The pit stop was not part of Markus’s plan. “It’s a bit unfortunate,” he says.

He’s parked his bike along the side of the road and is trying to fix a large wooden box on the back of it. The screws that attach the hinge to the lid have fallen out. “Always be prepared," he says with a smile. 

Although Markus didn't bring a screwdriver, he's never without a work ethic inspired by the tattoo on his arm – a flaming phoenix feather. “It’s the symbolism of starting again, rebirth,” he explains. “Giving your all, over and over again.”

Markus was first introduced to the phoenix while devouring Harry Potter books. The inspiration for the box he made on the back of his bike was opening another box during his best Christmas ever. 

Markus was eight years old and received the only thing he had asked for: an Easy-Bake Oven. “I was blown away!”

He hasn’t stopped baking since. But what began as child’s play turned into a young adult’s source of comfort. 

Whenever his friends saw him in the kitchen making cookies or scones, “They’d go, ‘Oh Markus,’” he says, mimicking their sympathetic tone. “‘Has it been one of those days?’”

A couple years ago, Markus started wondering: If baking could turn his day around, could it make others happy too? He decided to start a mobile bakery. He planned to attach a three-level cart to the back of his bike, filled with baked goods, sandwiches, and drinks. He called it The Bikery. 

“It’s a big dream!” he says in a promotional video for the business. Two years ago, Markus realized his dream, but only momentarily. 

It was dashed by a perfect storm: a long-term relationship ending, another major project disbanding, and his mental health suffering. “You feel very isolated. You feel very alone,” he explains. “Your brain is like it’s in a fog.”

The oppressive fog refused to lift for a year and a half until one day, Markus got out of bed and said, “I'm going to the kitchen.”

He started making pretzels from memory, recalling his dad’s recipe that he tweaked. 

“They didn’t look as good as I wanted them to, but I looked at it and said, ‘You know what, I did it!’ And the next day I did it again,” he recalls proudly. “Now, I’m doing it every day! And it’s the best feeling ever!”

Now, like that phoenix from the flames, Markus's dream has been realized again. The box on the back of his bike he was fixing says 'The Bikery.' 

“This is my first day on the streets,” he says triumphantly. 

His reimagined bakery on a bike simply sells pretzels in original, savoury (asiago chedder), and sweet (chocolate drizzle) flavours. “You see me, you flag me down,” he explains how the business works. “You get a pretzel!”

You get food striving to comfort, powered by pedals, and fuelled by the perennial power of the phoenix.