Cycling, Edmonton | 2 comments
Edmonton cycling scene
By: Zdenko Kahlina
One of the oldest bicycle shops in Edmonton moved this year to its new location. After more than 30 years residing on 101 Avenue, at the east end of the city, current shop’s owner Calvin Berube moved the shop further south at Argyll Road, as part of the growing process when they needed more show room space.
New location: 9833 – 63 Avenue, Edmonton
This move prompted me to pay visit to the original owner of the Velocity Cycle Shop – Joe Zombor, who originally started this bike shop back in 1981. Joe has retired few years ago and is riding his bicycle when the weather permits. He is also very active ping-pong player and still plays three times a week.
I met Joe Zombor in 1989, when I was new in Edmonton. He was the first person introduced to me in Edmonton cycling community. Right away I knew he was an honest person who liked cycling the same way I did. Joe invited me to join Velocity Cycling Club and connect with Edmonton cycling, which I did. Since than I always had high respect for him. When I called him for this interview, he was surprised, but didn’t send me away. Instead he invited me to his home where we chatted for more than two hours.
Velocity Cycle shop at old location
About Joe – original owner of the Velocity Cycle shop
Joe Zombor was born in Hungary in 1935. He lived in the capital city Budapest, where he was growing up as a teenager. In his youth he raced on his bike from 1953 until 1960. His main goal was to get into the national team, to get opportunity to travel outside of Hungary and immigrate to the west. At the time Hungary was under the Russian iron grip and the living was hard.
He progressed from junior level all the way to the first class senior rider. In the mid 50s he was recruited in the Hungarian army for almost two years (1955-1956). Joe was a finished typesetter by profession. Than one day, the opportunity finally came and Kathy and Joe moved to Canada, because his brother George was already here. At that time he left his trade and began working in the print shop, together with his wife Kathy.
Joe Zombor with the original Velocity Cycling Club jersey made of wool.
They both worked night shift for several years and didn’t like it. He noticed that Edmonton had only few bike shops, not nearly enough for the growing cycling community. He always dreamed about working in the high level bike shop, which would sell high quality top level 10-speed bikes and other cycling equipment. In the early 70s bike business was blooming in Edmonton. He started to look for the opportunity and purchase one established bike shop to start a business on his own.
Once during the visit to South side Cycle & Sports shop, he met the owner (John Dawns) who was trying to sell his business. The price was too high and Joe didn’t make purchase at that time. He waited for several years before he noticed a small add in a daily paper, that this same store was on bankruptcy sale. Joe and Kathy submitted their offer and waited. In November 1978 someone from trustee called them and informed them that their offer was accepted. And like they say, the rest was history. They finally owned their own business.
Pretty soon Kathy also quit her job at the print shop and both of them started working in their new bike shop, named “Velocity Cycle” shop. The shop stayed on 101 Avenue until the end of last year.
Since cycling was in Joe’s blood, he always had idea of having a cycling club associated with his store. In the seventies there were only two cycling clubs in Edmonton: Nameo Cycling Club and ERTC of Edmonton. Couple of years later, in 1981 Joe have had started new Velocity Cycling Club in his store with the help from several bike enthusiasts from that time. First names that pop in his mind are the Willberg brothers (Chris and Karl).
Joe and Kathy were once again organizing cycling event
Velocity Cycle store was not only about cycling. They were selling hockey equipment, and Kathy was telling me, how they had to learn in a hurry all the names for hockey equipment and parts. Soon the news about good customer service in the new Velocity store spread through the city and the business was blooming. They even learnt to sharpen kids skates and became one of the best in town.
The store was providing job opportunities for others as well, because it was doing so well. One of the first people who joined Joe and Kathy was Randy Murchison. Their personalities worked well together and soon after Randy purchased half of the business from them to become their business partner.
Joe with Randy Murchison – ex co-owners of the Velocity Cycle store
Joe Zombor was involved in Edmonton cycling on many levels, not only through the store. As mentioned before, he founded the Velocity Cycling club. In addition, Joe was also one of the first members of the Edmonton Veterans Cycling Association, which was started in 1986. The first meeting of the Edmonton Veterans Cycling Association was held on June 16, 1986 at the Italian Cultural Centre. Of the nine people in attendance that day, only Joe Zombor is still a member. The EMCC arose from the perceived need for age-related bicycle racing in Alberta.
Velocity Cycling Club members with Joe
For the Velocity Cycling club, Joe was helping organize bike races and purchase first club jerseys with his own money. He was always committed to the club and racing. For some races, he would also purchase medals and other prices, as cycling never had enough sponsorship that would provide all those things for riders. Joe and Kathy sponsored several Cabotto criterium races in the area of Little Italy in Edmonton. Joe remembers how in 1982 and 1983 he sponsored club junior team to travel to Colorado (USA) and made their appearance in the Red Zinger cycling stage race.
Joe and Kathy sold their store in 1995 as they wanted to retire. They still visit the store when ever they can, but it appears that these days they have less free time than before.
Velocity Cycle store – new location at 9833 – 63 Avenue
Grand Reopening and Win Your Ride
Well, this was little bit about the history of the Velocity Cycle store and who started it. Now the store has a new owner – Calvin Berube, and they just moved to a new location (9833 – 63 Avenue).
Calvin is young enthusiastic entrepreneur from Edmonton, who purchased this store several years ago from Randy Murchison. He was also successful bike rider in his youth and he even won 2002 Western Canadian Championships and was second in 2002 Canadian Championships the same year.
These days they are getting settled in, more and more as time goes by. The mechanic shop is fully open for business, the bike fit studio has been busy, and they draw nearer each day to unveiling the new look on their website. For them it’s been great to welcome all the new and familiar faces in their new home.
No more exclusive Marinoni shop – they have lots of Giant bikes
So, mark your calendars for their Grand Reopening, which will take place April 1-2. April 1 will feature Breakfast Television live on location! You can find the event on Facebook here.
In addition, on Saturday April 2nd, you will have the chance to Win Your Ride. All bikes bought from the day they opened new doors on February 1st, 2011 to the end of this Grand Reopening event will be eligible. They will draw a name at random and one lucky customer will win back the purchase price of their bike!
Big new show room and huge selection of bikes
Big new show room and huge selection of bikes
New show room is fully stocked with bikes
Welcome to the NEW Velocity Cycling Club location!
So, when the bike shop moved, the associated Velocity Cycling Club moved too. Velocity Cycling Club is an Edmonton based cycling club that was founded in 1981 by Joe Zombor – the original owner of the Velocity Cycling Store.
During its infancy, the club was primarily a racing team with an emphasis on road and track racing; however, over the years the club has broadened its focus to include BMX, cyclo-cross, and triathlon.
Today, Velocity Cycling Club is one of the largest clubs in the province with cyclists ranging from the weekend enthusiast to provincial and national champions. They have a group of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers on the executive committee. Their goal is to have a cohesive, team-oriented club with an undying penchant for the big ring.
Velocity is committed to promoting the sport of cycling at all levels and abilities and hosts several well attended events throughout the year including: the Ardrossan Stage Race, the Shishkebob Track Event; the annual Harvest Ride and Anniversary Ride; various BMX and road skills camps, and winter spin class sessions. They participate in Alberta Bicycle Association sanctioned races throughout the province as well as the local Tuesday Night Race Series and Master’s Racing Series (for members 30 years of age or older). Additionally, they are members of the Argyll Velodrome Association and Edmonton BMX Association which provides members with access to the local velodrome and BMX tracks throughout the riding season.
Velocity club members in front of the old store in 2006 – ready to ride
Velocity Cycling Club members in 1985
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Velocity Cycling Club, come on out and join club members for one of their weekend recreational rides or their winter spin class sessions. For more information, check out their Membership Sign Up form on their website.