great article! nice to see a successful shop in a 'small' bc town getting some recognition!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 check out Mojo Cafe in SF, CA. similar concept but in the city.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 my name's nate buria and I want to make a bike shop called Buria's bikes and burritos
[Reply]
  • + 2
 That looks awesome! Wish we had one of those out here in Encinitas!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Perfect! Thanks for sharing this story Just added this to the list of places to check out soon
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i do love my bikeshop too... RED SHREDS!=)
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I wish we had room for a couch in our shop...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 u've got some very cute dog m8
Awesome boxer Razz
[Reply]
  • - 3
 Um, hmmmm. So no mention of the original Bicycle Cafe in Canmore that started it all? I was going there in the late 90's, Brian the owner founded the style of shop, leather couch hangout in the front, bike or skate videos all the time. The kind of shop you could pull in the back, borrow some tools , fix your bike and off to the trails. It was a friend of Brian's who came up with the chopper logo. I did the store hour decals for the front door in 2000!

it's a shame there was not even a hint of the origins of the Cafe!
  • + 2
 Yeah, Big Bri is the man, still riding and racing!
  • + 4
 Big Bri is one of the most bad ass mountain cycling men around and I am glad to be able to call him a friend. His shop in Canmore certainly did play a big influence on the development of the Kamloops shop, but this article was about the shop that I have come to know so personally. Big Brian and his shop are whole different story to tell.
  • + 1
 Agreed on the bad ass, the man can ride! A brief mention would have been nice, at one point there were riders from that shop appearing on major mountain bike magazine covers" Not dissing the Loops shop at all, just props to Big Bri, he always treated us like rock stars!
  • + 2
 @Bomadics, if your not dissing it then why mention it in this article about another shop entirely? Sounds interesting about Big Brian, do a story yourself. Looking forward to it.
  • + 1
 Well if you're writing about how a shop was founded, leaving out the inspiration is an incomplete article. I had issues with the way the piece was written, not the shop in Kamloops itself. I still wear my Cafe Jersey that was from the very first run of Jerseys they ever printed, both shops are a big part of the bike culture in the west!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 cool store!
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  • + 1
 Finally Some LBS love!!
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