Altitude Ireland
Altitude is a specialist bicycle and outdoor retailer
based in Waterford City, Ireland.

The end of the one year cycle is nigh….Hallelujah!

Lately I’ve been hearing rumours that some bike brands are starting to tentatively step away from the rigid one year model cycle that sees complete new ranges being launched every twelve months. To be honest I’m absolutely thrilled to hear this as I’ve long believed the one year range flip to be detrimental to retail bike businesses. Don’t get me wrong, I get as excited as the next bike nut to see new technology and new ranges - I’ve enjoyed travelling over to Eurobike in Germany and spending hours walking around looking at brands we’ll never sell, oohing and ahhing over new frame designs, new paint schemes and some new way of routing cables. 

But the long lead in, post launch, of some models and the fact that the industry launches just as the Northern Hemisphere is heading into winter (generally August/September is the norm), means it can be March of the following year before some models are available. By June, if a model has been successful, it’s sold out because at that stage production of the ‘New’ model has probably already started. This has happened this year with some key models from Giant - we have phone calls almost every day now from customers all over the country trying to track down a Defy 3 or Avail 3 from the 2013 range. Explaining that the current model is now sold out for the year by June is not always an easy task.

Other factors can also play a part. The prolonged spell of bitterly cold weather during March and April this year somewhat ‘grounded’ the collective cycling community and suppressed demand for new bike purchases and upgrades to carbon by existing owners. This means most shops - including our own - are sitting on surplus stock of carbon bikes that we might have expected to be sold by now. Along comes Shimano and announces 11 Speed Ultegra, making the current stock of 10 Speed Ultegra models ‘old’ immediately. In fact Shimano’s unstoppable train of groupset upgrades across all its platforms - road, mountain and leisure - is one of the biggest problems facing the industry. No sooner have we gotten used to ‘New’ 105 than there’s an upgrade, a change of colour or a total redesign.

Cervelo (not a brand we sell) have just announced a new system of rolling launches that will see models introduced at different times and allow some models to have a longer lifespan. Trek are also heading in this direction and it makes total sense. Entry and mid level models simply do not need to be changed every year- mostly its just the paint that changes. A two year cycle would give shops - and wholesalers -  the confidence to invest in more inventory, offering better continuity of supply and eliminating the fear of being left stuck with expensive unsold stock. Now we just need Specialized, Scott and Giant ( the largest producer of bikes in the world ) to follow suit and we might end up with a more sustainable model from which everybody benefits.

Mr Meticulous.

Tony Ryan first walked in the door of our shop in 1994. We had just moved from a tiny rented premises to the shop that we currently occupy. As someone who had been involved in cycling since the 1980’s I knew of Tony but I didn’t know him personally. He had a good look around the shop, complimented us on have the bikes set up right and that was that. Since then, up until he became too unwell, he was a regular visitor to the shop, every second Saturday or whenever Peggy would be in Waterford shopping. He became a close friend and a mentor - someone that both David and myself had huge respect for. My friend Barry Meehan has written beautifully of Tony on the Worldwide Cycles Blog (http://worldwidecyclesblog.com/2013/04/05/ryaner/) and everyone will have their own stories of Tony’s many cycling exploits. To me though, he was, simply, a gentleman.

He always dressed himself meticulously and always spoke to everyone with the same respect and good manners. He had a habit of addressing any of our female staff members with ‘Hello Lady’, even if he’d known them for years. When it came to buying a new bike the pattern was always the same - he’d order the bike in November for delivery the first week in March. We’d get specific instructions on the cassette ratio and the stem length and then no fuss at all, as long as we’d have it for the first week in March.

His timekeeping was legendary. I remember being in Carrick years ago for the launch of a cycle to tie in with the visit of the Tour de France to Ireland. Tony got up to talk about the time schedule for the event, how it would start at such a time and that there would be a rest stop in Enniscorthy “for seven minutes”. The room erupted with laughter that came to an abrupt stop when people realised that Tony was deadly serious.

He had great expressions - someone who was sitting too upright on the bike was ‘giraffey’. People who went on and on about equipment, or people who thought they knew everything were ‘Fred’s’. He always had a lovely youthful sparkle in his eyes - what his son Paul referred to at the funeral as ‘The Peter Pan in dad’ - and a constant smile. He loved telling you if you were looking lean or fit and he was always interested in how the business was going and he loved to hear that we were busy. We used to refer to him as our silent partner.

At Christmas he’d arrive with a Christmas Cake from Peggy and a card from both of them. These memories will never leave me.

His last visit to the shop was some months back. Peggy was in town and he walked up to say hello. He sat on the steps in the middle of the shop chatting to David and myself, always deferring to a customer - ‘Look after business first’ he would say. And in my minds eye, that’s where I see him now, sitting on those steps, immaculately dressed, that same lovely sparkle in his eyes. Mr. Meticulous. Rest in Peace Tony.

23 and a bit years and 52 employees later.

It all started in 1989. A small shop on Ballybricken in Waterford City - no more than a couple of hundred square feet - and two employees: Me and my friend David Butler. Now here we are, still standing, 23 and a bit years later in a shop that’s a bit bigger and we got thinking about all the people who have worked in this business in that time. Some of them will recognise themselves but for the sake of modesty I’m mostly sticking to first names only:(In chronological order, we think!) Luke (our first mechanic), John Clancy (now our electrician), Conor McGrath (now in South Africa), John Hayes (brother of Ritchie, timber man extraordinaire), Jason H, Leo who crashed my van, Andrew, Bernie and later her daughter Liz, Martin from Tramore via Cork (another mechanic), John B (another mechanic and still a great friend), Leon W (one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet) and his cousin Robert, Eddie D who ran the shop while myself and Dave went away on some cycle, Keith from Carrick (another mechanic),Conor D, Michael Butler (Dave’s brother), the absolutely wonderful Sabrina Duggan from Carlow who remains a great friend and her equally wonderful boyfriend Brian( college boy!) who helped at Christmas, Dan who played the didgeridoo, Pet Shop Dave (as opposed to Sex Shop Dave, don’t ask!) who we still see regularly (and it’s always a pleasure Dave) and the lovely Deirdre (am I allowed to ask if Dave and Dee might be the first Altitude wedding sometime?).

 Take a breath and off we go again…Joe Harney, who makes some of the most sublime music you will hear under the name Deaf Joe ( check out his album Burrowings ), Eamon who stayed up so late at night he fell asleep in the canteen one day and I had to throw a phone book at the adjoining partition wall to wake him up, the lovely Maeve, now a PE teacher in Cornwall,  Catherine B, my cousin Neill B (what a man for the chat!), committed outdoors man James, former vegan Luke (he loves a good sausage now), Dave who thought it terribly unfair that I wasn’t happy when he came to work hungover, repeatedly, Lenny who did fantastic window displays, Shane M (who has told me three times what he does for a global financial institution but I still haven’t a clue what it is), Brenda (now a lecturer in WIT), Liam who had to be constantly reminded that having piercings hanging from your eyebrows was not the most customer friendly look, Patricia, Danni, Jenny, Eoin and we’re nearly at the current team!

 There was Keith Murphy (we were last on the list of places he applied to!) who will go on to become a great hotel manager somewhere very swish and who I count among my very closest friends. There’s mention of a girl who used to bring in loads of cheap chocolate (it was never going to last!) and a Brian I just can’t recall. There have loads of TY students here on work placement - too many to mention and brother in law William who does door security for us every year for the sale. Bill and Robbie Murphy (their older brother Kevin is the only one from that family not to have worked here, and their mam!). There’s my nephews James and Jack who are never quite sure whether I’m their uncle or their boss when they’re here (it’s Boss lads).

And there’s the current team: Conor Murphy (came in one day to cover for his sister and do some cardboard crushing - now he runs the finance and does a lot of the buying, while not in college), Luke Cosgrove (came for TY from De La Salle and never left, studying in UCC now), Daniel Geraghty (came for TY from Waterpark and never left, Dave’s right hand man in the workshop), Sean Bray (need some IT advice? This is the guy), Karen Doyle and Emer Bray (yes, Sean’s sister) who keep our gender balance correct and remind us why females are the superior race.  A wonderful gang of people, all friends. My brilliant other half J still does a lot of the clothing buying and has that razor sharp ability to spot something that’s not right while the rest of us would walk past it. And then there’s me and David, still here, 23 and a bit years later. And a few more to go. Apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone, be sure to let me know if I did.

Daniel Warner and my first spin on a Mountain Bike.

It’s around 1988, maybe 1987 - I can’t be sure, the memory fades a little over the years. My friend John Hennesy and I had cycled from Waterford to Glendalough Youth Hostel one Friday in July. It’s a long cycle by any standards - 87.4 miles according the AA and I can remember stopping outside Tesco in Arklow for sandwiches, sitting on the grass and wondering how long more it would take us to get to Glendalough. No speedometers, no GPS, no mobile phones - just two teenagers on bikes, cycling all day to Wicklow.

We were going to take part in the Wicklow 200 Cycle so Glendalough was our overnight stop on the Friday night. The next day we would cycle on to Glenmalure Hostel outside Eniskerry and from there cycle in to the Marist Fathers building in Dundrum to sign on for the 200 mile cycle around the Wicklow Mountains.

But back to Glendalough. We got there eventually and checked in to the An Oige hostel - for anyone who remembers, it was the one up the steps on the right hand side of the road as you headed for the lake. Happy to have gotten that leg over with, we cooked ourselves some dinner and relaxed around the hostel for the evening. We were sitting outside when a guy arrived on one of the new Mountain Bikes we had seen in the cycling magazines. It was a Specialized Rockhopper and it was one of the most fantastic things I had ever seen.

We got chatting to this young guy, probably only a little older than ourselves and to my delight he offered us a spin on his bike. Up and down the road to Laragh I went on this gorgeous maroon coloured bike, fascinated by the thumbshifter gears and the loud hum that those huge tyres made off the road surface. Daniel Warner was the guys name and he was from Tarzana in California. I’ve never forgotten his name.

The next morning we continued on to Glenmalure and got an early night, knowing what was ahead of us. We got up at 5am the next morning and cycled from Eniskerry in to the start line for 7.30am. It was one of those years where the Wickow 200 was blessed with searing heat - the tar on the road literally melted. It took me months to get the black tar off the underneath of my Paganini and I think some of it was still there when I sold that bike years later. We completed the event, collected our certificates and then got back on the bikes to cycle the 30 miles back out to the hostel. If you think I’m glossing over the event, I am - this story isn’t about the Wicklow 200, it’s about Daniel Warner and the Specialized Rockhopper.

Our original plan was to cycle back to Waterford on the Monday morning but fatigue overcame us and a phone call home resulted in my Mother and Father driving up to collect us in a Renault 20. We stopped at the Meeting of the Waters in Avoca to have a cup of tea. My Dad bought the Irish Independent and after he was finished it, I picked it up to read, sitting on a wooden bench at the riverside. A story caught my eye: an American tourist had been killed near Rosslare when the van he was a passenger in crashed. Apparently he was a cyclist, heading for the ferry and, fearful of missing his boat, had taken a lift from two chaps in a van. They put him and his bike in the back of the van and when they crashed he was killed instantly. In my mind, even now, I can’t help wondering if he didn’t get killed by his own bike flying around the back of that van. His name, the report said, was Daniel Warner and he was from Tarzana in California and I’ve never forgotten his name.

Eamon Barrett / Altitude

Here is a selection of some of the new North Face women’s range for 2012.

Here is a selection of some of the new North Face women’s range for 2012.

Altitude

Altitude is a specialist bicycle and outdoor retailer based in Waterford City, Ireland. Established since 1989, our ethos is to supply top quality products at fair prices and provide the best customer service we can.


Our team of staff is made up of highly experienced cyclists, hikers and skiers who will do their best to pass on their expertise to help you make the right choice in whatever product you are interested in. There are no sales targets in Altitude and no commission for sales staff – our job is to give our customers the benefit of our knowledge and experience to help them make the right decision for them.


At Altitude we believe in supporting the community that supports us. That’s why every year we support a variety of sports clubs, events and community projects through financial donation or equipment sponsorship.

North Face men’s for Spring 2012. Lots of vibrant colours.

North Face men’s for Spring 2012. Lots of vibrant colours.

Fresh batch of Livestrong bands arrived today. We do not profit from these - all goes to the charity.

Fresh batch of Livestrong bands arrived today. We do not profit from these - all goes to the charity.