AJ is the owner of G2 Bike, a specialty cycling shop in Aliso Viejo. G2 is well-known for Hill Repeat Rides; Girls Ride 2 MTB & Road groups, G2 Crew CX team, G2 Spin sessions, classes, clinics, coaching, and events. I asked AJ to meet with me to share part of her story, and she happily obliged.
When I first meet her at G2, I am instantly taken by her confidence and energy. She’s self-deprecating and charming, offering me something to eat or drink while joking about her love of Diet Coke. Once seated, I jump at the chance to snuggle with her sweet, fluffy little dog, Joey.
The G2 Bike shop is immaculate and thoughtfully laid out. It’s a unique and inviting place. We talk about the shop and AJ’s start in life, and it’s clear that she’s always worked hard for her achievements. Every detail in the store has the AJ signature on it, which is unsurprising because she helped put it all together.
It strikes me that you are focused on staying small and providing a very particular type of service. How would you define your shop’s mission?
People say if you build it they will come; I say that's not true… you have to give them a reason to come! I want to motivate people. From the photos we chose to the jerseys we've hung, to the certificates we've hung; everything has a story behind it. All of it matters to me because it represents the community we've built. And I want our community to feel like this shop is theirs, too.
You don't market G2 Bike with ads or sponsorships, and your Facebook & Yelp pages are full of overwhelmingly positive reviews. Why is that?
When you're genuine with people, they connect with you. Over and over again I hear "I don't just come here to ride, I come here because it's my second home." I'm always hearing stories about people who got into cycling because of G2 or got back into it because they have a community with us. And if any of them bring in a race picture or share with me, they know I'm gonna shout them out on Facebook! And I think people appreciate that.
How do you find balance in your life?
Well, cycling is how I get rid of stress, and I’ve built a family and network through cycling. I take “Dawn Patrol” rides with my friend, and my best bonding moments are during rides. It has become my social life. The truth is that I don’t have much time for relationships outside of the cycling community.
What do you feel could encourage more women to ride?
Cultivating positivity among the women and finding a balance in groups. You can have a female-specific bike, the right gear, the right instruction, but you need to be riding with the right people to make it all click. I think finding more like-minded women that you “click with” really helps. It’s really up to “us” women, in my opinion, to be leaders and cheerleaders to other women.
What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Telling my story about how pedaling has changed my life! It’s made me more confident, bold, successful. I receive messages weekly of these inspiring stories women share with me. They’ll tell me that they got started through riding with the Girls Ride 2 group, or because of something cycling-related that I did. That’s huge for me, to encourage women in that way.
Can you share how you "dig deep"? What advice do you have for when the going gets tough?
One of the things that I remind myself of is that I have the ability to suffer. Don’t assume your experience will be painless; expect pain. No matter what shifts in your life, find your resolve and accept that suffering is inevitable. Get comfortable with the fact that there will be people who are dissatisfied no matter what, and that there will be individuals who don’t like you.
At this point, Robin Kinney, co-owner, walks in and I seize the opportunity to ask him about AJ.
So, tell, me, how does AJ inspire you?
She’s got an incredible work ethic and just so much enthusiasm. She never says “We can’t.” It’s always “We can do this, we’ll figure it out.” One of her famous quotes is “Just get shit done.” She’s got such a positive attitude and is a master of multitasking. She’s the brand here, I mean, G2 is AJ. She treats everyone like they’re important and never acts as if questions from inexperienced riders are dumb questions.
What is something about her that others would be surprised to know?
She comes across as tough and with this BIG personality, but inside she is soft. She cares about people and their struggles. She’s had a very challenging life, and so she’s had to be tough. This world is a tough place. But yeah, inside she’s as sweet as her little dog Joey.
AJ is authentically herself, and you can’t possibly separate the woman from the brand. Her heart and her passion drives not only her business but inspires the community around her. AJ, in her words and her example, encourages people to lead authentic lives and challenge themselves.
AJ, you are one inspiring & loved woman. Thank you for all you do!