Skyline and its attached cafe, Boxcar can be handily found on the DRL at Cults. Its proved a a popular destination for Aberdonians in the last year providing coffee and cake during those sanity saving lockdown walks that we all took. Scottish Adventure have proudly announced Skyline Cycles as a business partner and with a forthcoming breakfast social ride departing from Boxcar later this month, we sat down with John Mackenzie the owner of Skyline Cycles / Boxcar for a chat.
Scottish Adventure (SA): Let’s start off by tell us a bit about yourself. How did you find yourself running a bike shop / café in Cults, what is it that you like about Cults and the wider area?
John Mackenzie, Skyline Cycles (SC): Good question! I sometimes wonder this myself! During the first lockdown as soon as we were allowed outside, I started to look for things to do. Bike tracks were still off limits, so I looked for other avenues for fun and got my hard tail mountain bike out and started exploring the areas around Cults. I had never done this properly before in the 10 years I have lived in the area and was surprised to find so many cycle routes and paths.
On one of our family runs on the bikes coming back from Duthie park we notice a change on the Station Building in Cults. I stopped and looked inside and noticed that the interior of the building had been cleared out. So, I made some calls and found out the owners details and gave him a call to find out what was happening with the building. Then a few days later we met and had a tour around and we made an agreement that day for me to take on the lease
From there we started making plans for clearing out the building and surrounding land and coming up with a plan for an active café & bistro, something more casual and fun for people using the line, cyclists and local families with kids. The bike repair shop came out of a requirement for cyclists using the line and my frustration with having no repair shop in the area. It was a hassle having to take a car into town and hoping I might get a parking space. Boxcar was always planned for the outside area as its great for people on the go who don’t want to sit down or wait inside a building to be served while negotiating with prams, dogs or little kids !!
I liked living in Cults primarily for the school, where the kids have settled in really well after returning from overseas. Since I got a year at home and time to explore, I’ve found I love Cults for the greenery and the fact I can start from my house and travel to so many destinations on trails and paths without really going onto a road.
Scottish Adventure (SA): Diving in a little more to Cults and the surrounding area, what would you like to see in terms of infrastructure in the area? And how does that dovetail in with plans you might have for Skyline and Boxcar?
Skyline Cycles (SC): We have decided to change out plans and incorporate the repair shop in with the café/Bistro and I didn’t think it would work at first. But I researched more and found some good examples of this, and Boxcar and Skyline cycles have been warmly accepted by locals over the past year with no issues.
Other things I would like to see would be development of the skate park at the top of the hill in Cults, next to the primary school, there was some money spent there a while ago and its improved a bit, but not nearly as good as it should be for the area. There is also the issue that the skaters don’t like the scooters or BMX bikes on the ramps, so it’s not all inclusive. I would like to see a proper bike / skate park built for the kids in the area to try and get them off computers more and out into the fresh air.
Scottish Adventure (SA): What are the services that Skyline offer? Do you plan to expand the services you offer?
Skyline Cycles (SC): We pretty much repair any type of bike going from simple repairs to full strip down and redress of down hill and enduro bikes, replacing bearings, sourcing parts. Once we go to the next stage of planning, we would like to rent bikes from the facility also, e-bike rentals and possibly tours.
Scottish Adventure (SA): As a business owner, what do you do to relax away from the day to day and recharge?
Skyline Cycles (SC): Ok, so during lockdown I was given a loan of a E-Bike for a day and that was me sold! After coming off a hard tail onto a full suspension enduro e-bike it was like chalk and cheese. I couldn’t believe how much extra fun was to be had on a bike! So, I saved up and purchased my own one and that’s my go to place for fun and to get away from it all. It can be an easy run around Countesswells or a mad run down Scolty Gauch! This bike does it all, it’s the best money I every spent and my happy place. If I am not doing that then it’s just spending time with the wife and kids, going for a walk or cycle, cinema, bowling or a meal
Scottish Adventure (SA): Is there an adventure sport you would like to try for the first time this year? If so, what is it and where do you plan to do it?
Skyline Cycles (SC): Well, I have thought about giving some Enduro racing a try this year in the local series, but I guess it will depend on my work schedule and fitness!
Scottish Adventure (SA): What’s your favourite part of Scotland and why?
Skyline Cycles (SC): Not an easy question! My first thought would be Aviemore as I spent a large amount of my childhood on holidays there. We went skiing almost every weekend in the winter when there was snow and spent weeks during the summer rambling about the hills and scooting about on my mountain bike.
We’d also swim in Loch Morlich or go out on the Toppers (Sail Boat) with my dad. There was also skating in the ice rink or swimming in the pool. Pretty much lots to do!
Its changed now the centre is gone but the natural scenery and trails and better than ever with more trails and walks for people to enjoy.
Scottish Adventure (SA): You are busy working away at the helm of Skyline and you need something to eat / drink. Boxcar is right next door. What do you get?
Skyline Cycles (SC): Cappuccino, Diet Irn Bru, Bowl of Lasagne Soup and a billionaires slice
Scottish Adventure (SA): Thanks John! great to hear about the plans for the future. look forward to visiting Skyline for the Scottish Adventure Breakfast ride and fueling up at the Boxcar
For those wishing to join the ride on February 26th, see Spond link below