A glimpse into the world of professional cycling
Have you ever stumbled across a professional cycling event on TV and wondered who those guys in the support cars are? One of them happens to be on your safety support team at the Gobble Gobble Four Miler. John Columbus started tinkering with bikes out of necessity. He was a bike messenger in Boston in 1991 and kept having to repair his bike. He went to the Boston Public Library and found everything he could to educate himself on bicycle maintenance and would order parts himself or buy them from a local bike shop as a do it yourself-er. It didn’t take long before he found himself employed as a commercial bike mechanic. There was a company in Boston who sold bike tours to Europe where one would stay in five-star hotels on vacation package deals. They had a fleet of different types of bikes and John took the job. He had to maintain hybrids, touring bikes, trailer equipment, locks etc., and he was good at it. He would box it all up and Fedex and UPS it out to Italy or Spain and that was all great.
By 1997, he decided to apply as a mechanic at a local bike shop. It was there that he met a pro race mechanic who passed along the tools of the trade to him so that he could specialize in serious racing bike maintenance. He kept encouraging him to go to the Olympic training center. John has been a professional level mechanic since 2007. He was trained both in Rhode Island where they did regional training at the time and in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Center itself.
Since then he found that having worked in local bike shops here, there was a niche market of triathletes and competitive cyclists that he could service as a specialist. His business is called Race Doctor Pro Cycling. People would walk into the bike shops on a Thursday and realize “Oh I have a race this weekend and I should really get my bike tuned up.” With the kind of volume at most bike shops, the customers don’t realize that the turnaround can’t quite always be quick enough to get you set up and to your race all tuned up on the same day. That IS something he can offer in his business at Race Doctor Pro Cycling and at an extremely high level. What is more, he can come and get your bike from you and return it to you. John understands that you might not have thought about the fact your bike needs to be in top shape for the weekend until it is too late to help you. That is why he formed a business with quick and reliable service that has hit the ground running since 2014.
One of the contingencies he put in place for the summer months was to still keep his hands in the racing world. This summer in fact, he found himself flying to Belgium as a landing point and working in the Czech Republic and Germany for a racing team. It is a tough and dedicated life to work a team’s equipment. Though the cities change from day to day they must work from their base and have all of the equipment gathered, show up early to have everything ready again at the beginning of each day cleaned and running perfectly at performance optimized level to the next start line.
Locally in Naples, on days in the summer where things are slow he will occasionally just go out and help people he sees that breakdown. He sees that as not only good business as his vehicle is easily identified by his brand, but as a way to advocate for better safety. He will occasionally strike up a conversation with cyclists that he sees to warn them of how dangerous our area is and to obey safe cycling habits when he sees situations arise. He tries to lead by example and about 75% of the time, it is met with gratitude.
You can see John giving back at several events for causes that he tries to support. He helped with the Pan-Florida Challenge for Hungry Kids, for Cyclefest Miami which benefits a battered women’s shelter, and with Campagnola USA for a ride in NY with 5.600 riders among others.
While he enjoys being his own boss, he has a great appreciation for what it takes to run your own business. He calls it a “crash business course and the best you could receive.” If you want to get a professional tune up for your upcoming race check out his facebook page here: