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ICE Ages, Chapter 3: Chris Parker

Chapter 3

Jumping back in time to 1978 a school boy aged 11 was starting to turn his favourite toy into a lifestyle.  His name was Chris Parker. As time went on the lifestyle became little short of an obsession as first road bikes then mountain bikes took over his life. Fortunately time was found for an education and at the age of 19 he became a self-employed furniture maker and restorer.

By the age of 21 he was at university studying design, graduating with a degree in Pottery (it was going to be a furniture design degree but there were lots of nice girls studying pottery). With a pottery degree you can get a job in adult education, so he did.

To cut a long story short, boy meets girl, girl moves to Cornwall, boy gets big phone bills, boy leaves job and moves to Cornwall to marry girl. Boy needs job, jobs hard to find, boy makes two recumbent bikes from old unwanted machines. Boy rides to visit local recumbent manufacturer Crystal Engineering. The rest as they say is history.

But most of this history is as yet unwritten and therefore isn’t history yet so…

 Chris found a workspace in a condemned building for short term rent and became self-employed, making wheels and other small parts for Crystal Engineering. In his spare time Chris developed recumbents; a tandem, and then a compact long-wheel based bike called Road Hog.  While R&D is fun, it does not pay bills and a lack of finance hampered developments. Prototypes were made by robbing parts from Chris’ slowly dwindling collection of bikes; the rest of the collection was sold to raise money for new materials and parts. Moving workshops was a common event as one condemned building after another was pulled down. The last building available at a low rent was due for demolition imminently.

Until now Chris’s wife Karen worked as a nurse to pay for the food on the table and a rent for the caravan (trailer), until the patter of tiny feet loomed on the horizon! A measurable panic was noticeable in Chris as the realization that his cushy life was about to end; it was time to get the bike building business generating a liveable wage, or he was going to have to get a “proper” job!

Chris knew Peter Ross, the owner of Crystal Engineering, was looking to sell the business to enjoy a well-earned retirement. However, as money was in short supply buying a business seemed impossible and Chris was running out of belongings to sell to buy food. Chris visited the bank manager who listened politely to his business plan and said “NO”. He needed a business partner. But where do you find someone with enough money, the right skills and a belief that the seemingly impossible (in this case making a living from selling recumbents) was in fact possible.

Chris looked, prayed and waited. There was one week left until this last workshop was to be pulled down…