Hello George. How are you today?
I am excellent, thank you! Just back from some racing in Wales over the weekend.
Tell us a little bit about Wellingborough Cycles.
The shop started as a Cycle Life franchise just over 10 years ago. Then five years ago we moved to a much larger shop in a niche retail court just on the outskirts of Wellingborough town centre. We’re now a standalone business and have grown tremendously in the last few years.
We have a large spectrum of customers – from those looking for entry-level road and mountain bikes to high-end custom builds including brands such as Bianchi, Cannondale and Scott – and we try to cater for as many of them as possible.
We try to stock brands that we truly believe in, we’re genuinely passionate about cycling and we won’t sell something if we don’t believe in its ability to fulfil what the customer wants. It is this level of service that we pride ourselves on and what managed to get us into the BikeBiz top 20 IBDs in 2016.
Your shop rides are incredibly popular. What kinds of ages and abilities do they attract?
The shop rides are probably one of our greatest success stories. They started with some like-minded guys meeting outside the shop on a Saturday morning and going for a spin. We now get at least 70 riders going out every single Saturday, come rain or shine. We have seven groups doing everything from a small 10 to 15-mile route to racers riding at 23-24mph and publish the routes on a Wednesday afternoon on our Facebook page so that apprehensive cyclists can download the route to their Garmin and now worry if they drop out of the group.
One local hero joined the shop ride four or five years ago and has inspired every single one of us. When he started riding with us he weighed 32 stone but now he weighs just 12 stone – yes, really! This has taken so much hard work and we’re proud just to be a small part of the journey. We love seeing the smiles (and gurns!) on the guys’ faces when they get back each Saturday and they benefit from having 70 other like-minded people to speak to and bounce ideas around with.
You also have a race team. How are they getting on?
Our race team started last year so is still a fairly new thing to the shop. In 2016 we finished 31st in the National Club Rankings and third in the Central Region Club Rankings. It was a big first year for us and a real baptism of fire!
We had seven riders last year – all at least category two riders – and by the end of the year we had one elite rider and four first category riders. This year we have dropped to six riders but the guys are competing at the same level and exceeding expectations.
So far the guys have competed at the highest level possible with multiple appearances in National A races with full-time cyclists. Just this last week Jordan Peacock, one of our first category riders, competed and finished 29th in the National Circuit Race Championships in Sheffield.
What do you think has contributed to the increased popularity of cycling?
London 2012 was huge for the industry. It made people realise that they too can become part of one of the country’s most successful sports simply by getting out and getting involved.
It’s often said that cycling is the new golf and we agree. People who would once have shared nine or 18 holes will now dress in tight clothing and head out to a café somewhere, sharing stories of work, family and new bike-related purchases along the way.
Many thanks to George Fox for taking the time to answer our questions. For more information on Wellingborough Cycles, visit them online at www.wellingboroughcycles.co.uk, at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.