Earlier this year I sent my application to Richard Wadd, and I’m now a marketing intern at Kona Bikes in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Photos and words by Sophie Bossier.
Please allow me to introduce myself – my name is Sophie. I’m a 22 year old BMX racer and MTB rider from France and I am now in Vancouver with my single suitcase, my bike, my boyfriend and my questions as baggage – haha. I would like to share my adventures with you through a weekly report about my trip and my experiences at Kona in B.C., as a French female rider and as an intern with the fabulous Kona family.
My trip to B.C. raised a lot of questions in my mind. Where is the best place to live? Is Canada different than France? How are the people there? How do they live? Will I experience culture shock? Will I be able to speak English? Is Kona a big company? What does it look like? How is the team? Will I have the opportunity to be involved in the marketing team? Will I have the time to ride my, or their bikes? How are the trails in B.C.?
After one week in Vancouver, I can answer a few of my questions, and I can tell you with no doubt that I’m excited for all that I am experiencing. It is only just the beginning!
The Canadian Dream
Culture shock? Yes and No. Yes, but in a very positive way. In Vancouver, the culture is organized around bikes. In France, people turn their heads in the street when you wear your full face helmet, you don’t ride on the road for fear of getting crushed by a car, and most believe it is nonsense to spend more than $300 on a bike. Vancouver has a culture that encourages and revolves around riding, with bike paths everywhere, a wealth of bike jump parks, endless trails, bike shops on every corner, pick up trucks full of $5,000 two wheeled machines at every stop. Here, riders are kings, nobody can stop them, except maybe bears. There really are bears here and I am excited to see some.
I live in North Vancouver, near Deep Cove, in the Seymour mountain area with a nice family. Only 2 minutes from the nearest enduro trails, 3 minutes from the dirt jump park, 5 minutes from hiking, 10 minutes from the BMX racing track, 15 minutes from the downhill trails, 30 minutes from the biggest Canadian indoor bike park, 45 minutes from Squamish, 1h15 from Coast Gravity Park and 1h30 from Whistler. In a nutshell I am so happy. I will skip all the details for now and tell you more in my next article where I will introduce you to my incredible agenda for the next few months. I am living the Canadian Dream.
My First Day at Kona Bikes
Don’t try to find a big brand new building with a Kona Bikes sign with employees in suits… Kona is more like the cave of Alibaba for riders: once you have found the building – and it’s not that easy to find – you enter and discover the treasure!
Bikes, everywhere. At first a showroom at the entrance with all the best pieces from the new lineup. Then, an excess of bikes everywhere, from the hundreds of archive bikes and frames suspended from the ceiling to the prototypes hung on the walls and hundreds of derailleurs and forks right out of the box with all kinds of other components. Looking for an unusual part? You’re likely to find it here!
They gave me a tour of the company. It’s easy – 2 floors, 4 offices, hundreds of bikes and my future colleagues, which could be counted on the fingers of two hands. However, I hear the US headquarters in Bellingham, Washington is a bigger playground. I get the hang of it.
On my first day at Kona I was introduced to my new colleagues. The first one I met was the guy I sent my application to 3 months ago. They introduced me to him, telling me his name was Dik. I found this confusing. I didn’t understand because I wrote to Richard Wadd. They all found this so funny, laughing and explained that the shortened slang name for Richard is called Dik, it’s like a nickname. They laughed again and explained to me that in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, I wrote to email@example.com. Damn! And then it got worse. They told me what Dik Wadd means. Too funny, imagine me, a carefree young French woman who has learned English only in books.
And that is Kona – all things are like this at Kona. It’s cool, quirky sometimes but really fun – I guarantee it. But don’t be mistaken, Kona is a very serious company – you’ll see it in my future articles.