I grew up in a town called Benoni near Johannesburg, South Africa. I have always had a love and affinity for bicycles. A fond memory of growing up is of my friend Neil having a Raleigh Chopper and replacing the ape bars with road drop bars. We would sit on the long saddle together and pedal with our feet two up on the pedals, it felt like we owned the roads. Neil was from a cycling family and eventually went on to become State road champion in his teens. I loved hanging out with the family, attending cycling events, working on bikes and training with Neil often.
In my early teens I was gifted a bicycle by professional cyclist Alan van Heerden (A Giro d’Italia stage winner) and the very first thing I did with the bicycle was strip it down and repaint the frame, the shape of things to come.
Later in life I had the fortune of friendship with Paul Farrance, retired Directeur Sportif and head mechanic of Team Barloworld, a team that had both Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas in the squad. His protege, Gary Blem became head mechanic of Team Sky. Under the regular tutelage of Paul, I was privileged to learn at the hand of the master. Insight, skills and attention to detail that I value every day. During this time I cycled as a licenced amateur with unmemorable results, but learning excellent cycling skills, especially in bunch riding, enjoying the camaraderie of the peloton.
Beginning in 2013, my friend Cliff Barker (A national MTB cross country champion) and I designed and built over 15 miles of MTB trails, developing the world’s first MTB trail on a 100 year golf course in my home town of Benoni. We built this course on weekends over a two year period, completing a world class course that continues to prosper today. A very satisfying achievement.
In 2016 my cousin, Ian Hessel, a resident in the USA for over 35 years, offered the opportunity to be the operating partner in Capitol Bicycles. We continue to operate out of London Kentucky, a gift of a lifetime that I continue to love and enjoy every day.
During my short time in the USA I am grateful to have assisted so many customers develop and realize their dream rides. Besides the joy of handing over every new bicycle to its new owner, I am proud to have built and painted a custom frame for Giovanni Prosperi, a member of the 2 man team that won the under 50 years 2021 edition of RAAM (Race Across America). I am likewise proud to have designed and built a fat tire dirt jumper for Tim Ferry, an Iowa dirt jumper State Champion.
My passion for paint and reflecting a little bit of each owner in the frame finish is what drives me to build a bicycle that is truly a One of One. Each unique in its own special way.