#mechanicmonday honors Alastair Glover
Welcome back to Mechanic Monday! We took a two-week break at the beginning of August, but we are thrilled to share a brand new feature with you today. This week’s honoree is Alastair Glover of Isle of Lewis, Scotland!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with PBMA’s Mechanic Monday series, this is where we feature one mechanic each week who is chosen randomly from the pool of nominations that we receive. Mechanic Monday is all about mechanics supporting fellow mechanics, and we are proud to partner with Abbey Bike Tools, Cycling Industry News, and People for Bikes to share these great features with you.
Alastair Glover is a lifelong cyclist and mechanic. He spent the early part of his career working and cycling his way through the hills of Scotland, before returning home to the Isle of Lewis to start his own business, BeSpoke Bicycles, in 2013. BeSpoke Bicycles is truly a community bicycle shop. It began as a mobile enterprise, but as the business grew, it was in desperate need of a physical home. But Alastair wouldn’t settle for just any location; he wanted something that would give back to and inspire his community. And so the restoration of Storonway’s historic 19th-Century “Glen House” began. Nearly three years later, Alastair has given the property a new life and BeSpoke Bicycles is thriving. A herculean undertaking like that doesn’t come without stories – and we are pleased to share some of Alastair’s with you in his own words!
PBMA: How did you get involved in cycling and/or cycling mechanics?
AG: Hailing from the Outer Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland, my first real introduction was when I worked as an outdoor activities instructor on the island of North Uist. It was also here that I experienced my first big crash from a bike – and although it hurt, it didn’t put me off!
A move to Glasgow saw me out and about mountain biking more and more in the Scottish hills, and I became further involved in the industry working on the sales floor of Alpine Bikes. Following this I was offered a position as floor manager at Dales Cycles in Glasgow and this was really where I gained a huge amount of experience on how a successful bike shop is managed, as well as learning about the mechanics of a bicycle, maintenance and repair.
PBMA: Can you tell us the story of your current shop, Bespoke Bicycles, and its home?
AG: I moved back home to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and had a hiatus for a few years as family life took over, although I still enjoyed taking to my bike, both on-road and off, to get away from it all and burn off some energy.
But I discovered that the pull of the cycle world was too strong – and so in August 2013, I began my own cycle repair company BeSpoke Bicycles, starting part-time offering a mobile repair service in the evenings and weekends, attending call outs in the family car.
Things snowballed rapidly and six months later BeSpoke became a full-time operation; the business expanded into selling new bikes and accessories. I also secured a number of high quality brands to al bespoke bike orders specific to the needs of an island cyclist.
Work on The Hub first began in January 2016. BeSpoke was bigger than ever but homeless and in desperate need of a new base. I had a dream about an old ruined house in Stornoway – Glen House. It only took two and a half years of literally rebuilding Glen House to see my dream become reality!
One of the oldest buildings in Stornoway (the main town of Lewis), Glen House was originally build around 1844. Over its lifetime it has been used as a school, an Admiralty house, a lodge, and private residence. Before BeSpoke came along however it had lain empty for a number of years, left to the ravages of the Hebridean weather.
The roof was letting in water; the window frames had rotted; the stairs inside had dropped because the ground floor joists were decimated by wood worm, and the ground floorboards rotted with a small river running underneath! There were mould cultures on the walls that a scientist would be proud of; the electrics were shot, the mains plumbing leaked; the drains were blocked, and the chimneys had tress growing out of them.
It took two and a half years of hard work, but we repaired the roof, fitted new windows and doors, laid a new floor downstairs, replaced the electrics, plumbing, and drainage systems, and added new insulation and plasterboard – transforming Glen House into The Hub.
The Hub brings together all elements of cycling in the Outer Hebrides – from road cycling to mountain biking, BMX to Trials, kids to adults, visiting tourists to the local pedaler – housing an up-to-date retail outlet; bike-wash station and comfy waiting room; a fully equipped workshop, as well as the Nice‘n’Chilled café upstairs offering a refuel for cyclists and the general public.
The Hub has also been adopted as HQ for the Hebridean Cycle Club.
And, always a company to assist and benefit the local community, BeSpoke is registered with various operators and employers as part of the UK government’s Cycle-to-Work scheme; assists with the island council’s Outdoor Education Department to deliver Introductory Mountain Bike sessions on community bike trails; develops and delivers Cycle Skills courses to local school pupils and offers work in partnership with the island health board helping with Cardiac and Sports Rehab.
PBMA: Do you have a favourite moment or story from your time in the cycling industry?
AG: Although it might sound very cheesy, my favourite moment in time has to be the completion of the renovation work of Glen House and being able to open the doors to my own business in a premise that I literally rebuilt to welcome my first customers in.
PBMA: What motivation or advice would you give to aspiring professional bicycle mechanics?
AG: Learn. Learn. Learn. Constantly learn! The day that you think you know everything is the day that you should retire.
PBMA: What is your favourite tool?
AG: My least favourite tool is the internal routing kit! Although not my most favourite, a tool which does produce the most satisfying results is what I call my “gentle persuader” – a hammer! My favourite tool, however, would have to be my Park wheel-tuning stand because I can achieve amazing results with it, and I do love everything to be perfect!
That’s all for this week! Thank you for following along with our series and sharing our support for our fellow mechanics. We’ll be back next week with a new feature. In the meantime, we are still in need of nominations!! You don’t need to be a PBMA Member to nominate or be featured! (All that we ask is for no self-nominations, please.) Click here to learn more about our 2018 Mechanic Monday series, and here to learn more about how to nominate your favorite mechanic!
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