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My Improbable Journey To Bike Shop Life

  • Posted on
  • By Nadia Petrasiunas
  • Posted in Shop News
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My Improbable Journey To Bike Shop Life

Meet our new assistant manager!

A heavier white woman rides away from the camera on a front cargo box tricycle.

If you told me a little more than a decade ago that I would become the assistant manager of a local bicycle shop, I would have laughed, rolled my eyes and said “Yeah, right.”

Why? Because at sixteen years old, I still didn’t know how to ride a bike. Sure, I’d tried. My dad had given six, seven, and eight year old me lots of encouragement and tips for how to ride without my training wheels, but I never got the hang of it and quickly gave up. It wasn’t until high school that somehow my friends compelled me to let them teach me and I wobbled down my residential street absolutely mortified — but I finally got the hang of it.

Once I’d learned to ride my bike (a “vintage” mountain bike from the ‘90s), I tried to ride to my Starbucks shifts that began before the buses started running. I would inevitably arrive home in tears, either frustrated at my inability to handle the steep hills on the TVP or from the threats I received from drivers when I tried to “share the road”. Riding a bike to get around didn’t seem possible for me at that time, either. 

Maybe you could credit my rediscovery of the bicycle to my first child, who fell in love with a beautiful wooden bakfiets she saw at the store where I now spend my days. It was due to her curiosity that our family eventually chose an e-trike to get around with our kids. Our trike arrived around the same time as the pandemic’s first wave, and that year created more opportunities for us to ride together than we’d ever imagined. Our trike was the safest way to get outside and get exercise with the girls during this difficult time, and the electric assist meant we could go farther, and do more on a bike every day. Between riding to parks all over the city, and seeing the incredulous faces of curbside grocery store staff in awe of how much food fit in the box of my bike, we certainly made the most out of it. It was part of my parenting journey that will always be with me.

A front view of the front box cargo trike full to the brim with groceries.

Now here I am with over 6000 kilometres logged on our family’s e-bikes—yes, 'bikes'. We bought a second e-cargo bike, come in and ask me about it! Bikes have created memories for our family, and personal accomplishments that I’d never thought I would achieve, such as a day trip to Port Stanley, and an overnight trip to my dad’s small town. My journey with bicycles went from awkward and uninformed, to comfortable but afraid, to bold and confident in only a few years of my life.

It took a little coaching and community to help me along that journey, and that’s why I wanted to start helping others make cycling a part of your everyday life, too. When you see me in the store, or on the TVP, I’ll be there to tell you that you don’t need to think of yourself as a “cyclist” to ride a bike to get around. I’ll be the one telling you that taking your bike to the grocery store actually makes you feel better. I’ll tell you that making a day trip to the beach doesn’t have to be something you do more than once to be proud of yourself. And I’ll tell you that you can always have dreams about doing more things on two wheels. I want you to enjoy cycling as much as I do, in whatever way is best for you. I promise to make London Bicycle Cafe a welcoming place where everyone can find support, wherever you are on your cycling journey.

As for me, I’m dreaming of my next bike adventures: maybe building my own touring bike, or dropping the kids off at their grandparents’ and taking the train to Montreal for a few days with nothing but a small bag and a folding bike. I think Einstein might have got it right when he said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” My bike journey is only just beginning.

Nadia

Nadia rides a Tern GSD: the storm box is on the long tail back of the bike and her child is partially obscured behind her sitting in it.

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