Business is rolling in for bike boffin Bishop
A year on from putting the wheels in motion to start his own business, customers keep rolling in for bike boffin Andy Bishop.
The 37-year-old still rides competitively on the regional circuit, but the past year has also seen him help over 300 cyclists in their bids to be better riders.
Bishop, who battled back from spinal surgery to represent GB in triathlon, has spent the last 52 weeks trying his hand as a business owner.
He and wife Claire, who works part-time in a school, spotted an opportunity at a prime piece of Worksop town centre property, and grabbed it with both hands.
“The building was the old St John’s Ambulance Centre,” he said.
“But it was in a bit of a state.”
“It took a lot of vision when you first walked in,” added Claire, who firmly believed that if her husband was to leave his job as a fitness instructor and go it alone, it would need to be a family enterprise.
Worksop Cricket Club, the owners of the building on Central Avenue, had a number of interested businesses.
But Bishop’s presentation must have impressed, because he’s now celebrating one full year of operation as the Andy Bishop Cycling Performance Centre.
A compensation award after being knocked off his bike in a collision with a car helped with the initial set up cost, but refurbishing the building had to be done on a shoestring, dollops of elbow grease and not wads of cash making the dream become a reality.
Not that you’d know it.
The cycling centre has a professional look to it, with rows of spinning bikes neatly lined up against the back wall, kettlebells, weights, balance balls, a rowing machine and a stationary bike.
Bishop has also landed the stationary bike’s fancy, modern cousin – the Watt bike, used by professionals to develop cycling technique and gather performance data.
Having a keen eye for a bargain helped him to assemble an impressive array of equipment.
All he needed was to attract some customers.
“At first my spinning classes had just one or two, it was pretty quiet,” he said.
“But then it grew bigger and bigger and the class was full, I had to get more spinning bikes.
“And now the class is full again.
“Those first couple reminding me that they were here at the start and it was just them.”
Full spinning classes and circuit training sessions are all well and good, but there’s one service offered at the performance centre that Bishop couldn’t making a living without – bike fits.
The art of setting up a bike to its owner’s specific body mechanics has become a lucrative market.
The number of cyclists who have brought their shiny new machines to Central Avenue to have saddle adjustments and stem length altered is nearing 300.
“That’s the biggest part of it,” said Bishop.
“Some days I’m down here first thing in the morning for spinning classes, and then I’m still here nearing 11 o’clock at night because I’ve been doing bike fits.
“Once I’d done a lot of the bike fits for riders in the local area I thought that was it, but I’ve had people coming from all over the place, from Harrogate, Leeds, Stoke – one guy wants to come up from Surrey.”
There are, of course, other places to go and have your bike fitted, but you might end up paying four times the amount charged by Bishop.
“People go out and spend a couple of hundred quid on their first bike, they can’t then go and spend another £200 on having a bike fit done,” he said.
“Some say I’m charging less so it must be an inferior service, but I’ve done bike fits for some top, top riders, people much quicker than me.”
It helps, from a business point of view, that Bishop is well known in the area’s cycling scene.
He rides for the Andy Moore Autocentres Racing Team, based at Staveley, and has picked up impressive results across the region over the past two years.
This year he’s closing in on his ‘Category 1’ status that would allow him to race in some of the most prestigious events, and still sees himself as a cyclist, not just a coach.
“I want to race for as long as I can,” he said.
“I’m 37 now but I’m still getting top 10s, and I want to race at that level in big races, with sponsors, until they tell me I’m not getting the results anymore.”
The future might not hold breakneck cornering into home straights for too much longer, but Bishop’s passion for cycling is showing no signs of coming to a halt.
“I might have to do long hours but you can’t call it hard work when it’s your passion, it’s what I love doing,” he said.
“It’s a family thing, the kids come down and use the waiting room to do their homework and play computer games.
“Claire is down helping, answering the phone, taking over the books because I was getting swamped.
“The business is going really well but I still think it’s got a lot of potential.”