Hey, folks! Another new face has crossed the threshold of the Dirt Rag house. I feel lucky to be here and I am excited to share my enthusiasm and experiences in cycling with yinz (spoken in a true â€“Pittsburghese-British accent). Wow, all of the years I spent tinkering with bikes and reading Dirt Rag have resulted in the realization of my dream job. I suppose youâ€™re curious about my life with bikes and how this cycling-crazed British yinzer came to be. Hereâ€™s the storyâ€¦
Growing up in the small village of West Haddon in Northamptonshire, England, I had no idea that nearly 20 years later I would be obsessed with bikes (vintage VW restoration), married to a girl I call â€œMargie,â€ living in Western Pennsylvania, and working for Dirt Rag. Who knew those formative years I spent cruising my Raleigh Burner BMX around the sleepy English countryside would be the beginning of many experiences on the trail. After my family and I moved to the United States, I turned sixteen and left my bikes in the garage to collect dust and rust. Finally, when the novelty of driving wore off, I began to crave the excitement of my former mode of transportation, a bicycle. Soon after I learned of a great job, a bicycle messenger.
When I learned about this job, I said to myself, â€œYou get paid to be outside and ride your bike all day. Where do I sign up?â€ I loved working as a messenger because I met some of the coolest people, including some of my best friends that I still have today. I also learned the glory of clipless pedals, essential bicycle mechanic skills, and became an avid rider. Ultimately, a group of messenger friends took me to my first outing on the trails of Western Pennsylvania. At that moment, I switched my tires from slick to knobby and never looked back.
I worked as a messenger for over three years and after having cars bounce me around the city like a pinball, I realized it was time to take a break from the messenger scene. This proved to be an ideal time to experience life again in England. It was great to be home again. I soon found a job as bricklayer and spent my free time riding my cross bike from village to village. After about six months, I began to miss my future wife, Maggie, so I returned to the States. Before leaving England, I learned of an upcoming cyclocross race and experienced my first taste of bicycle racing. At dusk, in the stadium-lit field in the town of Rugby, I raced around the cyclocross course hurdling barriers and hoping to finish the race in time to catch the last train home. I loved the excitement of racing and discovered my competitive streak. Upon returning to Pittsburgh, I still wanted to work with bikes everyday, so the next logical step in my mind was a position in a bike shop. The rest is history. I spent the next decade working at bike shops, mostly as a store manager and a mechanic, while racing just about every genre of off-road cycling available.
So here I am now, loving my new position as Fulfillment Guy. It gives me a chance to do what I love, working with bikes and great people who share the same passion for bicycles as I do. Look out for me, your British Yinzer friend in the upcoming issues, or on the trails !