The longest day

Up with the sun, 80 miler, drinks, tapas, sun down. Perfect!



Metamorphosis – a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism…

Okay, so it’s a slightly over dramatic turn of phrase but to be honest it’s probably the most apt way to describe the way this year’s shaping up.

Way back when, in what feels like a different lifetime now, work life was of a distinctly more sales/marketing/management ilk, but when we sold the business I fell into something completely different. Kitchen installation was only ever meant to be a stop gap until I worked out what I really wanted to do, and a mere 10 years later (!) I’ve finally got my act together and made the break. Those 10 years proved a great experience but I was always 50/50 on the work, some parts I loved, some I hated, the only thing keeping me at it so long was working with my best mate. Work was merely a distraction as we spent most of our time planning the next big cycling/climbing/travelling/etc. adventure. While nothing changed on this front the work itself had certainly become less enjoyable due to a number of factors I won’t bore you all with. So as I hinted at before a change was coming.

They say timing is everything and for once I seem to have lucked out on this front. Over the years I’ve accrued experience in a fairly diverse range of job roles and skills, all of which on paper bare very little relevance to one another unless you can stumble across that job in a million to which it can be applied. Somehow that’s exactly what happened. A chance encounter, a casual chat, a perfect storm brewing and hey presto I’m the new (excuse this as I don’t really like throwing job titles around) Production Manager for Earlyrider Bikes!

For anyone not familiar Earlyrider manufacture some very classy little balance and pedal bikes for kids. Although it’s only ‘bikes for kids’ I hear you say, the branding, image, and ethos of the company is absolutely bang on and right up my street. I am absolutely smitten already. And somehow I’m getting the opportunity to get involved in just about everything I love; Bike mechanics, sales, marketing, photography (check out the image above I helped shoot for the next brochure), travel etc, etc. To top it off I even get to go to Eurobike and the NEC Cycleshow which for me is a kid in a sweetshop experience. A further indication as to what a radical change it’s been as to my feelings on the whole love/hate work ethic is that I’m currently on holiday and for the first time in years enjoying thinking about and staying in touch with work while away!

I am sorry that this post just reeks of gloating, and to be honest I’ve got very little defence on that. I promise to reign it in after this. All I can say is that after 10 years of being fairly career disenchanted (read suicidal at points) I am now deliriously happy. Sure, it’s not always going to be all roses and the honeymoon period will become jaded at some point, but when you rock up to work and the first thing you see are bikes then you can be pretty sure a bad day here is still a good one in my book.



Bikes, Baja California & Beers – The Story of O’Neal

Jim O'Neal - Now & Then

Jim O’Neal – Now & Then (photo from O’Neal Europe)

Jim O’Neal is a man I would love to sit and have a beer and a chat with, after a day riding motorbikes of course!

Jim is the man behind the O’Neal brand and Ae7 has been selling his helmets, body armour & clothing for a number of years now. Initially I knew nothing about the man behind the business however as the years have went past I’ve noticed his name appearing in different places and read quite a few articles about him. He is an interesting character with a real passion for his sport. The fact he turned his passion into a successful business puts him up there with a group of entrepreneurs whom I admire.

Jim O’Neal is now in his late 60’s and he still rides motorbikes every week, nowadays with his sons & grandsons. He takes part in the Baja 500 off road race in Mexico every year. I was working a few years back with another great guy, the travel show host, writer and tv star Anthony Bourdain. The show No Reservations was being filmed in the Baja California area of Mexico. Whilst in the town of Ensenada (where the Baja races start & finish) we were lucky enough to hang out with a group of locals who were big into off road motorcycling and I spent a good part of the day riding motorbikes along the beaches and sand dunes nearby (working of course!). I later read that Jim O’Neal races here every year and he holds the record for the most stage wins, 14 to date according to score international.

So what’s his story? Well basically Jim grew up in California, in the San Fernando Valley. He got into motorbikes as a teenager and began racing in the 60’s just as motocross began to boom in the United States. In 1970 he began to sell tyres and parts at the races and he launched his first product which was a front fender known as the “Preston Petty Fender”. This was the beginning of the O’Neal business that 45 years later is an international company with interests in MX and Mountain Biking. Jim’s sons helped to push the cycling side of the business in the 1980’s and these days O’Neal has a massive range of products and a growing number of brands that include O’Neal, Azonic, Blur Optics, Four & Rockhard Helmets. Nowadays O’Neal has a 67,000 square foot facility in the US and sales distributors around the world. In 1970 Jim had his van!

Jim still uses Baja and local races to test out new gear. A lot of the products that O’Neal sell have been getting thrashed on the race circuit for a couple of years before they make it into production for selling to the public.

On the business side of O’Neal, Jim was clever enough to take on partners at key times to help develop the growth of products & sales and he’s seen exceptional growth over the last 10 – 15 years around the world.

There are a lot of strong brands out there but sometimes the stories behind these don’t always get told. Jim O’Neal’s passion for quality and his principle to “create the best possible products for riding and racing in the dirt” has stood his company well.

Here at Ae7 we share his passion and love the products O’Neal continue to create. 2014 is going to be an interesting year for O’Neal. New technologies & designs have made the latest range of O’Neal goods stand out and we’re very excited about showing you all the latest gear! Watch this space.

Jim, a beer awaits when you have time for a chat (and a blast on the motorbikes of course!).


Job Opportunity – E Commerce Sales & Marketing Manager

Ae7 are looking for someone to join the team to help build our multi channel e commerce business.

We sell Cycling protection equipment; helmets, clothing, body armour and footwear and have plans to grow into other action adventure sports over the next 12 months. We need someone with experience, passion and a love of sales & marketing to help drive the business forward.

If you have a good knowledge of running websites, Amazon, Ebay & other channels as well as other skills such as SEO, photoshop etc then we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us about yourself and your experience.

Although the business is established, we have changed a lot of the back end systems recently to allow growth and we are looking to really push everything forward over the next 12 months. You would need to enjoy the challenge of growing a business and taking things to the next level. This will be a challenging and fun role for the right person.

Qualifications are not necessary but experience and a real positive can do attitude is.

The company likes to do things differently so if you have a bit of flair to match experience and a real want to achieve results then you could be the ideal person.

The job will be Glasgow based so you would need to live in or near to Glasgow.

Pay is negotiable and will include a bonus system which will be results based.

Sound interesting? Get in touch via e mail initially with Rob at Ae7:

Driver Kills Cyclist then Sues Dead Bikers Family for Anxiety

Bike Memorial

Bike Memorial

The news of a lawsuit against the family of boy killed by a vehicle is just unbelievable. Now I’m not taking away the fact that the driver would undoubtedly be distraught at being involved in an accident in which a young cyclist was killed. Behind the wheel of the SUV that hit three teenage cyclists was a women by the name of Sharlene Simon. The tragic circumstances took place in Innifil, Ontario in Canada in October 2012. Teenager Brandon Majewski was riding his bike along with two friends when the car driven by Simon hit all three of them from behind resulting in the death of Majewski.

Local press reports state that investigators blamed a lack of visibility, saying that Simon had no time to take evasive action. Tragic indeed and devastating for all involved.

What has happened since is the part that defies belief. Sharlene Simon has taken it upon herself to sue the family of the dead boy as well as the two survivors for $1.35 million for “great pain and suffering.” According to the Huffinton Post report Simon claims she has suffered from depression, anxiety, irritability and post-traumatic stress, and that the “enjoyment of life has been irretrievably lessened” since the accident.

I’ve no doubt she is suffering but as a human being what the hell is she thinking?

According to USA Today the lawsuit against them states that “They did not apply their brakes properly,” and “They were incompetent bicyclists”.

There are stories that we read everyday that just defy logic and common sense and I genuinely hope that the courts in Canada can see sense and tell her where to take her lawsuit. It’s a sad, sad day when someone makes a decision to put a grieving family through a situation like this.

Shame on you Sharlene Simon, your life has surely been dealt a blow but seriously, you still have your life. Clearly though you have no heart and you really don’t know what suffering is all about.


Times are a changing…

Uber workshop

So it’s been a while since my last post, life seems to have been flying by at warp speed with seemingly not enough hours in the day, my concentration pulled in so many directions sometimes it feels my head may implode. Even time on the bike has taken a bit of a knock, but only being relegated as paving the way for a better future has taken priority. So hopefully all for the greater good.

So what’s been happening? Well for a start the ‘Uber Workshop” end of Project Club House is finally taking shape. This has been a very satisfying little side project, which does also hint at the flavour of the other changes that are afoot. Towards the end of last year and beginning of this it had become clear that some big changes needed to be made career wise if I wanted to hold onto any shred of sanity and happiness. Work takes up such a large percentage of our time on this planet that I believe you should be happy in what you do and quite frankly that has not been the case. Change was overdue. So the wheels are in motion, and hopefully rolling towards a future and lifestyle more aligned with a happy heart. Somewhere back in the mists of time I forgot what was important: Have passion and happiness in your work, the money will (hopefully) take care of itself.

Only time will tell how this will play out, so whether I end up in a happier situation or find myself staring into the bottom of a can of Special Brew outside the job centre at least I will know I got off my arse and tried to make life a little less ordinary. I’ll keep you posted.

To infinity and beyond…



Let the Mountain Bike World Cup Begin

The 2014 UCI MTB World Cup Season launches next month, with South Africa hosting the first round. The best downhill & cross country riders in the world will commence the battle to win mountain bikings biggest competition in Pietermaritzburg. The World Cup is a well travelled circuit and this year the rounds will be held as far apart as South Africa, Australia, Canada and the USA as well as France, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and the UK.

Fort William in Scotland will host the 3rd round on the weekend of 7th & 8th June and it’s sure to be another noisy and crowded affair in the highlands!

The World Championships will be held in Hafjell in Noway in September.