Chris Hickson has kicked the 9-5 into touch and is living the dream.
For Chris has turned a lifelong passion for cycling into a fledgling business after more than 20 years in the cut and thrust of the sales world.
Chris, 46, decided it was “now or never” and launched Bicycle Buddy offering a unique cycling service for riders across South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and North Lincolnshire.
A fully qualified cycle mechanic, Chris offers a mobile “Mr Fix It” service, cycling coaching and, courtesy of a specially fitted out van that can carry eight bikes plus riders, transport to and from cycle trips.
It’s a world away from the Auckley man’s career in sales management, where he has led sales teams and sold brands such as Heineken, Stella Artois and Ken Hom Woks and Cookware, and more recently managed a business venture in Doncaster for coffee giants Costa Coffee.
It’s early days, but the signs are looking good for his new project. Repairs are going well, he has met his monthly target for bike riding trips – and, with biking charity Sustrans, he has been passing on tips to parents at two primary schools in Doncaster – Willow and Bessacarr Primary School. He also has other school dates pencilled in his diary and has linked up with Doncaster Council to give cyclists in the area free cycle maps.
Chris said: “It has been a good response so far in terms of customer base. I have got a good mix with customers wanting anything from a new chain to a full platinum service where we strip the bike down.
“It is good that people are impressed. Everybody that I’ve gone to whether they have spent £25 or £125 they have said they think it is a good thing.”
Chris - a seasoned charity bike rider himself helping to raise £9000 last year for the Costa Foundation to build schools in Africa being just one of his chosen causes - said one of the hardest things when organising a charity bike event is to get people and bikes to the finish line.
Chris also offers his service to people who cycle to work with the advantage that he can fix their bike at their workplace and have them back on the road for the journey home. But it is not only Chris who has been bit by the cycling bug; his wife Victoria and daughter Harriet have done a few coast to coast bike rides.
Harriet, 15, who attends Hayfield School, did her first coast to coast aged 12.
If you are itching to get on the saddle and get the knees working, Doncaster is an ideal place according to Chris.
“Doncaster has a lot of potential to be a good cycling town because it’s flat and because the council have got the associations with Sustrans, there’s support for cyclists in Doncaster.
“Doncaster isn’t a big town but there there are more people in DMBC than in Oxford and Cambridge, and they are known as cycle towns.”
But Chris has some advice before you get pedalling: “If you are getting your bike out of the shed, have your bike checked and make sure it is safe to ride, that it is of the right size and it has been maintained and serviced, that’s important.”
To find out more about Bicycle Buddy visit www.bicyclebuddy.co.uk.