Marissa Plamondon-Lu

Owner/Mechanic - Bikurious
Montréal

 

You have to be really strong to make a place for yourself in the industry, especially when you’re a woman, but that’s never scared me. I biked all winter, every day, 365 days a year. Snow, rain, hail, ice, I don’t care!

I’ve always found that, in Québec, we’re so spoiled, there are wonderful bike paths. It’s not as bike-friendly as cities like Portland or Copenhagen, but we can’t complain. In Montréal, I can go anywhere by bike, in summer or winter. To say nothing of the beautiful trails in the surrounding area. Going to the plage d’Oka or on the P’tit train du Nord in summer, there’s nothing better. Especially when there’s beer or ice cream to be had, afterwards.

"We took over the premises, a bit of gear, and we opened our own shop. That was 10 years ago."

Bikurious, my bike shop, is not an ordinary place. We were located in the Village before moving to the Latin Quarter last year. They’re neighbourhoods that attract all kinds of customers: mothers with their kids, students, bike couriers who are a little weird, competitive athletes. All these people have one thing in common: they have a bike and they use it.

I went into the business wanting to help the owner of the former shop that was on our premises. I was helping her manage her finances, that were not in too good of a shape. When she decided to close her doors, Mackenzie, who was a mechanic there, asked me if I wanted to take over the shop with him. That was his dream. I said to him: “I’m 22 years old, I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Why not? I know management, and you know mechanics. Let’s take over the bike shop!” We took over the premises, a bit of gear, and we opened our own shop. That was 10 years ago.

We’ve always had a social mission, and a lot of community spirit. We took over a business owned by a woman, which is very rare in the industry. Her mandate, which is still Bikurious’s today, was to hire as many women as possible, and to encourage the presence of women and members of the LGBTQ community in cycling. Inclusivity is extremely important here, everyone is welcome here. The challenge for us is to develop a shop that is competitive while promoting those values. 

"You have to be really strong to make a place for yourself in the industry, especially when you’re a woman, but that’s never scared me."

It’s changing, but the cycling world has always been dominated by men. With time, women are quietly making a place for themselves. I see it in my cyclo-cross competitions. A few years ago, there were two or three of us. Now there are three women’s categories, and dozens of women at the starting line. I think I can say that I’ve contributed, in my own way.

"I can’t change the sexism that exists, but I can choose how it will affect me"

You have to be really strong to make a place for yourself in the industry, especially when you’re a woman, but that’s never scared me. I don’t let myself be easily intimidated. There are often clients who will be more demanding with me than if I were a man. This is still the case, even if I’m the boss, even if it’s my hands that are dirty and it’s been 10 years that I’ve been doing this.

I can’t change the sexism that exists, but I can choose how it will affect me. I’ve always gotten a boost of confidence when I say to myself: I have my mechanics’ training, I started my business, I’m successful in a male-dominated field, I create jobs, and I’m living my passion.

It can be hard or frustrating at times, but when you think of that, you say to yourself, “My work is crazy, but whatever!” We deal with all kinds of people, but we fix their bikes, it’s not like we need to fix them, you know!

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