If you’ve ever wondered what its like to find out you’re having a baby whilst riding up a mountain with Chris Hoy, to raise £1,000,000 crowdfunding and even get inside the Tour de France, read on. Vulpine’s founder Nick Hussey views 2015 through the important dates in his diary.
A very personal insight into one of the most talked about brands in cycling.
Friday January 2nd
Went to meet Sir Chris Hoy (Chris) at his house, as we wanted to do final checks on the pre-production samples of our opening range. Amusing sight of Supreme Athlete Chris and Average Lardy Nick, stood next to each other in front of a mirror, in only bib shorts, me with my paunch and hairy legs, he with, well…We both wear exactly the same sizes. How?
Sunday January 18th
Arrive in Palma, Mallorca, with piles of bikes and new kit, to shoot new Vulpine season and HOY Vulpine opening range. It was sunny as we checked out locations. Good times.
Monday January 19th
Our first shoot with photographer Liz Seabrook. Poor Liz has food poisoning. We rode around Palma all day in the sheeting rain. Nothing passed her lips but she is determined to do a nail the shoot. That’d be the Spring Summer shoot…Ummm.
Tuesday January 20th
Liz is ok now, but it’s still lumping it down. Thankfully that we have a new Waterproof Utility Jacket to shoot. Met back at the AirBnB and planned how to salvage the shoot… I never fret. Today I am close to a full blown fret.
Wednesday January 21st
We arrived at Palma harbour at 07:30 and started shooting as soon as the sun rose above the sea. SUNNNN!! ATTACK!!! Liz slammed through garments as Robin and I threw new ones at poor Jess, Jools & Jon. We cover the entire Spring Summer range in an hour and three quarters. Fist bump Liz.
Thursday January 22nd
Chris arrived at Palma Velodrome and was as smashing as ever. Spain’s own track cycling god Joan Llaneres showed us around.
Chris rode his handbuilt Shand around an empty stadium and I wondered what was going on in his head. There was an eerie atmosphere amongst us. Very respectful. This is his first ride since Callum was born prematurely. Chris won World titles here too, back in 2007.
Kat & Josh rode around with him, and Chris coached them. Buzzed off their evident delight. A once in a lifetime experience for most! Then headed off into the mountains from some road shots. We’re all having a great laugh.Ned Boulting arrived to interview us for The Observer and Guardian. Mat Brett doing same for Roadcc. Chris and I scrubbed up, grab a large drink each and entered the fray. Chris has done thousands of interviews. What a pro. It was fun.
A couple of hours later we all sat together around a huge table, sharing tapas and caning the wine. All the models, Chris, our guide Dan Marsh of Marsh Mallows, journos, photographer Juan and Vulpine monkeys Robin & I. Huge fun. What a day. What a week!
Friday January 23rd
Ned, Mat, Chris and I rode out with Jess & Josh (now a couple – they met on a Vulpine shoot), Kat and Dan.
Photographer Juan hung out the back of a van, shooting Chris & I for The Observer, then we were free to go. Stopped in pretty village called Valdemossa for a second and Emmalou calls. SHE IS PREGNANT AGAIN!
Chris wondered why I was grinning so hard. Avoided the question, not wanting to jinx anything. What a week…Descended hard through hairpins with Chris, feeling incredible, full of joy. Dreamland.
Friday 6th February
Telegraph interview. Cathy Bussey continued to chat to me after Chris has gone. Off the cuff, joked that it’s about The Hero and The Hipster. She uses that as the title. Gah. *shakes fist*
Saturday 14th February
Launch HOY Vulpine at the London Bike Show. After Chris had gone I came back to see a couple buying some HOY Vulpine gear at our stand. ONLY GREG & CATHY LEMOND!
I’m pretty standoffish about talking to ‘celebs’ but I HAD to. Refused to take payment, but they refused not to pay. Got the obligatory selfie. They’re both lovely. Chris met Greg too, and as we’re both the same generation, was also starstruck.
What a day! Totally knackered and looking forward to taking it easy for a bit. New brand launched. Back slap.
Sunday 15th February
Mum tells us she has cancer. Real life between the eyes. Thwack.
Friday 6th March
12 week scan for Baby Hussey Two. All is well so far. Emmalou and I wondering how the hell we’re going to manage another tearaway amongst the other lunacy!
Tuesday 7th April
BLAB entrepreneurial design presentation in Manchester to a sizeable crowd.
Watch it here if you’re interested in real-world cycling or design business advice and some dodgy jokes.
Monday 4th May
Invited to Downing Street, as Cameron launches the Conservative’s Small Business Manifesto. Politely turned it down. I don’t want Vulpine to be part of anyone’s political agenda.
Tuesday 5th May
Had problems breathing since March, and been to A&E a couple of times. Asthma diagnosed, and is found to be caused by London’s air pollution, exacerbated by my commute cycling, which seems a cruel irony.
Specialist blithely said “Welcome to London, my friend. That’s just how it is.” Shocking that such serious pollution is now so normalised. More determined than ever that we should be helping grow cycle commuting. A new source of determination.
Wednesday 6th May
Back to hospital again for baby’s 20 week scan and it’s a girl! Will need to be caesarian in early September, currently the same day as we launch new website!!
Saturday 6th June
5 hours in 30c Catalonian heat, longest I’ve ridden for years, due to back issues. Great prep and news for Ride 100 in August.
Girona is awesome for cycling, culture, food, everything really. No wonder most of the English speaking pros live here, I would. Maybe one day we will.
Thursday 25th June
First meeting with The Design Museum about inclusion in their cycling exhibition. Manage not to look too over-excited. I am over excited.
Friday 24th July
Eurostar to Belgium to stay at Helen & Stef Wyman’s house in Oudenaarde. Covering our Matrix Pro Cycling team as they prep for La Course for roadcc.
Saturday 25th July
We travel in the Matrix camper to our chateau outside Paris. I take photos of bored/excited/hungry riders. The entire team, support crew and hangers on (hello!) are taken for a meal by Stef. Sitting next to Olympian Lucy Martin is cool, but she eats half of my meal. Pro cyclists eh?
Sunday 26th July
The Best Bit! We headed into Paris and the buzz begins. Collected press accreditation and I’M IN! Stood in the middle of the Champs d’Elysees for the entire race. Hoofed with rain and its all rather epic, which is even better. Not sure the riders appreciate the rain like I do. What a dream.
I watch as Geraint and friends shepherd Froome to the finish. Awesome.
Sunday 2nd August
Ride 100. The longest I’ve ridden since was in intensive care for my back, in 2010. Rode within myself but could barely breathe. As I pootle out of London into Surrey, the lungs ease and I start powering, feeling awesome. Stretched at every single 10 mile feed marker, and there are no back issues.
Witnessed 20+ crashes, mostly on the right hand side, as inexperienced but fit riders jostle for position and pass without any warning. Gel wrappers rain down around us, and tried not to let other’s selfishness spoil it all.
At the finish downed a few cold Pimms and feel very content indeed. Pooled (was capable of no more) home in the hot sun and did 120+ miles, with no issues. Elated.
Monday 10th August
Flight to Kong Kong to do ‘Big Business’. Completed presentation on the plane and managed to sleep. Winning.
Wednesday 12th August
Due to the time difference up 5 hours after arriving. Blarg. Presentation on future of Vulpine for our Asian factory owners, with a Q&A and individual meetings for the next 6 hours. It seems to go fine. Phew.
Grabbed a quick swim before jumping into the next meeting with a potential investor. We talk for hours, get on famously, then crashed and burned.
Thursday 13th August
Early meet at the offices of the billionaire interested in investing in Vulpine. Up high, overlooking Hong Kong Harbour and feeling ‘pro’. No longer the startup guy, I guess.
The experienced chap who introduced us was visibly shaking with nerves, which upped the ante a little. Fielded polite and relevant questions from The Billionaire and her number one and two, flanking her. They were all really polite, fair and likeable, to my surprise. I guess I was expecting to be destroyed. There is talk of major new deals to be done in the future. Its a bit surreal. Must stay grounded.
Wondered around the luxury malls of central Hong Kong high on possibility, and wonder what Vulpine might look like in a few years time. Will it be as I hope and expect?
Got the last flight out, buzzing after an insane few days, and dreamt of family.
Friday 27th August
Crowdfunding is on! After weeks of negotiation, we agreed the Hong Kong deal wasn’t right for us. I begin work to raise £500,000 on CrowdCube. I’d rather crowd fund and have the public own us and help us build.
Wednesday 9th September
Beautiful new website launched. Moved from Lyra’s birth date!
Thursday 24th September
Crowdcube filming at Vulpine Central Command with Jools and I. Jist is that people need to know about who I am and my vision for Vulpine. So plenty of me in film. Urk.
Tuesday 29th September
Shooting with Chris for our CrowdCube film. Forgot spare lungs, so spend most of day wheezing. Damn it he’s strong….Obvvviously.
Mum heard Chris Evans on Radio 2 asking why oh why does cycling clothing have to be so naff? Chris Hoy and I are happened to be together. He knows Evans and texted him. Handy.
Wednesday 30th September
Woke up to find everyone is trying to get hold of me or Chris. Chris Evans is asking for someone from Vulpine or Chris to call in. Unbeknown to me, Chris has just got his first full night’s sleep for an age, as Callum has slept through. Eventually Chris jumps onto the show by phone, and we get a massive plug to millions.
The website crashed due to the spike in traffic.
Friday 16th October
Interview with the Sunday Times, then flight to Bologna, to ride with CrowdCube North to South across Tuscany. Pretty over excited and worried, as I’ve barely ridden the bike since Ride 100 because of work/Lyra.
As The Sunday Times piece is confirmed to appear with good placement I also decided to move Crowdcube launch forward to Sunday, to coincide with the article. It was a busy trip to Gatwick!
Saturday 17th October
Bologna – Firenze. 150km. I’m here to finish and for fun, not for show, and as the road rose, it was the right decision. Just rode my own pace in last position on the road The first descent was exhilarating, steep and technical, with on-camber hairpins. Absolutely perfect. Was shouting at myself, alone, on fast sections “THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT! YES! YES!”
Really love descending. Really do.
Finished the day in the dark, last. Crushed but happy, grabbed a shower, stuffed down some snacks and started answering CrowdCube messages. We’ve given Vulpine customers the chance to get involved first and there are hundreds of emails!
Sunday 18th October
Firenze – Orvieto. 155km. We launched and I tried not to check my iPhone too much as we zipped down through Southern Toscana. Ping. New Investor. Ping. New Investor…Ping…. It’s addictive.
Was alone again for most of the day, unable to keep up, but glad of the rare hours of solitude to think clearly. To take in the year and plan.
Climbed up into the beautiful medieval city of Orvieto in the dark, an exhausted and happy cyclist. Then, onto the hundreds of business plan requests.
I’m terrified we’ll fail, and answered every email personally until 4am.
Thursday 24th October
£500,000 in 4 days! Just after 8pm Emmalou and I hugged and opened the champagne. We’ve just taken £230,000 in 24 hours. Wow!
Friday 28th November
All of us at Vulpine help out at Wheels For Wellbeing, a disabled cycling charity, as we Do Good Friday, giving 20% of our sales to charity for the next 4 Fridays, the opposite to Black Friday.
Monday 21st December
A massive decision after a huge year: I announce that we are now searching for a new Managing Director to work with me to create an even better Vulpine. I will become Brand Director and specialise in the stuff I really love: Ideas, design, research & development, events, film and photography. What a year.
Here’s hoping your 2016 is full of fun, riding and not too much of the tougher stuff.
Ride well, Nick.