In the heat of the first full day of summer, a perfect day for bicycle banter, Mr. Rickard digresses devotedly about his life on two wheels, starting at the ripe old age of one. Bundled in a canvas backpack, he slept soundly on his father’s back as they cycled all over town any and all hours of the day or night. Perhaps it was here in the dreams built from the unique sounds of a bicycle on the move, the gears shifting and the soft clicking, that the obsession began.
There’s a definite sparkle in those impossibly clear blue-green eyes when Marc Rickard recounts where it all began. The owner of The Bike Pedaler spins a tale of his eight-year-old self completely dismantling his bicycle. Unable to put it back together, his father unloaded Marc and the disassembled heap to the Nauss Bicycle Shop in Halifax, owned at that time by Jack Nauss, who taught the boy how to put it back together himself – as punishment. Young Marc soon found he had a natural dexterity for bike maintenance and continued his informal training for years to come, sparking a life long passion for bikes and the whole culture that surrounds them.
When the engine finally blew up in his most recent vehicle, he was ready to make a full time commitment to cycling, “I thought, you know what? Ninety-nine percent of what I do is local and if it’s not, I can car share, I can borrow one from my parents or my partner’s parents – whomever. It just made it so much easier there and the difference in my pocketbook is huge!”
As for the ongoing public debate regarding the registration of bikes as a Government Safety initiative, Marc states emphatically that he’d be all for it, if it meant uninterrupted bicycle lanes, separate bicycle routes or perhaps even designating some HRM streets as bicycle only thoroughfare. Also, he mentions with slightly defiant undertones, perhaps the police could take him seriously when he calls to say his bike was stolen.
On thoughts of opening more shops he had this to say, “What I’d like to do is find somewhere larger first, to expand into. After 8 months we were at capacity. At the year mark we were over capacity and still are. I’m up to 5 employees, which is amazing and I’m looking to get 2 more in,” He states, “What I want to do, actually, is sponsor a local rider to come in and work a few hours, and then be free to do their training for the rest of the day. And that way I can cut them fantastic deals on service, on parts, that kind of thing. So if they are, you know, a mountain biker and they’re breaking their bike all the time, well, it’s not costing them an absolute fortune to stay competitive.” He expresses how exciting it would be for him to be able to support a young, competitive athlete and have an opportunity to train them in his shop at the same time.
When asked about his thoughts on living and working in Dartmouth, his response was simple, and said with feeling, “My personal feelings now that I’ve lived elsewhere in Canada, is that Dartmouth is a village, and it needs to be accepted as a village. And once people start to embrace that, we’re going to see it really flourish. I think we’re seeing the change right now.”
Currently one dream that he continues to hold on to is to be able to ride, on a multi use path, all the way around the basin. Uninterrupted. Nicely tying all the communities in HRM together.
“People need to stop seeing bicycles as being for the elite and for kids. It’s really for everyone.” To shed the existing stereotypes, raise awareness, and create an inclusive, local cycling culture – Marc Rickard is a force to be reckoned with, for sure.