OWNER, FORKS BICYCLE SHOP
CYCLIST, ONE-MAN SHOP, SHOP RAT
A fork in his life, the forks on a bike, the Forks of the Credit… the owner of the Forks Bicycle Shop believes in connections, like the ones he tries to forge between cyclists and his beautiful new home of Erin. That’s why Brian Travis will buy you a coffee down the street if you’re a cyclist, spot you a free tube at businesses all over, and personally ride a popular trail every few days not just for fun, but to check it out for safety and riding conditions. Brian doesn’t want people to come up here just for our winding roads and spectacular scenery, but for the warm, thoughtful Headwaters hospitality that makes it all that more enjoyable.
I’m calling you on your day off… sorry!
Don’t worry. I’m a one man shop, we don’t really get days off.
You mentioned the season’s just starting (spring) and already busy. How?
Canada is unique from a bicycle perspective: while we enjoy four seasons in cycling, and the enthusiast or true cyclist rides all year round indoors or outdoors… for the majority of Canadians, it’s very Pavlovian: when the warm weather hits, you usually see this weird tidal wave of service and repairs for the next two months.
And people being people, they wait until the last minute to get their bike fixed.
Oh yeah, I mean crikey, I’ve been in the bike industry since I was 14, and I always giggle watching bike shop owners tirelessly try and fail at encouraging customers to get repairs done early.
Cyclists don’t like me because I run on their bike lanes.
Yep, I get that conversation up here. It’s a very small community, and being the bike guy, I get a lot of feedback about the behaviour of cyclists. (laughs) The local people are great, they come in on Saturday mornings with a complete look of trust that I will handle the behaviour of all the cyclists.
So your shop is in the middle of Erin — is it Erin or EE-rin?
Its EE-rin, but if you’re a transplant like myself you’re not allowed to call it that (laughs).
Well I definitely won’t then. You say “dreams do come true” on your website. Is the shop your dream?
My father brought us up to Collingwood in ’88. I was 10. My dad bought me a mountain bike, and said go have fun, don’t be in the house, and three hours later I came back muddy with a big smile on my face and a broken bicycle. And my dad said, well, you’d better learn how to fix that… and the rest is history. I was the kid in the bike shops, the 12-year-old annoying everyone about how to fix things. A shop rat. So as a 30-year-old, being able to own your own bicycle shop and serve the community has been a dream come true.
Do people come up just for the trails?
The escarpment is really the draw. We have a very healthy amount of visitors on the weekend, and they can ride up to the top of the escarpment where we are, visit Erin, go to Holtom’s Bakery, then go home and that’s a nice 100km ride, which for most club riders is ideal.
So we support the community and other small businesses that need support as well. We do a “Tube it Forward” program, which is a free tube and pump at certain businesses within the area as a thank you. If you’re riding and get a flat, you’re up the creek without a paddle and this’ll help. And two doors down is the bakery, which is the beehive of the village. I told them, if cyclists show up, I’ll pay for their coffees. That’s gone over really well.
What about the people that just want to take a nice leisurely ride?
The next piece in the cycling puzzle is the Elora Cataract trail, one of those classic railways that was dug up and put down, a hard-packed limestone surface, perfect for hiking and horseback riding, cycling and dogwalking. The one we have here in Erin is almost 50 km long, and it’s a very popular trail system for the recreational community. It’s within the village so you can access it from multiple locations, and it’s a safe, flat trail system.
So we cater to the Elora Cataract trail: family bicycles, kids’ bikes. We do a popular junior trade-in program where you can buy a bicycle, grow up and come back and trade it in. We cater to the local community, if they didn’t support us we wouldn’t survive.
You’re from Collingwood, so living in the country’s natural to you. Do you own a house up here?
My wife Heather and I adopted the roles of Tom Hanks and Shelley Long (from the film “Money Pit”) and bought ourselves one of the original 1890 homes in the village, which we are lovingly trying to restore back to its glory. My house is two minutes away from the business. Being able to ride to work is luxurious.
Is there a spot you like to stop your bike at and say, “Wow, I’m glad I moved here”?
About 20 minutes, 7km on the Elora Cataract trail here, you’ll end up in the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. It’s a hidden gem, it’s got a massive gorge that the river’s carved-in, and the view is spectacular. That’s one spot I would say makes me feel lucky to be here.
Even the name of the shop: there was a fork in my life where I was deciding, do I continue what I’m doing or open a bicycle shop… the Forks of the Credit… it all makes sense.