Her name is Gwen.
Gwen owns and operates a custom boat cover company located near the “big lake” where I like to cycle.
I met Gwen quite by accident. I was looking for a floating dock company I found on line. I needed a new dock. And fast. I pedalled into a small business complex on the outskirts of town where I thought the business might be located. All but one of the doors of the complex were shut, as if the spaces were not in use. Vacant. One was open. A custom boat cover studio.
I ventured in asking for the dock builder, and met Gwen. Gwen is a petite woman with greying, disheveled hair, and a welcoming smile. She works alone in her studio crafting custom covers for boats of all shapes and sizes. That day, she had just completed a cover and upholstered seats for a vintage speed boat. It was beautiful.
I asked Gwen, “Is there a dock builder in this complex?”. She quickly gave me the scoop. He tried to rent space but the deal fell through and, instead, he located 35 km to the north. I thanked her and, as I was leaving, asked “You do nice work. Have you ever made covers for bikes mounted on a hitch rack?”. You see, ever since the bad experience I had crossing the country a few weeks earlier, I had been designing the perfect bike cover for Chas and Lou.
Gwen said “Sure!. I just finished one for a fellow that travels to Florida every winter and takes his road bikes with him. Would you like to see a picture?”.
This was music to my ears. A new friendship ensued.
Gwen is the quintessential craftswoman, taking pride in all the work she does. She works slowly. Methodically. Creatively. Anticipating both the aesthetics and function of every piece. First, we began with a lively discussion about the difficulties I encountered and the ideas I had. She listened patiently, and then responded with a host of better, more practical solutions. Then she got to work. Over the next several weeks she measured, made a template, completed at least 3 fittings, and finally delivered an exquisite bike cover. Just in time for the return trip.
The cover is fitted for Chas and Lou when mounted on my Yakima hitch rack. Lou at the back nearest the car. Chas up front poised for a quick ride. Two zippers on the underside enclose the bikes completely, and all touch points – hoods, pedals, saddles, drive train, skewers – are reinforced to eliminate possible wear. It is easy to put on and take off, nice to look at, compliments the car (that’s important), protects the bikes from the wind and rain, and discourages would be thieves.
I was so impressed, I left Gwen with a winter project. Together we picked out material for her to reupholster two chairs and a sectional to be ready for next summer’s visit. These pieces have sentimental value. I didm’t want to replace them. They belonged to my mother, and I helped her select them for her house years ago. They suit the cottage now but need a face lift.