Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - August 2, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba winnipegfreepress. com THIS CITY . OUR WEEKLY LOOK AT THE PULSE OF THE CITY . A8 SUNDAY, AUGUST 2, 2015 I T wasn’t exactly headline news when Tim Woodcock announced he was an advocate of Winnipeg’s active- transportation strategy, which was passed by city council in July. After all, Woodcock is the owner of Woodcock Cycle Works — a bicycling retailer that stands to gain financially from people parking their vehicles and taking advantage of a plan that calls for the city to spend $ 334 million on a concentration of pedestrian and cycling lanes over the next 20 years. But Woodcock said his reasons for backing the initiative aren’t self- serving. “ A lot of people get vocal with me over this because they know I’m a cyclist — but I’m a motorist, too, and I’ve never minded sharing the road,” said Woodcock, seated in his second- floor office at 433 St. Mary’s Rd., a cluttered space populated by an assortment of bike paraphernalia, including early- model tricycles, framed Tour de France photos and Woodcock’s personal collection of vintage bike licence plates. “ The thing is, I’ve travelled all over the world, and I’ve seen first- hand the benefits proper bike networks bring to a community. “ Obviously, bikes cause less wear and tear to roads, but more than that, it’s what ( the strategy) would do for our health- care system. One day, I’d love to put together a documentary about longtime motorists who for whatever reason switched to a bike, and how much it changed their lives. I have one customer in his 50s who hadn’t been on a bike since he was a teenager. After he started riding to work about a year ago, he’s lost 60 pounds. “ When he comes in here all pumped up and tells me how great he feels... that kind of stuff just makes my day.” . . . Woodcock’s life has revolved around cycling for most of his 51 years. He said he’s fairly certain if you combed Argonne Bay, the quiet, Windsor Park street he grew up on, you would still find traces of his DNA thanks to the bloody injuries he accumulated when he was learning how to ride his first two- wheeler, a Raleigh Glider his parents picked out for him at the old downtown Eaton’s. By the time Woodcock was 10, he was a familiar face at the Winnipeg Police Service’s annual bike auction. At the end of the day, Woodcock used to head home with a dozen or so bicycles in various states of disrepair, which he proceeded to fix and then peddle to his buddies at General Vanier School. Woodcock was 13 when he landed a job selling and assembling bikes at MGM Sports on Pembina Highway. A short time later, he began chalking up victories at mass- start road races, called criteriums, across the city and province. In 1982, the 18- yearold boarded a plane bound for Amsterdam with the intention of spending a year or so honing his racing skills in Europe before attempting to qualify for Canada’s 1984 Olympic team. After Woodcock returned to Winnipeg from Barcelona in 1983, fate dealt him a cruel blow. “ It was really weird. On the way back, I was stuck in Toronto for three days because of a ticket mix- up, and while I was there, I didn’t feel very good at all,” Woodcock said. “ I entered a few races when I got home — I actually ended up winning one of them — but one afternoon I got up from my chair, and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor, unable to move because of the pain in my chest.” Woodcock’s father rushed his son to a walk- in clinic. Following a series of X- rays, a doctor told the pair he was surprised Woodcock was able to walk, never mind ride competitively. Both of his lungs were filled with fluid, the physician said, because of bacterial pneumonia. “ It took me three or four months to get over it, but the end result was the pneumonia had scarred my lungs, and now I had athletic- induced asthma,” he said. “ Unfortunately, back then they didn’t have the types of ( asthma) medication they do now, and the one I was put on had a ton of side- effects. I tried to push through it, but I reached a point where I was fed up with it all and made the decision I should get on with my life and focus on something other than racing.” In 1986, Woodcock purchased a 650- square- foot home at 157 St. Anne’s Rd., which he immediately began converting into a bike shop dubbed Woodcock Cycle Works. In order to make ends meet, Woodcock took on a series of roommates. “ At one time, we had five guys jammed into that little place, including myself in the half- basement. We used to refer to the backyard as the boneyard because it was full of old frames and bike parts. Also, there was a single- car garage in the back that I turned into a spray booth where I custom- painted bike frames.” Woodcock eventually added a 1,000- sq.- ft. addition to the front of his house. Prior to that, what was meant to be a living room served as his retail area. Each time one of his tenants moved out, Woodcock knocked down the wall of the bedroom he had occupied in order to expand his sales floor. About 10 years ago, Woodcock was driving on St. Mary’s Road when he spotted a “ for rent” sign in the window of a carpet warehouse. He went inside and asked the receptionist if he could speak to the person in charge of the building. She led him to an upstairs office — “ the very room we’re sitting in right now,” Woodcock said with a wave of his arm. The owner asked his guest, “ So, you want to rent the place?” Woodcock replied no, he was interested in buying it. “ He took me for a walkabout. It was all dirty and dingy, a lot of the lights were out and most of the machines were covered in soot. But I went home, I drew up a bunch of plans on a piece of paper, and what you see today is almost to the letter what I jotted down that night,” he said. In March 2006, after three months of renovations, Woodcock hosted the grand opening of his current, 10,000- sq.- ft. digs. Next year will mark the entrepreneur’s 30th year in the biz — a milestone that means people whose parents used to accompany them to Woodcock Cycle Works in the mid- to late ’ 80s are now coming through the doors with their own kids in tow. “ It’s really cool to get all these different generations,” Woodcock said, noting he has regular customers from Saskatchewan, Ontario and Minnesota, and from as far north as Thompson. “ I served a woman a little while ago who bought one of the first five bikes I ever sold. And one of my managers told me during his interview that his dad had bought him his first- ever bike from me.” By the way, if you live near St. Andrews and are ever having trouble with your ride while you’re out and about, help might be right around the corner. “ I’m terrible that way,” Woodcock said with a laugh. “ My wife and I were heading out for an anniversary dinner one time when I spotted a couple of guys on the side of the road, walking their bikes. I was like, ‘ Ah,’ and my wife, who immediately knew what was going on inside my head, said, ‘ It’s OK, you can pull over.’ “ So I stopped the car, told the guys I owned a bike shop and asked them what the problem was. One of them had a punctured tube, so there I was in my suit, racing home to grab a bunch of tools and some inner tubes before driving back and getting them on their way.” david. sanderson@ freepress. mb. ca By David Sanderson ‘ I reached a point where I was fed up with it all and made the decision I should get on with my life and focus on something other than racing’ Ride of his life Bicycles are more than a business to store owner Getting back on the bike TIM Woodcock is a living, breathing advertisement for the health benefits associated with getting around on two wheels. Fifteen years ago, he weighed 240 pounds. One morning, as he was watching a group of cyclists fly by his home in St. Andrews, he told his wife, Arlene, “ You know, I’m getting a little heavy. I should probably start riding again.” One morning, Woodcock worked up the nerve to wave down that same bike club. He asked if he could accompany them on their ride. “ They just killed me,” Woodcock said, shaking his head. “ But after that, I started eating right and riding more and more. A customer of mine was a pharmaceutical rep, and he suggested I start taking a different medication for my asthma... “ After I did, it was like a switch went on — suddenly, I started to feel normal again.” Today, Woodcock tips the scales at a svelte 165 pounds. He commutes to work by bike year- round — 40 kilometres each way — and on Sundays, he leaves his house early to embark on a four- hour bike ride. As for how competitive Woodcock is nowadays, well, to mark his 50th birthday in 2014, he travelled to Austria to compete in a World Masters Cycling Federation 76- kilometre race. He placed 11th out of a field of 78. Photos by Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press A collection of bicycle head badges, dating from 1909 to 2011, in Woodcock’s office. Some of the bicycle licence plates on display at the store. Tricycles from the 1940s and ’ 50s. Old City of Winnipeg bicycle licence tags. Tim Woodcock in the showroom at Woodcock Cycle Works on St. Mary’s Road. He opened the location in 2006.