Penny Hospitality founder Hugo Pedler was once a competitive track cyclist, but his aim now, through new Hutt Street retail shop and café Contour, is to build a bigger cycling community in Adelaide.
Contour is a café, bike shop and cycling community centre
Cycling has been a part of Hugo Pedler’s life since he was 11 years old.
The founder of Penny Hospitality — a hospitality heavyweight in the postcode 5000 — was a track cyclist and in the competitive pipeline to make the sport a career, but got burnt out by the process.
“Some of the guys I used to race with are now pro guys. People like Matty Glaetzer, multiple gold Olympic medallist. He was in the same program as me when we were growing up,” Hugo tells CityMag.
“[I] Spent my whole teenage life as a track cyclist, and had a lovely experience with cycling, but… the extreme levels of training at that young age, it’s make or break.”
Although he took some time away from the competitive side of the sport, he never put away his bike.
And as Hugo’s hospitality career has blossomed, the idea of creating something for the cycling community has always been at the back of his mind. Four years ago, he started thinking more seriously about this concept, and the brand Contour soon developed.
Last week, just ahead of the launch of the annual professional cycling festival, Tour Down Under, Hugo unveiled the first physical manifestation of the Contour brand on 144 Hutt Street in the city’s eastern pocket – a café, bar, bike shop, service centre, and hang out spot for avid cyclists, those keen to try and the disinterested.
For those with no interest in the sport, there’s coffee and pastries; for those vaguely (or extremely) familiar, there’s not only the bevy of pushy-related retail items and services for sale, but also a program of led rides for the sake of community-building.
“We did a led ride [last Saturday], and we had 60 or so riders come out. It was awesome,” Hugo says.
“We took them on a big ride in the Hills, and brought them back for a coffee. Different groups were interacting in the space all day.
“It was a really nice way of integrating cyclists and non-cyclists in the most basic format.”
This evangelising is the point of the brand, as well as breaking down common some of the spandex-wrapped elitism within the sport.
“There’s no [brand] that’s there for the community, and that’s one thing that I noticed in my cycling career,” Hugo says.
“There’s this elitism in cycling that I think slowly needs to be dissolved. That’s one of my biggest passions of Contour, is to stand for all cyclists. It’s not just if you’re racing crits on the weekend or how fast you do Norton Summit. It’s about getting on the bike and having a good time and having a place to meet people at the bare basics.”
Patrick Sharrad is the manager at Contour, who comes to the project from both the racing and hospitality worlds. He’s already seen some non-cycling clientele make the physical space their own and is enthused by the probress.
“We’ve had a few locals walk in and go, ‘Oh, this looks cool’ and they’ve been about to walk out, but they’ve stopped for a coffee, they’ve sat down, and they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s actually a really nice space to come and chill out’,” he says.
“I just want to something that is cool for cyclists but also appeals to a broader audience as well, rather than just the cyclists… Because it is a weird sport, but it’s a sport that when you get into it, you can just go down a rabbit hole and go crazy.”
For Hugo, the next step for these people is to convince them to jump on two wheels.
“If we can have that journey for even one person who comes in here and experiences the space, that’s not a cyclist, and goes, ‘Oh, this’d be a really nice way to get some exercise or get some freedom in my life’ and buys a bike and starts going on led rides with us and joins the community, that would be a really special moment for me,” he says.
And he plans to be as accommodating for people early in their journey as regular riders.
“We’ve got a slogan at the moment, ‘All bikes welcome’,” Hugo says.
“If it’s a $50 Malvern Star that’s got a rusted chain on it, we’ll still service it and everyone’s welcome here.
“Whether you’re racing A-grade crits or you’re riding a vintage BMX bike, it’s just a cool space for everyone to come and hang out.”
Contour is hosting cycling brand Rapha during the Tour Down Under and operates from 7am ‘til 9pm during the cycling festival.
Outside of TDU time, Contour will open 7am ‘til 4pm seven days, and weekends ‘til 9pm during summer.
Later in the year, the Contour Stage Two will launch, which will include more regular nighttime bar trade and the addition of food trucks.
Follow along with the site’s progress on Instagram.