Every year I meet new people as they come by the shop for a repair, a purchase, some advice etc. It amazes me the number of people who visit from great distances, but the stories are certainly not boring.
I've served the needs of people from a variety of countries including Canada of course, America, Germany, Switzerland. I even met a man who lived in the same (now nonexistent) town where I was born. Fort Churchill, Manitoba. It turns out that Bob McColm and I went to the same schools (at different times) and were able to share similar stories of growing up in that northern clime, the Polar Bear Capital of the world. You just can't understand how rare that really is, coming from a bustling city such as Peterborough.
Many of the people I serve are students, or parents of students attending Fleming College or Trent University here in town. They stop in, being Peterborough virgins, unfamiliar with the local cycling community and where to seek out a good mechanic. I love these folks. I value these customers. For the next few years I am there local cycling resource and I don't squander that responsibility. They trust me to keep their transportation in top condition so they can commute to work and school. I remember those days well, as I was a student at Sheridan College in Oakville. For 2 years I pedalled to school with my backpack converted to carry my 4x5 View camera. That is until I slipped on the thin ice when walking one morning and snapped my ankle badly. From that moment I was blessed/cursed with a bulky (yet light) purple cast for 6 weeks of awkward wobbling through the halls of higher learning.
It's been 5 years since I put out my shingle and started promoting my services. I'm at the point where I'm seriously considering putting the shingle back in the drawer as I take a poignant look at my future goals. I look at it this way, I have spent a lot of years fumbling along as I try to make a life as a photographer and have yet to find any real success. I know that I have the skills to make a go of it. The question is, how serious do I want to be a bike mechanic and for how much longer can I pursue this sort of seasonal work instead of going all-in with photography? It's a tough pill to swallow. Giving up one skill set for another. I mean, I really enjoy making all these people happy by fixing their rides. And it does pay me fairly well. This is a question I've been asking myself for a few months and I've yet to come up with a satisfactory answer.
In the meantime, I will continue to fix bikes. Help clients. Offer advice based on fact, not sales potential. All the while, as a photographer, I will exercise my right to produce a variety of cool images that serve the needs of an entirely different client base. I remain your humble servant to your bicycle and photography needs.