What does it take to make a bike shop work in a small logging town, tucked next to the Atlantic on Newfoundland’s West Coast? Ask Cycle Solutions founder Peter Ollerhead, and he’ll come back with two big things: put in the work and bake some good pie.
Peter started Cycle Solutions in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in 2003. Ever since he’s been building. Building a business, building trails, building community. Today, riding and trail building has a “cool factor”—especially now that pro snowboard photographer and Rocky Mountain ambassador Dru Kennedy is working with Cycle Solutions. But 20 years ago things were different (to say the least). Getting a shop going meant building more places to ride, first.
“I would be at the trails by myself. Six to ten hours a week on my own, just trying to bake enough pie for people to have a reason to buy a bike,” says Peter. Those earliest days were back in 1994, which mostly involved “following loose trails through the woods trying to find the best line for ripping single track.” A couple decades and a bunch of pie later, Corner Brook is now—quite possibly—the best kept secret in Canadian riding.
The secret sauce, of course, is largely in the trails. But community elevates Corner Brook to something special. One major component? Wheels of Thunder—a trail riding and building program for kids and teenagers kickstarted by Cycle Solutions in the early 2010s.
“We try to keep it pretty loosely structured, make sure the kids are having a lot of fun,” says Peter. It’s a structure that works. “The kids that started last year, they’re coming back this year,” adds Dru. “Now they have the skills and know the trail network, and they’re helping us out on rides as tail gunners or head guides.”
Dru, who started riding six years ago to fill his off-season from snowboarding, is now responsible for building some of Corner Brook’s best known trails—and keeping the community game for trail build nights. “28 people showed up last night 33 people showed up the week prior, everybody was there for about four hours. That’s huge for a town of 30,000.”
After decades of building trails and community, the Cycle Solutions crew is keen to share the results of that effort. Beyond trails, extensive gravel and road riding loops tie the experience together. Because, from Peter’s perspective, trails are just the tip of the iceberg—it’s the destination that really counts. “No one person is going to come out here for two days. They’re going to come for a week and they need enough to ride.”
From the start, Cycle Solutions has built its business around Rocky Mountain. “They’ve always coincided with what we’ve wanted to do here and supported our trail building,” says Peter. “We’re a small shop, but they’ve made a huge effort with us, which really stood out.”
And while on opposite sides of Canada, Rocky Mountain just happens to suit Corner Brook’s coastline and terrain really, really well. “Our landscapes are pretty well the same, except our mountains are just old,” says Peter. “Big fjords, massive climbs, exceptional coastline, our coastline is rough and rugged.” Sure, there might be similarities, but don’t mistake Corner Brook for a carbon copy of, well, anything in the world. “You can ride on an incredible coastline with icebergs and whales in the background.” Worth the trip, definitely.