If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be living in Meaford, Ontario in an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town I probably would have scratched my head and figured that you were insane.
In 1996 I was working in Toronto as a Senior Sales rep for Canada’s top stock photography house Masterfile. My desk overlooked Bloor & Sherbourne and life was good, the salary even better and dentist visits were free – I was one happy cat…well sort of…
Then I fell in love and everything changed.
My crush came to me in the form of a bicycle that I aptly named Bessie after my mom’s old yellow car that we drove in the seventies. During those early years after University I had no vehicle and cycling became my main mode of transportation. Bessie was an old KHS courier bike that I bought used for five hundred dollars. Bessie was not about the bells and whistles, in fact you could have argued that she was just darn ugly, but to me she was the most beautiful bike I had ever owned!
I will never forget the feeling I used to get when I was flying down Yonge Street on that old bike – all my worries spun out off the back tire and into the air and it was heaven on wheels!
So what does all this nostalgia have to do with the success of the Fly Gurlz mountain bike community?
That pure feeling of bliss and joy is still burning a fire in my belly and in the end that’s what keeps you going as you make your way through the entrepreneurial maze of the business world.
Remembering why you started something in the first place and holding that dear will keep the dream authentic and real for everyone involved. As the Director it’s my responsibility to keep that dialogue open – authenticity will never lie and often illuminates both the strengths and weaknesses of what you do and how you do it on a daily basis.
It has not always been easy keeping this business going and I would not have it any other way. We all have heard it before and it is true – the good times are that much sweeter when you have navigated your way through the rough patches.
Fly Gurlz has come along way since those dreams first caught fire in my heart. 2000 women have passed through the community in one way or another and accomplished things they never thought they could! That is something to be proud of and to never take for granted.
Bessie is now living In Toronto with my good friend Chris. My brand new custom team edition Devinci freeride bike is in the garage waiting to be built and set free out on the trails of Three Stages and Blue Mountain. I have aptly named her Bessie the seventh – in honor of the bike that started it all!
So if you see me out on the trails, or at an event and I am pinching myself it’s just my way to double check and make sure that I am not dreaming. I honestly love the Fly Gurlz community and feel blessed for each day that I get to work in a field that I truly adore!
go go Fly Gurlz go!
Michelle Ward is the Director of Banana Seat Productions Limited, the company that manages the Fly Gurlz mountain bike team and community. She is married and lives in Meaford, Ontario with husband Dave and son Kale.
Banana Seat Productions Limited
347-115 First Street
Hop on board Banana Seat!