Champion Bicycles, located on 104th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, is a great neighborhood shop. While Owner Marcos Gratereaux runs the place seven days a week, he still finds time for his three children, his wife of 17 years, training and racing. His story:
When did you open your shop?
I opened in November 1998.
What did you do professionally before?
I worked in the print shop at Shearson Lehman Brothers in Tribeca as a machine operator for eight years.
How many days per week do you work?
Seven days a week, except one week off each year. I may also take a few half days to spend time with my family or rake our yard. 2004 was the first year I took a week off from the shop. I took my family to Walt Disney World for my youngest daughterâ€™s birthday. For the last three years, my vacation has been a visit to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for a three day stage race. In February I plan to visit Santo Domingo again with my wife.
Any plans or goals for the shop over the next year or two?
My main focus is to keep giving great service to my customers and try to always have what they are looking for in my small space.
When did you start racing?
I started after seeing my first bike race as a 13-year-old near my home in Santo Domingo.
Do you remember your first race?
My first race was in the Dominican Republic when I was 15 years old. At that time everybody used butterfly handlebars. I placed 4th and was named champion of the raceâ€™s primes.
Describe your achievements during your first few years of racing.
I made my countryâ€™s national team at 16. We never raced outside of the Dominican Republic but I placed 4th in my first national race and also won two other races my first year on the team. I only lasted two years with the national team because I also had a part-time job and I didn’t want to fall behind in school.
What is your most memorable local race?
As a Cat 4 in 1997, I won a Prospect Park race but was disqualified for raising my hands too early before the finish line.
How long have you been racing on your current team?
I have raced with Miya Shoji for the last three years. The only thing is the team consists of me, Mete Basakinci, and our team manager Zui. I love Zui, he is my boy.
Why do they call you â€œChampionâ€? When did you get the nickname?
My friends started calling me â€œThe Championâ€ after I won a number of races in field sprints around 1997 and 1998.
What races did you do in 2007 and what was your best result?
This year I did six Spring Series master races, about six in Prospect Park and about five CRCA. My best result was a 3rd place finish at the Spring Series. For this yearâ€™s October race in Santo Domingo there were 105 racers and I finished 4th overall and tied with three guys for 3rd in the +40.
What do you think are the greatest recent changes to NYC racing?
There are many more races and more races for women.
Where did you meet your wife?
We met in high school in the Dominican Republic. We have been happily married for 17 years.
How old are your children?
My son Jose is 15 and we have an 11 and 7 year old daughter, Laura and Rosalia.
Was baseball one of the first sports you were introduced to in the Dominican Republic as a kid?
Not really, I played with my Fred Flintstone car and pedaled around everywhere â€“ no wonder I love cycling. I also liked roller-skating and skateboarding.
Your son Jose is an avid baseball player but also enjoys cycling. Has Jose raced or are you encouraging him to?
He hasnâ€™t raced but is training to race soon.
Do your other children have favorite sports?
Jose also plays Football. My daughters play a variety of sports at school.
What are your wifeâ€™s favorite activities?
She likes walking in the park for exercise. She stays very busy with the family at school and home. I am really happy and proud of my wife Rosalia as we have three wonderful children.
Are their any favorite sports or games you enjoy as an entire family?
We play ping-pong, Parcheesi, and air hockey â€“ I usually win.
How do you balance your business, having three children, being a good husband and finding time to train?
Each day from 10AM to 8PM I focus on running my shop. I train only when I have extra time. If the family does not need me at home sometimes I ride in Central Park after work. If I do not have new merchandise to deal with, I may ride before work. In the summer, I train with my son Jose, but I usually train with anybody I find in the park or on 9W.
During the season, what does your training schedule generally look like?
I train when I can which ends up being about three days per week of short fast rides. There are weeks I have extra responsibilities at work or home making training impossible. Some weeks I just race.
How does your training regimen now compare to when you were younger?
When I was younger I would go home to eat and sleep after riding. At 42, after I finish my ride to Nyack, I rush to work not sure when I will find time to eat.
896 Amsterdam Ave.
@ 104th Street