Danie Marais is on a mission to get people on bicycles.
He found his purpose in life about six years ago when a friend bet him that he would complete the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge half an hour quicker than him – should he give it a go.
Not one to pass up a challenge, Marais got hold of a bicycle and began training in earnest. He turned the bet on its head by beating his friend by thirty minutes.
The former tax accountant was hooked and the decision to open Cycle Lab Paarl in September last year was easy.
“I was tired of battling the Receiver. I wanted to do something that I was passionate about.”
Now he keeps busy by managing a successful shop, where he enjoys the hands-on experience.
“It’s definitely hard work.
“We keep our prices competitive and our service top-class, and the effort has really paid off. I can see the business growing steadily, even surpassing my expectations.”
They boast sole distributorship of the Pinarello brand in the area, of which the Dogma is widely touted as one of the most sought-after steeds.
And to give customers the power of choice, Cycle Lab Paarl also stock international brands such as Bianchi, Giant, Merida and Titan.
Marais says that even though they stock mountain and road bikes, the former is by far the ride of choice. “We sell about eight for every road bike.”
To promote road cycling in the area, he organises the Monument Challenge, which has become a well-supported local race.
In fact, it has been so successful that the sponsors have already signed on the dotted line for next year.
“I’m a roadie at heart. The great thing about road racing is that there’s a great deal of strategy involved; it’s not necessarily the strongest rider who wins.”
Not only is he extending his hands-on approach to events, he takes time to advise customers on everything from nutritional products to training. He’s also not afraid to saddle up and ride with them, if need be.
“People tend to think you can just get on a bike and train, but it’s not that simple. Sometimes someone needs to give you a helping hand and constructive feedback.”
Since the shop has opened, Marais has taken on four development riders from the surrounding areas. He sponsors their race entries, outfits and bikes and they are given the opportunity to help out in the shop.
“I don’t care if they win any podiums; it’s just great seeing them enjoy the sport and knowing that they are developing a passion for it.”
It’s not all fun and games though. He insists on seeing their school reports, which determine whether they’re allowed to spend time at the shop.
“Education is important. One day when they’re grown up, they can concentrate on becoming professional cyclists. Right now, school comes first.”
Marais’ insistence on education is followed through in his shop. He runs a workshop with three mechanics, all with qualifications from the South African Bicycle Training Institute.
Bike fitments are done on the Ergofit system.
Cycle Lab Paarl are open from 8.30am to 6pm on weekdays and from 8.30pm to 2pm on Saturdays.
Get in touch by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 021 863 4001.
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