30 Sep, 2015

Over The Bars, a Journey


My idea for a T-shirt/gift range for cyclists started in December 2013 when I worked at a bike shop over the Christmas period.

Many people asked for a gift for the beloved bike-fanatic in their lives. It can be really hard to buy a gift for a cyclist – We all know how pedantic we can be with the tools and kit we use – so customers usually walked out with a couple of bombs, maybe a bike light, chamois cream (always useful) or small multi-tool for their stockings.

I thought that, as a sales person, my life would be so much easier if we sold cool casual tops, mugs or key rings … and why aren’t these for sale?

I soon forgot about the idea as I moved to Nelspruit to be closer to my new sponsor: Valencia Wholesalers and Coach Bosseau Boshoff. I focussed on my riding, and started getting really good results in the National Marathon series.

I won the Old Mutual Joberg2C and got selected for the SA marathon team. I was in the best form of my life for SA Champs and on track for world champs when, without warning, I developed a bad case of Achilles Tendonitis. This marked the end of my racing season for 2014. Quite devastated, I was forced to take seven weeks to heal.

To keep from going mad, my over-active mind wandered back to shirts and gifts. Also, without racing, finances took a major toll … As they say: ‘necessity breads innovation’.

I started thinking of ideas and filled a scrapbook. Everyone who saw these ideas loved them and it was then that I decided that this is what I am going to do. I wasn’t too sure how but I’m always up for a challenge and I thought what the heck, I’m young, I have nothing to lose (life savings can be resaved) and everything to gain.

As for the company name “Over the Bars”, I basically brain-stormed a list of cycling slangs and jargon. It’s no secret that, during my career, I have spent an above average amount of time over the bars …

Soon after, I got labels made with washing instructions: 100% pure bike rider. Be sure to pick bugs from teeth. Clean ears thoroughly. And then the top washing icons.

I then had to narrow down and pick a few of my ideas for the starting range. I have four designs in my women’s range and three in the men’s range. Without going into detail for every design, they are basically a combination of my imagination, inspiration from friends and the internet.

It is no exaggeration to say it took seven months longer than I anticipated to launch the range. I had initially planned to launch it in November but with all the hiccups along the way, it eventually happened in June. Launching a T-shirt range in the middle of winter is not ideal, but I am just glad it is out there!

It was 19 June when I got my first order from Sprocket and Jack in Parkwood. Since then, Valencia Wholesalers in Nelspruit have put the full range on its shelves, Tool-Up in Centurion have become a retailer and Bruce Reyneke West Rand will be selling them too. As I write this, I wait for more stock and am seeing more shops.

Over The Bars is in the truest sense, in its infancy stages. I have so many exciting ideas and visions for the future, but before I delve back into that scrapbook, I need to focus on selling my opening range and grow my capital.

I am fortunate to have my MTB Skills Clinics, another passion of mine as a steady form of income. As for racing, I have endure, stage races, marathon and single speed SA and World Champs in the pipeline.

The road I have chosen has not been the easiest or conventional by any means but it has been an adventure, and I plan on keeping it that way!

Amy Beth McDougall

Amy Beth McDougall

Contributor |

Amy Beth McDougall is an elite mountain biker who has won many local races and represented South Africa at the highest level. We've found she can write too!