I believe in fate, and destiny, and above all, serendipity, although I suppose they all mean the same thing, which is probably why I believe in all three of them. Anyway, I digress, this post is about serendipity.
Starts with Shane Sutton, he introduced me to a guy called Adam Sherlock, who happened to live just outside Manchester near my sister. So, when I was visiting my sister, I met up with him and we had lunch in Alderley Edge. We got on, we talked about possible future ventures and he said he'd come and visit me in Girona with his business partner, Michelle Gahagan.
Michelle is from Vancouver, and a force of nature, she runs the show – any show she happens to be in. I met her and we got on really well, turned out there wasn't anything that aligned in the stuff we were doing and yet we became friends, and the next time Michelle came to Girona, with another friend, I met up with her.
Michelle's friend is Katherine Evans, and she also runs the show, – any show she wants to run. We met one afternoon on the terrace of the Cafè Royal in Girona, the waiter came and Michelle ordered a coffee, Katherine looked at me, I looked at her, and I ordered a beer, she said, “Fuck yeah, I’ll have a beer too.” Friendship was sealed for life.
Small talk was unnecessary, we went deep in, I learned she owned a hotel in Vancouver and she learnt I used to be a professional cyclist who had a friend who was a professional cyclist who was having his retirement party in Vancouver a couple of months later and that I wished I could justify going. That friend was Ryder Hesjedal.
Katherine and Michelle both said, “Leave it with me, we'll figure it out.”
Within weeks, Michelle and Katherine had organised a full trip for me to visit Vancouver in order to promote CHPT3 (and send Ryder off) with the number one bike shop in Vancouver who happened to already stock CHPT3, the amazing bicicletta.cc. Serendipitously that summer I had met the owner, Graham Fox, for a coffee at the legendary Bar Italia in London's Soho. So we knew each other already and I had admired how he had created perhaps the coolest CHPT3 display I'd ever seen, so it was all fitting perfectly.
I'll try and make a long story a little shorter: I arrived in Vancouver on 8th December 2017, I stayed at Katherine's hotel, the opushotel.com, which sits on Condé Nast's GOLD List and is the only FORBES 4-star boutique hotel in the city. We went out for dinner and patted ourselves on the backs for actually pulling it off.
The next day was Ryder Hesjedal's retirement bash at the Rosewood Hotel, which is managed by the thoroughly brilliant, Philip Meyer. It was an amazing affair involving many of Ryder's old friends from Langford and also a small group of ex-team mates including Christian Vande Velde and Tyler Farrar. I had wanted to give Ryder something, so I brought a framed picture of us racing together from the 2010 Tour de France; it was during my horror Tour where I had two broken ribs and numerous other ailments, but the photo captured me on one of the rare occasions when I was actually able to help Ryder, who eventually finished 4th overall.
A moment both of us remembered vividly yet didn't have the photographic evidence to reminisce about. I knew I'd seen an image somewhere, I couldn't remember where, I figured it was the Tour so it must have been in L'Equipe, so I emailed my contacts at L'Equipe and asked if I had imagined it or not. Within hours they'd found not just one photo, but two, and kindly sent me the original files which I printed and framed.
I wrote on it, “Team mates chasing, David.” I wrote it on the photograph, not the glass, because it would have been rubbed off the glass, and it was only when I was at the framers and had chosen the frame and border etc and was walking out the door that I remembered I should do that. So it was a very impulsive dedication as my car was parked illegally outside on the pavement on the busiest road in Girona, and a bus had already held down the horn because it was a Maserati and they must have hated me… and I was very self-conscious, even though normally it was quite accepted that cars would park there as there was no nearby parking and often pictures are heavy.
I wanted to give a speech before I gave it to him. Speeches had been banned, but I love a speech, so I asked Philip Meyer what to do, and he said, “Don't worry, stay here.” So he went and got the microphone and found a small box and stood upon it and told everybody I had a few words to say. o I did just that, I can't really remember what they were, but they extolled my friendship for Ryder. I forgot my jacket at the Rosewood and walked home in the snow to the Opus, which by that time felt like my home, and I'd been there just a little over 24 hours.
The next day saw me joining Michelle for her company's Christmas lunch at La Pentola restaurant. I didn't have far to go, it was in the Opus Hotel restaurant. I'd never realised Canadians were so much fun; they reminded massively of Scots - very easy to get along with, and slightly mad in a very thought about way. Nothing felt permanent yet everything felt very real – if that makes sense? It did at the time, anyway.
During the afternoon I helped Graham Fox and his business partner and friend, Jon Bula, set up. We had the main man, Pierre Peron, there to help, he being the boss of Castelli in Canada. Pierre was inspiring in his appreciation of what we were doing with CHPT3, and it was clear he really loved it and was doing his best to share his appreciation across Canada. Even now Canada is one of our countries with the most shops.
That evening Katherine and Graham had organised a ticketed cocktail evening in the Opus Bar. The place was rammed by the time I was scheduled to talk about everything we were doing and planning to do, I had brought both the Factor and the Brompton with me to show people what was in the pipeline, as well as all the products we currently had available, we had our custom-made point of sale display there, on which everything was hung.
It was, in essence, and thanks to serendipity, the first time I realised I'd become a travelling salesman. Thank you Michelle and Katherine for making it happen. I never realised ordering a beer on the terrace of Café Royal in the peaceful town of Girona would take me so far. I miss the ship, HMS Opus.