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When compared to some European or American cities like Amsterdam and Portland, Toronto has a ways to go to really build up a reputation as a bike-friendly city. But Rob Bartel, owner of Velotique, is pretty impressed at the growth he’s seen here since he first became passionate about cycling in his university days. “I like to say we have a lot of potential. Cycling has more than tripled in that time for sure.”

Rob studied urban ecology in university, which introduced him to the theoretical side of city development, and was able to put that knowledge to use while managing a bike shop from 2001 to 2013. This led him to eventually buying Velotique in September 2013. “I knew that bikes were a growing industry, so having found myself better trained for running a retail shop than just about anything else, I started looking around,” says Rob. Luckily, he happened across the already-established Velotique and immediately fell in love with the place. Velotique was also selling cross-country skis in the winter, which was an added bonus as Rob competes and regularly trains on skis and roller skis in the early morning before the shop opens.

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Toronto's best shops to gear up for winter sports

Toronto's best shops to gear up for winter sports

One of Toronto's most-beloved bicycle boutiques also moonlights as the city's epicenter for all things cross-country – skis, poles, bindings and boots – covering the full gamut, including race-specific carbon skis from Fischer and recreational-orientated planks from Salomon. Staff is warm and inclusive, and psst, they know some of the best in-the-city trails to get you started on the most scenic routes.

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