Monday Sep 10 2012
Former teacher battling arthritis turns cycling passion into business
By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
Erin Gorrell and her husband Wilson own and operate Folsom Bike as well as Town Center Bike & Tri. Erin has competed in triathlons and endurance rides. For one of her rides, benefiting underprivileged youth, she rode 300 miles in 24 hours. How and when did the idea of a bike shop get started? We began considering opening a bike shop around the end of 2008. We both have an immense passion for cycling and wanted to take a different approach to what a typical bike shop would look like and take retail back to focusing on customer service and the community. Tell us about your stores. Each store is nearly 6,000 square feet. Our Folsom store has our very own full-service coffee shop built into it to provide a place for people to meet before or after their ride, take a break to hang out in between or even set up office and work all day with our free wi-fi and free refills. Cycling is very much a community sport and we want to provide an atmosphere for people to come and hang out with us and tell us where their next adventure is taking them. Our El Dorado Hills store also provides a warm inviting environment and a lounge area so if you are waiting for your bike to get serviced or just need to take a break for a while, there is a place for you hang out, relax and pass the time with our friendly staff. We invite anyone who has never been to our stores to stop by for a free cup of coffee or cold drink on us. What do you like most about your job? People. I love people. I love the amazing staff that we have that helps us fulfill our vision for the store on a daily basis and I love helping people with their cycling goals and needs. It is so much fun for me to get people excited and passionate about cycling and to see them make a lifestyle change that becomes contagious. What were you doing earlier? I was teaching high school for about 10 years and elementary school prior to that. What are some of the most interesting things that have happened to you? I have been able to meet a lot of professional athletes, travel to Europe two times to see the Tour De France and continue to learn from others that share our same passion. What are your favorite places to bike? My favorite places to bike are quiet rural roads where I can appreciate the beauty of where we live, the challenge of the terrain and the time I spent riding with my husband and boys. Do you give back to the community? We try to support as many local community events as much as possible. There are so many people in need whether it is raising awareness for multiple sclerosis, cancer research, sex trafficking, Wounded Warriors or providing bikes for children every Christmas, that we try to do what we can to support and raise awareness to all these worthy causes within our own back yard. Tell us about your family. My family consists of my handsome husband Wilson Gorrell and our four children, Wilson Tyler, 17, Austin, 16, Noah, 14, and Kayla, 13. We are a family of cyclists and enjoy our rides together as well as traveling and hiking and of course working together. Austin and Noah both work at the bike shops with us. Of what are you most proud? I am most proud of my family. Not just my husband and our children, but the family I work with everyday. I truly love our team of great people. Each one of them brings unique gifts and talents to our business that contributes to the success and vision we have every day and for that I am most proud and grateful. What is one thing about you people might be surprised to learn? I don’t like to talk about it much, but many people may be surprised to learn that I have suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for the past 10 years. I was diagnosed pretty young and it was severely aggressive on its attack to my body. I have been on so many different medications and treatments, foods, homeopathic medicines, and more, all in an effort to slow down the process of deterioration to my bones and reduce the swelling of my body. It can be mental and physical drain on a daily basis, if you let it be. However, my motto always is “It could be worse.” It has definitely allowed me to be grateful for the things I can do rather than the things I can’t do. Maybe I can’t always race to the level I used to or want to, but I can still run and ride my bike on a daily basis which is a blessing. Things are often modified depending on how my body is feeling that day, but I choose to still try and accomplish what I can. I have finally come to terms that I will always have to be on medication for the rest of my life, but there are many other people out there that suffer from far worse things. So I choose to be positive and grateful and not give in to the disease, but smack it down by still doing what I love every day.