Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2006 Masi website update;

Ok, ok, ok... what did I say about nagging me about the Masi website? Keep this up and I will just pull the website down and then you won't have to worry about it anymore. Will that make you happy?

Seriously though, as I mentioned previously, the new website is getting a total rebuild and not a cosmetic facelift as it has the past few years. This new site will be a much better website and will get frequent updates and work to announce new models and arrivals. Believe me when I say it will be worth waiting a couple weeks for. We are close, very close, so a little extra patience will be good for you.

Are you happy now? You've made me feel bad and hurt my feelings... nah, not really.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

And now a word FOR our sponsors...

Ok, this is just too good to leave buried in the comments section of the blog, so I am posting these up here in plain view...

These are comments posted by one of the riders from the A&F/ Inferno team and from the team director/ rider from the team;

Jeremy Grimm-
Sweet bike! Very happy for you Tim.

By the way, the bike you gave me is so much better than my Trek Madone
5.2. This winter is going too slow, bring on the races.

Thanks a Mill!

Chad Thompson-
From all of us at A&F/Inferno; Thanks for the "sweet kit" comment.
Verge did an amazing job with our uniforms.

Anyhow, I wanted to comment on the bikes: WE ARE ALL WAY MORE THAN HAPPY OR
SATISFIED with our Masi Gran Criteriums. We abused those babies for 5 straight
days - dirt roads, gravel roads, tank tracks, smooth roads, not so smooth roads,
sun, rain, even a creek crossing (yes, we rode threw it . . . thank you Spinergy
and Kenda) - they [Masis] were bullet proof!In fact, the bikes are light, VERY
stiff and perhaps the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden. The feedback
from the guys was unanimous.Thanks Tim and Masi! Now we CANNOT WAIT for the
carbons. You know the address, Tim!

And, for those enjoying the blog on Mark Hekman - you ain't seen nothin' yet!

- CT

And another testimonial...

Ryan Rish-


The Masi Gran Crit is the best bike I've had. I've gone through quite a few team bikes over the years (Trek, Specialized, Lemond, Orbea, Bianchi, Torelli). The Masi is the best ride by far.

Thanks for your passion and support.

-Ryan Rish

See? I told you!


Saturday, January 28, 2006

What's happenin'?

It's hit and miss with the posting these days, here at Masiguy World Headquarters. There's just too few hours in the day to stay on top of everything and try to take over the bike world.

For those of you who are anxiously waiting to see the new 2006 (and beyond) Masi website, let me assuage your fears. We will have a new and vastly improved website soon. Since I'm not the one who is actually building the site, I can not tell you the exact date it will be complete. It'll be sooner than last year's site (the current one), but it won't be ready today or even tomorrow. Soon my friends, soon. So stop nagging me already! Jeesh! (It'll be worth the wait, I promise.)

The A&F/ Inferno team sure is looking pretty sweet. The kit looks pretty cool and distinctive, so they should stand out on the podium. The team bikes came together really well too. The feedback from the riders, after their first team training camp, has been pretty good. So far they appear to like the bikes quite a bit... I would say "I told you so"... but I'm too grown up for that. I can't wait to see some race pics and see the guys tearing it up all over the place.

The biggest news going right now, for me, is that it looks very much like I am going to be heading to Australia to assist our new distributor with the launch of Masi down under. To say that I am excited is obviously an understatement. Not only am I happy to be launching the brand in a new country, but I am excited to be working with such a great company. I have many contacts in Australia these days and look forward to possibly running into a few folks while in the country. On top of it all, right now it looks like I'll be there during the Commonwealth Games and might just get a chance to see some world class racing up close and personal... AND there are rumors of getting onto the Dunc Gray velodrome. (Do you see what I mean about being lucky to have the job I have and why I love it so much?)

We are working really hard to complete our graphics and colors for the next range of products. As I've mentioned in previous posts, this is sometimes a loud and contentious process. This year is a lot better than previous years- for a multitude of reasons- but it is still one of those nailbiting experiences. It is an exerceise in professionalism for me. I have to put my own personal bias aside and try to work with our creative group to come up with bikes that will appeal to the broadest range of potential consumers. As our Big Cheese Joe Hawk frequently states; "come up with bikes that will offend the least amount of people." That takes some work. I mean, left to my own devices we would have an entire line of bikes with simple, clean, classic retro-inspired panel graphics on all the bikes. Some people would love that, like me, but I have a feeling that we would be in the minority. A little modernization can be a good thing. It is hard for me to drop my own bias sometimes, but I have to think of the total picture of the brand and the goal of selling more bikes. If I were personally welding the bikes myself and only selling a few bikes a year, I could maybe get away with the 100% retro thing, but I have to keep the big picture in view at all times; I'm getting paid to steward the brand to greater growth and distribution. That means increasing sales in a very competitive market. That requires a very broad appeal and not a narrow focus.

Our next ad for ROAD magazine has been completed and will be in the April issue. So far, our first ad was pretty popular.

(Suitable for use as a desktop or wallpaper.)
ROAD has been getting some nice growth and is gaining a bit of popularity. If you haven't seen the magazine before, pick it up and give it a thumb through. It's done in a very large format, like VeloNews, but with thick glossy pages and lots of photographs. If you like road bikes, it's worth peeking into.

My riding has been all over the map, similar to my posting here. I get a few good rides in and then I miss a few and then I ride again... and then I miss some rides... it's a difficult pattern. Oddly enough though, my legs are starting to feel reasonably good- especially after the thrashing I got in Texas. Next weekend is the first crit of the year in San Diego. I am torn between doing the race and watching from the sidelines. The course has always been pretty darned good to me. I've podiumed there a few times, including a solo win where I lapped the field all alone (best day on a bike I've ever had). Needless to say, I have a soft spot for the course. It finishes with a big ring power climb... which suits my sprinting style perfectly. I feel like I have some good turn of speed right now, but my endurance is really horrible. The race is only 45 minutes, but it is also a 30+ and not a 35+... which means it will be as fast or faster than the Pro race. Umm... I don't feel that strong. If I can hang in for the final 500 meters of the race, I have as good a chance as any other sprinter in the race at that point. The problem is getting to that point... and it's a BIG problem. The course doesn't really leave you anywhere to hide or recover because it is usually a very fast race.

I'm really hoping to do some race reporting this year too. Similar to last year, just lending my perspective to existing coverage and commentary. My Tour de France coverage last year proved to be very popular and I got a lot of emails asking me what it was like to be in the race caravan; people thought I was actually covering the race live from France. Cool. So we'll see what happens this year. With the travel schedule I am likely to have, it might prove to be difficult... but we'll see.

I'm done rambling now. Sorry for the less frequent posting these days. The good news is that Masi is doing well and a lot of things are going on that are keeping me overly occupied. That's a good thing and will hopefully mean that I get to keep this kick ass job a little longer.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Support a friend and a cause.

Jonathan Maus, formerly of Just Riding Along (but now of Bike Portland), needs a little help to get to Washington, DC for the National Bike Summit.

Now, I get asked to post requests for charitable goals and missions all the time, but Jon is doing some really great things for the cycling community in Portland and his efforts are worth supporting. Although he is largely a Portland figure, his efforts and ideas can be used in many locations and therefore I feel they are worth supporting by folks who aren't even in the Portland area.

Portland is lucky to have such an advocate and I hope that Jon gets to DC and we all get to read about it.

Good luck to Jonathan!


A&F/ Inferno photo essay; Training Camp #1

Here is a brief photo essay of the A&F/ Inferno team at their first training camp of the year in Georgia. Stories from the team to follow soon, but I couldn't resist the chance to unveil the new team kits and the pictures of the team.

To say the very least, I'm really excited about this coming race season...

That's a good lookin' group there. Nice clothes and nice bikes...

An imposing bunch aren't they. I'm running out of fingers trying to count the number of future race wins in that group.

Meet Jim Baldesare- 2002 Elite Men's National Criterium Champion.

Now meet Todd Shaker- lookin' lean and mean!

Three guys, four bikes, one question...

I think Big Red (Hekman) is giving the international signal for "Gee Boss, I love riding in the rain in January!"

I wish I could figure out who the tire and tube sponsor is.

Kind of makes you wonder just how much rain they got during camp.

I can't wait to hear the stories from this camp. It should fairly entertaining...


A&F/ Inferno rider profile; Mark Hekman

Jeez, now I have another favorite rider on A&F/ Inferno. If this guy doesn't look and sound like a fun and funny guy, then I think you just might be crazy. Mark sent me this bio and I have left it virtually unedited, just because I like his sincerity... it'll grow on you too (like a beard...).

Here is my bio--you can edit it as much as you want. Anyway here we go.
Name: Mark Hekman
DOB: 4-16-1978
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 180
Hair Color: RED
Occupation: Aspiring Bassoonist/Professional House sitter/Professional
Bicycle mechanic. Oh yeah I am also a bike racer.
Category: Cat 1
Location: Winston-Salem NC

I have been cycling my entire life, literally. I come from an extended family of cyclists. My first century was in fourth grade (nothing like 10 hours in the rain...in gym shorts) and I have ramped it up steadily since then. I started racing as a junior the summer after sixth grade and have raced every single summer. I quit once, but it was in the winter so I guess it doesn't count. I raced on a team when I was a junior, but from 1997 until last year I raced unattatched. Growing up in Michigan the racing is extremely negative and being on a team usually meant just sitting in or blocking for the entire race....I hated that, so I raced for myself and had good success at it. Last year I raced for the Savage Hill Cyling team and had the most fun and the best season ever. I found some guys that got along awesome and race even better together and I loved it. This year is going to be even better. The whole Savage Hill team is intact within AF/Inferno plus 8 other totally awesome fast as hell guys. This year is going to be AMAZING...I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Here are some of my highlights:
2001 1st Tour de Toona Cat 2 criterium
2001 3rd GC Tour de Toona Cat 2
2002 1st MI State Crit Champ Cat 1, 2
2002 3rd MI State RR Champ Cat 1, 2
2002 1st National 24 Hour RR Champion (456 miles SOLO)
2002 1st Calvins Challenge 12 hour Road Race
2003 1st Calvins Challenge 12 hour Road Race
2003 5th Four Bridges of Elgin (pro-am)
2003 5th Wendys Classic Harrison West
2004 nothing really--I think I got second in a crit somewhere--I did race
2005 15th Athens Twilight
2005 2nd Rock Hill Crit
2005 1st Showdown at Sugar Mountain
2005 1st Habitat Wake Crit
2005 1st Crossroads Classic Crit
2005 10th Elite Crit Champs
2005 2nd Michelin Classic

Tim--I didn't mean to put so many results in--I am not trying to be vain--just use which ones you want. (I get the feeling he couldn't be vain if he tried, seems too nice a guy- Ed)

Here is kind of my philosophy on riding and racing:
I LOVE riding and racing bicycles...period. I race mountiain bikes, road bike, and cross bikes. I love waking up everyday and going for a bike ride. Sometimes I feel guilty for living this way, but I get over it real quick. I hate getting caught up in the numbers of training...just shut up and ride. I think that to race succesfully all you need is the confidence and technique...i think the fitness end of it is the least important (within reason). That is easy for me to say because I have always ridden and I am 27 and have a 16 year base.

I am a Closet UltraMarathoner. I love to suffer. I spent one year trying to qualify for Boston Montreal Boston (a brevet from Boston to Montreal and back) and did, but chickened out at the last minute. I haven't done any big ultras lately, except for a few 100 mile mountain bike races on my rigid
singlespeed. Someday, though when I get older I would love to do RAAM, but for now I think I will concentrate on the hour long criterium...I hear it is hard to recover quickly from RAAM anyway--imagine that.

I am really excited about this year. It is great to be a part of a national program where we get to duke it out week after week against the best in the nation. Our team is not only the coolest team in the country, but will also be the dark horse in every national race we start. We are going to turn
more than a few heads this year. We have an awesome group of guys and some real powerhouses. I can't wait for the racing to start. I am so excited and super motivated, I might even start using a heart rate monitor....nay.

Thanks for all your support this year I am really excited about racing MASI bikes. I was thinking though.. how cool would it be if I were on a vintage steel Masi retrofitted with newer parts. I would love that. I love steel lugged bikes. Let me know if you come across a big one...I will buy it and
race on it and win on it for you. MASI ROCKS!!!!!

Do you see what I'm talking about now? By the way, Mark fails to list in his results that he finished this year ranked 5th in the nation in the USCF/ NRC criterium standings for the season. Not bad for a redheaded wookie look alike. I can't wait to see the podium pictures this year... this is gonna be good. (Oh yeah, and Mark, I'll keep my eyes open for that lugged frame...)


Masiguy exclusive interview with Dave Moulton.

Those who know what a bike nerd I am will understand my immense joy in bringing you this exclusive interview with Dave Moulton. For those who do not know who Dave is, here is a little background; he was a custom frame builder in England before coming to the US to be one of the most famous builders in Masi history. Dave later went on to build frames under the John Howard brand name and later under his own bike brand Fuso. Many of his bikes are considered to be some of the best examples of handmade craftsmanship.

Dave has been out of the cycling business for a number of years now and has been dedicating his efforts to writing, most notably the novel Prodigal Child. (I haven't read it yet, but it is now on my short list of books I will be buying.)

A short while ago, I stumbled upon Dave while doing a bit of research and commenting in a couple of bike forums. I was amazed to see his name and we ended up communicating with each other and I asked him if he would indulge me and allow me to ask him a few questions. He consented to the interview and now we find ourselves here!

I hope that you will enjoy all of this as much as I did.

Relative to Masi, what did you most enjoy about framebuilding?
What kinds of things did you learn to "hone" your skills as a builder?

Before I went to work for Masi I was a custom framebuilder, that is building one frame at a time to order. Not the most efficient way to build frames. At Masi I had the opportunity to build small batches of 5 or 10 frames all the same. I was able to stand all day and just braze frames. As with any skill it is with repetition you become better and faster at what you do. Even when I left Masi and went back to building custom frames I no longer worked on one frame from start to finish, but rather set the frame aside when it got to a certain stage, waited until I had at least 5 frames going then worked on them as a batch of frames even though they were all custom, and all different. And of course later when I opened my own shop and started producing the John Howard and later the Fuso I went back to the small batch production method of working on five frames at a time all the same.

What do you think it was that made Masi such a sought after bike?

The brand had a pedigree, Faliero Masi was a known name and many top European pros rode the bikes. Plus he always employed the best framebuilders like Mario Confente. But in the end it was consistent high quality of workmanship that built the reputation. I can only speak for when I was there, but Ted Kirkbride who later took over ownership of the company, always insisted on the highest standards and would accept nothing less.

Since you were already an accomplished builder when you left England and came to the US and worked at Masi, were there any other people at Masi that you learned anything from?

One can always learn from anyone at any time. Mainly I learned how to finish a frame by observing what people like Jim Allen, Jim Cunningham, and Bryan Baylis were doing.

How long were you involved with Fuso?
Was that a company of your own or did you work with somebody else to create the bikes?

I built Fuso frames from its inception in 1984 until I left the business in 1993. Fuso was never a company it was a brand name and trade mark registered to me. My business was always a sole proprietorship. As mentioned earlier, with skills honed at Masi I found if I could employ other people to prepare materials and constantly feed me those materials, I could braze a lot of frames. It was the brazing together of the frame that would dictate how the frame rode and handled along with the design of course. I find it satisfying to be able to point to any Fuso frame, or any of the others I built and say, “I stood there and actually brazed that frame together.”

What other builders did you admire when you were building, if any?
What builders, if any, do you think are admirable builders now?

The ones I admired back then are still around today. People like Richard Sachs and Ben Serotta. Apart from that I am too out of touch with the bike business to really know what anyone is really doing today.

Do you still speak to any of your former customers you built frames for?

I get emails all the time from people who own bikes I built in the 1970s and 1980s. Many have owned them from new and will not part with them. I probably have more contact with my former customers now than when I was actually building frames. I sold all my frames through bike dealers and had little or no contact with the individual customer. I just didn’t have the time back then, building the frames took all my time. It’s a very labor intensive business.

How many frames, on a guess, do you think you built over the years?

A realistic guess, about 6,000. I recently read a piece about a framebuilder who has been in the business a few years, claim that he had built 10,000 frames. It probably feels like 10,000 to him, but I doubt it. I was amazed when I came across my old frame number record book for custom ‘dave moulton’ frames and I actually counted them. There were only 216 custom frames built in the US between 1982 and 1986. Of course as Fuso production increased the number of custom frames decreased. I built just under 3,000 Fusos.

Now that you are out of the cycling industry, what kinds of things do you find interesting about it?

I feel that the road bike never really caught on in the US. I know it has always had its small core of enthusiasts, but I am talking of the general public. Whereas the MTB did catch on with the masses. Why? Style. Just like the popularity with the SUV. No one needs an SUV only for the style. The MTB is to the road bike what the SUV is to the compact car. And those dropped handlebars, no one wanted those. Every time I saw someone on a road bike riding with their arms straight, trying to sit as upright as they could with dropped bars and looking like a monkey humping a football. In my mind I would say, “For God’s sake bend your fucking arms.” With the MTB they designed a bike you could ride with your arms straight. Now the road bike is making a come back but the latest designs have been inherited from the MTB. Like sloping top tubes, bigger tubes, and aero rims that appear wider at least from the side view. What attracted me to the road bicycle in the first place was the fact that it appeared so fragile and yet was so strong. Reading what the younger road bike riders are saying on the various bike forums. The message I get is old school flimsy looking road bikes are for pussies. It’s all a matter of style.

As I said, I spent some time on your blog and was really impressed by your honesty and candor relative to dealing with your emotions and feelings about perfectionism.
Do you think you could ever build frames again? Do you even have the desire to? Do you feel that you've gotten over the perfectionist issue to a healthy point?

I very much doubt I will ever build frames again. The cost alone to set up a viable frameshop would not be a sound business proposition. In 1983 it cost me $30,000 to open my shop. Probably $100.000 in today’s money. I would have to build a whole lot of fames to get a return on my investment. The other thing I realized a long time ago was that with each frame I was creating a masterpiece and then selling the original. It doesn’t really matter how much money my frames will sell for in the future. I will never make another penny on any of them. Whereas in writing and publishing because of copyright laws I can keep collecting on my creation. As for perfectionism I have to constantly remind myself that I am not perfect, and neither is my work and give myself credit for doing as well as I have done.

As you said in the blog, you do not have a bike currently. Are there any bikes that you had in the past that you wish you could have again? Is there a modern bike that you would like to have?

It would be nice to own one of my custom bikes again or at least a Fuso Lux.
If I had a new bike built I would probably get Russ Denny, who was my apprentice and took over my business, to build one.

What frames or bikes are you most proud of?

The custom frame of course. And the John Howard and the Fuso Lux were nice ones.

Generic question; if you had the chance to do it again, would you become a framebuilder?

Who knows? My novel Prodigal Child is really a fictional account of what my life might have been had it taken a different turn earlier on. I had a choice of writing a biography which was somewhat interesting, but would have only appealed to a few bike enthusiasts, or write what I did and give it a wider appeal. As for my real life some of it could have been better, but some of it could have been a whole lot worse. And to quote from the book, looking back I wouldn’t change damn a thing.

Why do you think it is that small custom builders are gaining popularity in the US again?
Do you think that mass produced bikes/ frames are inherently inferior to custom frames?

These last two questions go hand in hand. Traditional lugged steel framebuilding is art. Functional art, but art none-the-less, and a good framebuilder is an artist. All true art comes from within the artist, the artist is simply the vehicle through which art appears. There is a part of me in every frame I built. You can’t define exactly what it is but people who ride the bikes tell me it is there. Like an inanimate object having life. On the other hand a welder working in a factory somewhere; one who could care less whether he welds bike frames or patio furniture as long as he gets his paycheck. You can’t tell me that these bikes are as good as one built by an individual custom builder with a passion for what he does.

I can't thank Dave enough for taking the time to answer these questions, especially since I am sure he has answered these same questions many times over since becoming a builder. I am honored to have had this "conversation" with him and to be able to share it with you.

I hope that this gives you the spark of curiosity to read more about Dave and his buike building history, as well as the incredible stories he tells.

Thank you Dave for your answers- I am very honored.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hey Masiguy, where the heck you been?

Howdy from Texas! I am currently sitting in my hotel room watching the rain come down in Houston. I was hoping to go for a ride this morning before getting on the plane and heading home, but that just ain't going to happen. I did get two great rides in while I was here and the folk here were all very inviting and friendly. Some places you go, when you're the unknown guy on a bike, you tend to ride alone with the group and nobody talks to you. Texas isn't like that and I had a great time. I even got an email from a rider on the hammerfest ride I did yesterday. The guy looked up my email from the blog site and sent me a note just to say he was sorry he hadn't introduced himself and that he wished me a safe trip home... thanks Eddy!

So let's take a few steps backwards and go through the events of the past few days...

So this is what the San Diego airport looks like at a little past 5:00 in the morning on a Thursday. Kinda empty...

There were some issues loading luggage onto the plane, since it was suspended from the ceiling and my bike case was almost too big. We managed to figure it all out and get out of the building and into the air...

It was kinda pretty flying into the sunrise...

Arizona is very brown...

Happy Masiguy arriving in Houston!

Once in town and on the ground, my Houston area sales rep Nathan Frazier drug me around to visit Bicycle World and Fitness (thanks for your time Chris) before we headed off to get our bikes for a great night time road ride through the streets and neighborhoods of downtown Houston. (Note; Bicycle World and Fitness has been open for just a little less than two years and has had to expand/ remodel twice already in that time. Awesome!) The ride meets at the locally famous West End Bicycles (the first bike shop in Texas to put on a mountain bike race many years ago). West End is a great neighborhood shop in a great neighborhood just outside of downtown. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening their is a cool ride that leaves from their parking lot. It also happens to be a very fast ride if you are not ready to rip. The group sprinted from light to light and weaved through traffic until we got out of downtown and into some of the other residential areas. The pace was always "brisk" and were it not for the stop lights causing some regrouping, I am not so sure I would have been able to stay with the group; people, do we really need to go so fast in January? We went through one really nice, very expensive neighborhood just before returning to the shop. This was, for me, the coolest part of the ride. I didn't have a headlight with me, so it was a bit dark since there were no streetlights for much of this area, but the streets were curvy, twisty and rolled up and down in very short little rises under a canopy of trees and surrounded by multi-million dollar homes. The pace was a bit "brisker" through here too, so it was a lot of fun. By this time, my legs and lungs had finally warmed up and I no longer feared getting dropped and was able to stay at the front and be a part of the action. I apologize for not taking more frequent and longer pulls, but I had no idea where we were going. Next time, I'll spend more time on the front.

Here we are back at the shop. You can only see a few folks here, but the ride had about 30-40 riders. That's a pretty good crew for this time of year and for an urban road ride. Shows the cycling community in Houston is pretty strong. On the left of the pic is Leonard, a really nice guy, and then Nathan on the right looking like he's gonna punch me for taking his picture. Nathan's a great rep and does a great job for us in Texas (and Louisiana). On the far right of the pic and sitting between the two cars is the official "Masiguy" bike...

The next day, Nathan and I went back to visit West End Bicycles when they were open. What a cool little shop. A veritable museum of cool old bikes and cruisers and a display case with really old and hard to find Campagnolo parts. They have a gorgeous Hetchins bike hanging from the wall that I really had to pull myself away from before I rubbed the paint off. This is a great shop and I highly recommend you check them out if you're in Houston.

Next up on the hit list was Bike Sport. Nathan has a soft spot for this shop, since he worked there many years ago, but this is another really cool shop that caters to high-end bikes, service and fitting. I am pretty spoiled and get to look at a lot of cool stuff in my work, but even I was slobbering over some of the things in the shop. Micky and the other guys there are great guys and I can highly recommend them as well.

Wanna buy a Masi?

The main purpose of my trip to Houston has been to support the efforts of Sun & Ski Sports and their support of the MS150 ride in Houston in April, which I will be returning to Houston to ride. The Houston MS ride is the largest in the US with a rider field that was closed to registration at 13,000 riders. That's 13 thousands... as in a whole lot of people on bikes! Sun & Ski is one of the supporting bike shops for this humongous event and put on a big sale to kick off things for the event and help people get ready to ride in April.

I got to talk to a lot of great people who will be riding the event, a lot of them riding on Masi bikes thanks to Sun & Ski. I am really excited to be coming back to visit these new friends and ride with them to help raise money to find a cure for MS. I have an aunt who is very, very dear to me who was recently diagnosed with MS. This ride will take on much greater personal significance for that reason. Not only will I be doing the ride to be with new friends, support a great retailer and their wonderful efforts, help find a cure for a horrible disease- I'll also be riding for my aunt Joan. When my mother was living in Minnesota and Iowa, Joan was my surrogate mother in San Diego. I'll be riding in April for a wonderful person.

I also got to talk to a man, whose name I didn't get, who had been in a wheelchair a few years before due to his own battle with MS. During his physical therapy to prevent the leg muscles from wasting away, he was put on an exercise bike that did the pedaling for him to keep his legs moving and get the muscle growth going. After several months of this process, the machine would pedal less and he would begin to use his muscles to do the pedaling. Eventually, the effort was all his own and now he not only is out of the wheelchair, but he is walking and riding his bike daily. He will be riding the MS150 in April too. If that is not an inspirational story and a motivator to get on your bike and ride for fun and health, then I don't know what is. He said to me, "people just don't realize how good cycling is for you." True.

The Sun & Ski sale was a big hit, from what I could see and the number of new bikes that were being sold. My congratulations to them for such a successful event.

Saturday morning, before returning to the store for the second day of the sale, I got to go on a local "fast guy" ride called the Kirkwood Loop (roughly 60+ miles and 30 or so riders). Now, those out of Houston might not know this, but Kirkwood Loop is local speak for "tongue dragging in spokes". Now, it's January and my races of importance are not until July/August and October, so I'm nowhere near "fit" or really interested in going fast. However, I still have residual base fitness and I had to use every single ounce of it to survive this ride. Yeah, training rides in San Diego are fast too, but there I know the terrain and my way around so I can ride alone if I want. I can pull the ripchord and just go home... but here in Houston I am not so lucky. Local team riders from Bike Barn had my needle buried in the red for the entire ride. Holy crap, we were going very fast for me this time of year. I sound like I'm whining, I know, but I had a great time and the ride itself was pretty cool. Houston is pretty flat, so I was able to stay alive and even get into the mix. There were several areas of straight, wide open road so I was able to take much longer pulls and be a part of the pace making. Once we stopped to get drinks and food at a gas station, I was able to put my tongue back in place and catch my breath. The only problem was that I got really darned cold and cramped up like never before in my life when we started rolling again. I was seriously trying to figure out how I was going to continue riding and how I was going to get back to the hotel and to the store. The muscles in both calves seized up into tight, twitching balls of searing pain. If it has ever happened to you, then you understand what I'm talking about. I tried stretching while pedaling and dropping my heels at the bottom of the pedal stroke to try and get the knotting to stop, but I was in a bad way. Just when I was losing hope, the front group got stopped at a busy intersection and the second group I was in was able to latch back on. The pace momentarily slowed and I finally rode myself out of the cramps. I was still in pain, but I could at least stay with the group and take a few pulls again. In the final 20 miles, my legs and mind made a full recovery and I was finally able to really ride again and was very grateful for the ride with all of the guys on the ride. Special thanks to Drew, from Sun & Ski, for picking me up at the hotel and driving me to the ride. I had a great time. To all the folks on the ride that I didn't get to talk to- thanks for a great ride.

After the ride and a shower, I was back to the store to talk to more folks. Shaking hands and kissing babies- all in a day's work as the Masiguy!

Thank you Sun & Ski, Nathan Frazier and Houston. I had a great time in your city and on your roads. I'll be back in April to ride the MS150 and I look forward to seeing all of my new friends and riding for a great and worthy cause.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh yeah, the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain for you non-Spanish types)

My blog buddy Tim Hayes (aka Super Rookie) in Chicago made me feel kind of sad today for implying that I am ignoring the Vuelta a Espana in my discussion of the Grand Tours.

First, I love the Vuelta. I feel it has always been unber valued and was really bummed when it got the shove to so late in the season. Too many pros get there too cooked to compete well after a long season and others now just use it as a way to get ready for the road World Championships. Still, there are always plenty of feisty Spanish riders willing to make the race exciting, even if it is late in the season.

Second, I'd forgotten the race route had been announced already and thought I was waiting for the route announcement... but they anounced it just over a month ago. This just proves how out of it I am these days with all that is going on in the office lately. (Sometimes it actually is work to run a bike brand.)

Anyway, I want to give equal column space to the Vuelta, since it is only fair...

From what I've read, the Vuelta is once again one of the best looking races on the calendar. Unipublic, the folks who put on the Vuelta, have once again come up with a great race route and an exciting format. For the past few years, the Vuelta has gone from longer stages to shorter and more exciting ones. The racing hasn't suffered at all. If anything, it just keeps getting better. Even if Roberto Heras did actually dope during or before the event this year, the racing was incredibly exciting and the best rider won again. Remember a couple of years ago when Aitor Gonzalez won on the final stage time trial and overtook Heras for the win? That was a compelling and intruiging race!

This year's event is starting with a team time trial! Whoa... that'll be interesting. There is a total of five mountaintop finishes and there is a stretch of four stages in the second week where the sprinters will get to shine again before hitting more steep mountains and a final crucial time trial on the next-to-last day.

At a glance, this race looks to be the most even handed of all of the GT's in 2006. Sure, the climbers will love the mountain stages, but they always do in this race- remember that Spanish riders are known for their climbing skills. However, only two stages go over 200Km, so the allrounders have a good chance.

Personally, depending on what happens at le Tour, I think Alejandro Valverde is the best rider for this event. If Iban Mayo gets out of his temperamental funk, he has a darned good chance too. Carlos Sastre will be looking to do well and that Denis Menchov guy would love to stand on the top podium without the cloud of Heras' drug scandal taking the shine off of his win.

So, Super Rookie, feel better now? I love the Vuelta. I'd rather eat paella than escargot, but I love pasta too... so hopefully this clears things up a bit.


Monday, January 16, 2006

What's going on here?

Is it possible for the UCI and the Grand Tour Organizers to get along at all? Does it even really matter? Both sides are acting like complete idiots, but I have to admit that it seems to me that the GTO's are being the bigger knobs here. The UCI's Pro Tour was not a 100% success, but it did help create some great racing this last year and I am really looking forward to Pro Tour 2006.

Anyway, there's already been too much talk about the Tour and the Giro... which of course means that it is my turn to throw around my perceived weight. As is always the case, I'm right and you're wrong... so don't come around here posting comments about your opinions. Mine are better, so there...

Giro; Climber's race? Wait a second, isn't every race with hills (lots of'em) considered on the face to be a climber's race... especially if a climber wins it? If a Simoni wins this year, then it will be a certified climber's race. However, if somebody like Savoldelli wins again, then it will be considered an all-rounder's race. By virtue of the winner, isn't the type of race decided by the type of rider who wins? Really... let's not be such idiots. If Petacchi wins, it'll be a Sprinter's race (as well as a cold day in Hell). This Giro will have a lot of great climbing going on it and the climber's will benefit from it when they are on the climbs. When on the flats, they won't benefit from the climbs nearly as much.

Here's my prediction for the Giro- the winner will be the rider who climbs the best, time trials the least poorly and stays out of trouble on the flat sprinting stages. Kinda sounds familiar doesn't it? Maybe DiLuca can pull it off this time. He's my current pick.

Tour; Ulrich or Basso? Well, I think it'll be one of them or somebody else. I'm pretty sure on this one too. Ok, so Ulrich has the most to prove after being second so many times and after getting beaten so badly by Lance the past two years. All eyes are on him to pull off the win. But wait, the past two years haven't been so good to him- 4th in '04 and 3rd in '05. Basso was 3rd in '04 and 2nd in '05. '06 would seem to point to 1st... would it not?

Ulrich keeps failing under pressure and this coming Tour is going to be crammed with more pressure than when he came back to try and win a second Tour before Lance started racking them up.
I wouldn't bet all my beer money on Der Kaiser just yet.

Basso? Well, he looks to have the best chance to capitalize on what could be Jan's biggest implosion yet. Ivan the not-so-Terrible is a lot more confident now and knows that he is the smart bet to win. He cracked a bit at the Giro last year when all the pressure was put on his slim shoulders to win. Yeah, I know he got sick, but that happens when your body is screaming "I can't handle all this stress!" I have a feeling it wasn't bad pasta the night before that did him in. Sure, surviving that stress and gritting his teeth to win two stages of the Giro before going home to complete his Tour preparation gave him the courage he needed to trust he could win a real race. Can Bjarne keep Ivan cool enough to not overheat during the race of races in July? Not just as a challenger, but as a favorite? Lance's shadow is going to still be hanging over a lot people and they are going to realize that coming out of that shadow is hard to do.

George "Pretty Boy" Hincapie as Tour winner? I doubt it. Another surprise stage win? Probably not. Too many people are going to be watching his every move, so he's not likely to get enough ground between himself and the other guys who will want to win a stage. George just isn't that explosvie- not like Vinokourov.

Vino? I'd love a glass, thanks. Vinokourov? Oh yeah, that guy... he'll probably win a stage or two, but that's about all I can see happening. Manolo and the boys just can't seem to get a real break in July when in France, so I have a hard time believing that they will this year... finally.

The winner? Probably the same kind of guy who wins in Italy, but not the same guy. I do think we'll see some great racing though.

There's more to come, don't worry. The Sprinters and Climbers aren't off the hook yet.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Panther City Bicycles

It's no secret that Bernie (owner) and Jason over at Panther City Bicyles are a couple of my favorite bike guys and Panther is one of my favorite shops to work with. These guys are exceptionally nice and have a gorgeous shop worth visiting. So, if you're in the Ft. Worth Texas area, you need to put these guys and this shop on your list. Endorsed by the Masiguy.

Check out the sweet wheels... kind of proves they are worth giving your money to.

That's Jason's personal steed hanging upside down in the upper right corner.
This vintage beauty is some kind of pretty... ain't it...

What a cool looking shop. Kind of like an art gallery. The kind of art gallery that would have art exhibits of photographs taken by local photographic artists in the Ft. Worth area. The kind of shop that might even have monthly art displays. Doesn't that sound like a cool shop? (No pressure Bernie...)


A&F/ Inferno rider profile; Shawn Adams

Shawn here is likely to write the American equivalent of War and Peace. As you will soon see, he's really quite the talker. Fortunately, I hear that he's a pretty fast rider and his legs do the talking for him.

Shawn Adams
165 lbs

I started racing motocross when I was fourteen in Danville Ohio, that was the start of my two wheel addiction. After motocross I discovered mountain biking when I was in college. I was soon hooked and started racing after I graduated from The University of Akron. I worked as a mountain bike guide in West Virginia while I was in graduate school at Slippery Rock University.

My career as a firefighter started next in Akron Ohio. This is when the two wheel addiction really took hold and I started training seriously, and began road racing. Four years later I am on Abercrombie & Fitch presented by Inferno Racing.

We're done now.

I hope that you'll come back to visit and see if Shawn has more to say later. I think he might be kind of like one of those people who keeps it stored up for a long time and then uncorks a long monologue when you least expect it. I'm gonna keep my eye on him and get back to you.

(Shawn just informed me of an excellent interview of him on his old team's website. It's a great read...)


Friday, January 13, 2006

A&F rider profile; Tim Swain

I'm not really sure how I feel about the fact that this fine young man was born when I started getting into racing. B-O-R-N... I'm pretty much speechless, so I'll let the little fella do the talking now.

Tim Swain
Currently Attending: The Ohio State University
Major: Financial Planning

I’ve been involved in sports since I was a child. I played soccer, football and basketball up until junior year of high school. The high school cross country/track coach convinced me to join the team and I decided to start swimming during the winter. I ended up doing alright in both these sports specializing in the 1 mile and 800m in track and 100 free and 100 breaststroke in swimming. My best result ever in high school was at the regional track meet when I ran a 4:25 mile.

After high school I attended Loyola University of Chicago. I decided running was not what I wanted to do anymore and started riding my bike on the lakeshore path for exercise. The next thing I knew I was on the Loyola Cycling team and riding on local club rides with the Higher Gear boys. I learned a lot about cycling during my two years in Chicago and decided that I wanted to take it more seriously. I transferred to Miami University of Ohio my sophomore year. My stay at Miami University of Ohio was short lived, but I did meet one dashing young man by the name of RYAN GAMM (teammate- Ed) during my short visit. I quickly transferred to the Ohio State University, where I have happily been studying Financial Planning and this is where I met alumni RYAN RISH (teammate- Ed) and MARK HEKMAN (teammate- Ed).

I have competitively ridden in collegiate racing for 4 years and 3 years as an amateur. I have had many great races and many tough races and a few stitches in the process. I would say my greatest achievements to date include, placing 15th at The Four Bridges of Elign Espoir race(as a Cat 3), 4th Overall in the Cat 2 Altoona Points race and doing the PRO AM, CAT 2 and CAT 1 race at Downers Grove this past season. I am really excited about this upcoming season and really really looking forward to rock’n the MASI bikes in the domestic peloton.

Well, he certainly knows how to finish strong (always good to compliment the sponsors...). I'm still reeling over the fact he was born when I got started in the sport. I'M NOT OLD PEOPLE! Well, older than most of the riders on the team, but they are still ok with me.

6'3" is a good start though. I think we'll keep him.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

I almost forgot...

My wife is quite possibly one of the funniest people in the entire world. No, really. She cracks me up all the time, sometimes when she's trying to.

Our son was sick the past few days, but returned to school today where he could finally escape the drudgery and misery of being confined to only being around my wife and I. The boredom was beginning to make him talk to himself a bit more than usual... it was creepy.

Anyway, I emailed my wife at work and asked her how he was doing and feeling going back to school. Here's her report;

I don’t know if Drew got far enough away this morning before everybody (and I do mean everybody) saw me back up over an orange cone and then drag it down the street trapped under my bumper before unceremonially dumping it in the middle of the street. I had to make a very slow stupid looking u-turn again in front of the entire middle school to come back and remove it from the middle of the street. It was classic. Bye bye baby, mommy loves you!

Our son is 13 now, so you can see why and how we are a constant dirty smudge on his "cool"...

God, I love her!


A&F/ Inferno rider profile; Rich Harper

Folks, I don't know where to start with this one. I'll just let Rich speak for himself and I apologize now to anybody reading this without a sense of humor. (I think I might like this kid...)

Rich Harper

age: 29

weight: 173
height 6'0" (not sure why Shaker is considered the Big Boy as I am an inch shorter (not where it counts though) and basically the same weight)
Jobby Job: GlaxoSmithKline, assoc scientist Gene Expression, Protein Biochemistry (Say what- Ed)
Goals and aspitrations: land that sugar momma, and compare notes with stage racing sensation Phil "Scabs" Wikoff.
Previous Team: Cane Creek
Cat 1

(Check out them bottle knockers... thems calves... Ed)
I live in Raleigh, NC and have been here since 2000 after graduating from University of Florida.

Was a competitive runner for 11 yrs. I got bored of running (ie plateau'd and couldnt get off it plus my stack of commemorative running T-shirts was a real PITA to move) when I moved to NC and tried cycling.

I had won numerous triathlons in FL and always rode mtn bikes and did the Team Florida group rides, so it was an easy transition. This is my 6th season racing and I think I am good enough to keep on racing.

(Now that looks like
Gene Expression to me... Ed)

Dislikes: Going up hill, training and riding my bike for more than 2 hrs. And, oh yeah, going up hill, cold weather, little chainring riding, people with focused training plans, cyclists that have nothing else going on in their lives besides riding (oh you know who you are!). Tub girl, squid, or bottle man (nuff said about that).

Likes: sitting on the couch drinking beer. Spending money on frivolous stuff (gonna rob a jewelry store and get me a grill). Occasionally bike racing. Driving teammates crazy.

Best result: Once doing a 5.5 hr ride. It was crazy being on a bike that long.

Season goals: Ride 3000 miles this year and maybe beat some pros in a bike race or two.

Favorite Quote: Diamonds, She'll pretty much have to.


Now, you can't say I didn't warn you first. Is it me, or did it just get funny in here?


(Sorry for the weird formatting issues...)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Another late night ramble...

Why am I awake and sitting in front of my laptop just before 11:00PM? Call it dedication, call it stupidity, call it devotion... I call it insomnia (with hints of stupidity thrown in for fun).

There has been a lot going on in the industry and sport these past few weeks. I haven't had the chance to spend much time talking about much of anything just because I have been so busy. I dodn't remember last year at this time being quite so crazy. Then again, last year I was still "the new guy" and they were afraid to let me use scissors or the electric stapler. Still, I swear this year is more full of things to do... and so much more remains to be done.

Next week I will be visiting Houston, Texas (more details to follow). If you're in Houston and want to meet the Masiguy, well this is your chance. I get in to town Thursday and I have been told there is a great night ride in the city, so I am planning to pull my bike out of the case and get it built in time to do the ride and stretch the legs after a day of flying and airports. Can't wait to see you Houstonians! (If you know of any good Sunday morning training/ group rides let me know because my flight home doesn't leave until late afternoon.)

I have to admit that when I read that Saunier-Duval was going to be training in San Diego this winter, with David Millar, I had an uncomfortable laugh to myself. As you may recall, I kind of singled him out for a touch of ridicule over his doping offense. I kind of doubt he's going to come looking for me and try to settle the score, but then again you never know. How cool would that be?

I had a few other witty comments, but now I'm finally feeling a little sleepy so I'm heading off to bed.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A&F/ Inferno rider profile; Andy Applegate (A2)

Here's another guy that I am going to have a lot of fun reading about this year. Why? Well, from what I hear, he's a natural born ass-whooper! Also, he's the least young guy on the team and still makes the kiddies cry when he lights it up. Now that's what I'm talkin'bout!

Andy Applegate

I discovered cycling while I was a musician living in Philadelphia sometime around 1990. Needless to say I was hooked, and following my first mountain bike race I became downright obsessed. After working as a bike messenger in Philly for 2 years and racing the mid Atlantic MTB circuit, I quit the music business altogether, and moved to Boulder, CO in an attempt to ride full time. I gained a lot of experience and followed the national series for a couple of years, but I never really made it and moved back east in 1996. While living in New Jersey I raced the big New England MTB events as well as the New England and Mid Atlantic 'Cross Series. I had done some racing on the road at big events like the Iron Horse Classic and Killington Stage Race, but it wasn't until the end of '98 that I really discovered the intricacies of the sport and the fact that I had a knack for it.

Now things really started to get interesting. In 1999, my first full season as an elite "roadie", I won both the coveted Garden State Cup and NJ time trial series. Hmmm maybe I was on to something. Unfortunately by this time I was already way past over the hill for a road cyclist. In 2001, after a 6 week trip to Southwest France to spend time with my wife to be (and ride my butt off), I moved to the mountains of Asheville, NC. The move enabled me to renew my commitment to the sport and helped me to net my first Pro-Am over-all stage race win, several big road race wins, and the 2001 Master's National Road Race Championship (Spokane, WA).

Fast forward to today and I have a few more national championship medals for 'cross and TT (no other jerseys yet though) and a very successful coaching business (
www.a2coaching.com ).
I am extremely excited about the team this year. I think we have a great mix of riders. It is a pleasure to work with Chad, who labors tirelessly, and cares for the team riders more than any other director I know of. As the resident old guy I have to endure all the "Viagra" jokes at training camp... but don't write me off just yet.

DOB 1/14/66 (don't laugh!)
I go about 143lbs
I can climb ok, TT well, I like to be in the "all day break" or ride on the front for the other guys.

2005 race result highlights:
Bronze medal US Master's National TT
Winner Iron Cross III
Winner River Gorge Mountain Road Race, Chattanooga, TN
Winner Dahlonega (Georgia Cup Series) RR, TT, Omnium
4th USGP Cyclo-cross Series (masters)
Winner NC State TT (35+)

Career highlights:
2001 Master's national road race champion (Yeah Baby- Ed)
Three time bronze medalist Master's National TT
Two time silver medalist Master's National cyclo-cross championships

Winner Tour de Doughnut (no kidding!)

You can also read about Andy "Mankiller" Applegate on his training blog. I read it and got sympathetic fatigue- I'm glad he's not my coach because my doughy arse would be in serious trouble.


The CD is back!

I was pretty much busting at the seams yesterday to spread this little bit of news after I got a mysterious call from an unidentified source, but "the CD" (aka Chris DiStefano) is back in the bike industry after a couple years out in the other non-bike world. I was sworn to secrecy, or I would have my legs broken- according to the scratchy voiced caller...

I spoke with Chris for a little while yesterday and he claimed that I was "the first" person he was calling and talking to- outside of real media of course- about his return. Chris is somebody I consider to be a friend and we have been in semi-regular contact over the past year or so. He's a great guy and did great work when he was with Shimano as well. He always hinted at missing the bike industry a little more than he thought he would. Now he's back and in a role that means we have a legitimate reason to talk to each other.

Chris is now with Chris King as something of the Head Ombudsman and Chief Spreader of Propaganda. You'll definitely be hearing a lot more about Chris King products in the very near future. You can pretty much plan on reading about NASA using King bearings on landing gear or NASCAR drivers building spoked wheels with King hubs. It's gonna get kinda crazy.

CD; here's to you buddy! Welcome back to the fold- it's gonna be a good ride!


Sunday, January 08, 2006

A&F/ Inferno rider profile; Jeremy Grimm

Meet Jeremy Grimm. Jeremy is another one of the Big Boys on the team, going about 195 pounds. Ah yes, another meat grinder like me. I have a feeling these guys are gonna' have no problem muscling their way through a crit.

The bio below is a rather short one, but this link will take you to an excellent interview with Jeremy that was done for the website of Stark Velo, a club Jeremy was close to (he raced for Savage Hill).

From Big Wheels to Masi Bikes! My Dad and Mom started me on a big wheel before I could walk. That created my Thunder Thighs. Trying to keep up with George Hincapie may have helped me too. Everyone else thinks it's because I eat too much. They may be right, that's why they call me "Cookie Monster."

I was six years old when I did my first bike race. I stopped racing six years later, but racing has stayed in my heart through the years. I had Lyme Disease for four years and I thank God for giving me another chance to Save one more for Jesus!
I have been healed now for eleven years. I am thirty, married to a wonderful wife and we have been blessed with the best daughter. We live close to the Amish, in the small town of Orrville. I have very loving parents and two younger brothers. Dad got me back on the bike when I was two hundred and eighty pounds just four years ago. In that time span I have realized the more races I do, the better I get. This year will be my best, thanks to all the sponsors. Abercrombie & Fitch/Inferno Cycling Team, 2006 In The Mix!


As you can see, Jeremy is a man of deep faith and also a fortunate survivor of Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is frequently misdiagnosed and many sufferers go years before the correct diagnosis is made, just like Jeremy. One of Jeremy's biggest goals now, outside of winning bike races, is to help spread the word about Lyme Disease. A rather noble cause for a humble bike racer and one I hope proves to be successful... like a winning break.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

A&F/ Inferno rider profile; Malachi Reid Peacock

This little fella looks like he's still too young to buy cigarettes, let alone a beer at the local Quickie Mart. However, he's got the guns to get'r done!

Malachi Reid Peacock

Athens, GA 30605
Age: 24 Height: 5’8” Weight: 154 lbs.
Hometown: Decatur, GA
Nickname: “the fat kid”

Years Riding: 4
Category: 1

Accomplishments: 6th 2005 Collegiate National Championship Criterium, D-1
15th 2005 Collegiate Nat. Championship Overall Omnium
29th 2004 Univest Grand Prix, UCI 1.6
2nd 2003 South Eastern Collegiate Cycling Overall Competition

My cycling career began in 2001 when I trained for a century and fundraised over $5,000 for the Leukemia Society. I transferred to the University of Georgia in 2002, and Jered Gruber (teammate- Ed) and I started our cycling careers together—racing as Category C (Cat. 5’s) for UGA. In general, we were out riding our bikes in spandex while the UGA fans were wearing red pants, barking, and hollering “Go Dawgs!” I have been given numerous opportunities throughout my cycling career, traveled around the states, and met a lot of great friends. I am excited about the 2006 season, our Masi and Abercrombie & Fitch sponsorships, and the chance to win with a great team!

Coming back from the Vanderbilt collegiate race last season, our teammate Daryl, Jered, the lovely Jamila, and myself were rolling down 75-S in Daryl’s Tahoe. I decided to get a flavor of the south and take a dip (of smokeless tobacco-Ed) with Daryl, and it did not take too much prodding to pressure Jered into the fun. We were only about 30 minutes from home, but real quickly Jered was on the fast track to turning green and being sick. He was like a fish in dirty water—window cracked gulping for fresh air. We made it home without Jered throwing up, but there are pictures on jeredgruber.com if you are interested!

I have to admit that reading about these kids and there collegiate racing in the South makes me a little homesick. Go Dawgs! Sorry, that just slipped out. I should be yelling "Roll Tide!"... but I digress. As long as these Dawgs never beat a Bama boy in a sprint during their collegiate careers, things will be just fine. Well, I might find it in me to forgive them anyway.

Side note; my wife and I were both reading over these profiles and looking at the pictures of the younger riders on this team and were marveling at their "sweet faces" (my wife said that). This is a damned cute team, I have to admit. I smell an Abercrombie & Fitch calendar in the making...


Friday, January 06, 2006

A real post; it's been a while.

I know that for the past several weeks, the real meaty posts have been kind of missing around here. I have to admit that the "real job" part of the job has been getting the better of me. I won't bore you with all the details, but I'll give you a little peek at things...

As you have read me say in the past, I really don't like the use of model years and we are trying to get away from using them altogether, but for lack of a better label I will say that the bulk of my time has been eaten up with developing bikes for 2007. We're in 2006 now, so I don't really have to worry about those bikes, outside of trying to sell them (wanna buy a bike?). There isn't much I can do about those bikes now- they have to sink or swim on their own merits now. Although, I am still working on getting the new website built. Hopefully that will be done fairly soon. The next series of products though, those are in full development. Right now, the "core" of the line is done and just needs to have spec finalized and the colors/ graphics completed and we are rolling full steam ahead on those items. The new additions to the product range are still going through development and that takes a ton of effort. Masi basically consists of me and our Senior Product Development Manager. He and I work in tandem, though not on a tandem, to come up with what we hope will be the bikes you will all buy. Admitedly, we have a darned good idea of what these bikes will be before we even get to this point, but now is the crunch time as we try to finalize things in time to get the products rolling into production or samples made for testing. For example, the track racing frame that I raced this past season is going into production (you're going to love it) and I am working on getting a couple of the frames ready for testing by a few riders I am working with (names withheld to protect the innocent). I am pretty confident they will like the ride of the frames, but I still have to get the bikes under them so they can offer feedback. Feedback is a big part of making bikes. Next is the tri/TT bike. Development is close to being done, on paper, then we go to the sample frames to test. I'm really thrilled about this too because I'm really a bike geek and these things really get me excited. Plus, I need to get the guys on A&F/Inferno riding these frames this year so I can get that Pro feedback- it's a bit different than my feedback. So there is a lot going on with product, a lot more than I mention here.

As a Brand Manager, I also have internal functions that are not unlike a Sales Manager. That means that I work with our inside sales folks, our outside sales reps and then the retailers and even consumers (though usually only through the blog here or the company website- I get all the web inquiries). This puts me in a really busy spot, but a cool one too. I mean, think about it; I get to work with our own folks who are a bit of a captive audience, the sales reps who have other products and product/ sales managers that require their time, the retailers who put the bikes on the sales floor and try to sell them and then finally the people who actually open their wallets and buy the bikes. To my knowledge, there aren't a lot of positions where you get to do that. I feel like I have a pretty unique position. My task is to get all of these various folks to understand why my bikes are worth buying. Sometimes that means arguing with people who would prefer to see me hung up by my toenails for trying to do my job... but I won't re-hash that struggle now. Honestly, not really considering myself to be a real "sales person", I like getting to try and sell these bikes.

Now let's talk about the excitement of the new team. I'm excited about these guys, if you couldn't already tell. It's a lot of work though, even as just the frame sponsor. Making sure that things happen, working on schedules, writing press releases (I write all of my own releases), talking to other sponsors to develop potential cross-marketing options and then interacting with the team director (who is very easy to work with and a great guy, so I'm not complaining). It's a lot of coordination and effort though, but I love it because I know what it's like to be a team rider and how hard the sport is. I love the sport and I am very happy to get to be a part of it like this now. Abercrombie & Fitch is an incredible company with some phenomenal marketing power, so I am really hoping to get to work with them to some extent- well, any extent I can.

Travel is going to be a bigger part of things soon too. First up is Texas this month, next month is still open, March is the Midwest (St. Louis), April is Texas again, and then the following months are being planned now. I intend to get to a few of the events that the team will be racing in as well as trying to do some racing myself. Sea Otter is looking like a possibility, though I am not sure I'll be racing and will likely be working and maybe helping the team too.

There are a lot of other little things that aren't really worth discussing, simply because they are just the usual little things that are part of every job. Answering the phone just as you're heading to lunch (or a ride) and not getting off the phone for another hour- that kind of stuff.

Throw blogging into all of this and you have a lot things that make up a day. Oh yeah and trolling the internet looking for references to Masi, seeing what is happening with competitors, reading forum discussions, developing marketing/ advertising ideas, staying caught up on current news, events and what-not in cycling and the industry... and trying to spend a couple of hours awake with the family before getting up in the morning and doing it again.

Wow, I really sound like I'm whining here... but I swear I'm not. I love my job and that is part of what gives me the energy and incentive to be doing this at 11:00PM at night, showing you what I've been "up to" recently. It's a worthy struggle to me. I hope it proves to be worth it to you too.


Friday Funny

This comes courtesy of my best friend and fellow Masi nerd Jim.

I thought I was going to pee myself when I saw this...

Sweet Jeebus that's funny!


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Important history lesson;

1937 - At a party at the Hormel Mansion in Minnesota, a guest won $100 for naming a new canned meat -- Spam.

Ummm... Spam...


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A&F/ Inferno rider profile; Todd Shaker

Now we're getting somewhere! Next up on the madcap cavalcade of rider profiles is Todd Shaker. As you'll see, Todd is a little atypical for a cyclist- he's big. Some might even call him meaty. As a track and crit sprinter myself, it does my heart good to see another "Big Boy" in the peloton!

Born 2-26-75 height 6'1,weight 175

Raced as a junior @ a national level from age 15 to 18 then stopped racing after a bad crash. Got into body building for about 8 years and blew up to around 235 lbs (That's what I'm talking about- Ed).

In the spring of 04, bought a spinning bike to get cut for an upcoming body building show. To help pass the time I also bought a DVD of the 03 Tour, was bitten by the bike bug again in a big way!! In May of 04 I bought a road bike and within a few weeks was racing again, but only for fun. One thing lead to another and by Aug. 04 I had won a few Cat 2-3 races.

That winter I really tried to train hard & smart, had a few good wins in the first few months of the 05 season. Within a year of the purchase of my 1st road bike in ten years I had my Cat 1 upgrade. The season was mostly one of learning and getting used to racing in the Pro 1,2 fields. Entered the state TT and without any specific training or aero gear, averaged over 28mph over 21 miles, but lost the Cat 1 title by 2 seconds to a national level rider. All in all I had about 10 wins in 05 and finished in the top 10 in almost all of the rest of my races.

Very much looking forward to this upcoming season, we have a great team and sponsors. I feel like I learn something new in every race and that is often the difference between the win and just another top 10 placing.
Thank You

See, I knew there was a reason why I decided to work with this team; they have a big guy! As a big guy, I like to see big guys racing bikes. (Magnus Backstedt makes my heart skip a beat.) I mean, in less than 2 years he goes from not riding, to racing and getting his Cat 1 license. I'm no genius, but whoa! Plus, when it comes time to pick teams at the post race Bar Fight at the US Pro Championship, guess who I'm picking...


Another funny read.

You can call it writer's block if you want, or simply accuse me of having nothing relevant of my own to say, but this is danged funny!


Here's an entertaining read.

I came across this article this morning and thought it was a well written and entertaining read. Certainly worth reading, if you haven't already.

It raises some great questions that could prove to be a lot of fun to watch unfold this year.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A&F/ Inferno rider profile; Ryan Gamm

Our next rider profile is Ryan Gamm. All of 24 years old and another little speed demon. Between racing, training and being a Ladies Man, he is working on becoming getting an "ed-ja-ma-kayshun". Expect to see more of this kid's name between race results and the GQ ads.

Ryan Gamm, 24, 5-7 140 lbs of Furry, Green Eyes.

Born: Cleveland Ohio, Currently (well by the time you get this) Oxford Ohio going after a Masters in Education, so I can yell at kids in a socially appropriate environment, er ah, I mean teach kids.

I started racing mountain bikes when I was 17 after a few years of BMX. At 19 I switched to Road Bikes and cut my teeth in the Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference while training in the mountains of Boone North Carolina where I was attending Appalachian State and even went to classes on rainy/snowy days.

By 20 I had transferred to Miami University and upgraded to a Cat 1, during 2003 I had a bout with Chronic Fatigue and Mono, by the end of the season I hung up my wheels for good, well until I had a chance meeting with fate. By fate I mean Tim Swain (Teammate- Ed), who convinced me to give racing another go and offered me a spot racing for Savage Hill.

I spent fall of 04 studying in Luxembourg and backpacking around Europe, Oktoberfest and Sweden were my favorites, from what I can remember. I also spent 3 weeks studying tropical plants on Andros Island in the Bahamas.

Funniest experience on a bike: I was attacked by a turkey, no joke.

I bake the best damn Chocolate Chip Cookies in the world. I used to be a fat kid, I could go back at any moment.

Nicknames, Gambo, Gammer the Hammer, 'The Game', Gamm, College, etc

In Dec 04 I graduated from Miami University of Ohio with BA in Geography and Environmental Science, I plan to do nothing with it.

I drove overnight once from College Station Texas to Cleveland Ohio so I could make it back in time for a 4th of July party.

My strenghts on the bike include climbing, sprinting if its been a hard race, mind control, and fitting through tight spaces in a field.

I have a mild obsession with Argile Socks.

I once organized a Pub Crawl after the Tour de France, the 'Tour de Beers' there were no finishers, but I did win stage one and held the Yellow Jersey until the TTT...people at Miami still Talk about the TDB!

Dislikes: mean people, tall women, boring weekends, jean shorts, growing up, and fat free anything.

Best Results, 11th Stage 2 Tour de Toona 04, 11th Murrysville 04, 6th Stage 8 Tour of Ohio 04, 10th GC tour of Ohio 05, 23 Elite Cits Natz 05, 1st Tour of Richland County 04, 1st Renissance Crit 05, 1st Yellow Springs GP 04. 3rd Overall Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Confernce, Ohio State Crit Championships Twice the Bronze Medalist.

Thats all I got, cheers.

Doesn't he put the pretty in Pretty Boy? (They tell me he's smart too ladies. Now, does he cook and do windows?)


And the winner is...

Tim Grahl, over at Blue Collar MTB and the Crooked Cog Network, is the winner of the socks and water bottle after correctly answering last night's quiz question;

Name the band, the song and the album and win a pair of Masi socks and a Masi water bottle. Here's the lyric;"Bring on the special guest- a monkey caught stealing..."

Tim correctly answered the song Ahead by Wire, off of the album Ideal Copy. One of my favorite ever albums. I don't know if he Googled the lyrics or not, but he claimed the prize. Hey, the guy's about to have a baby (well, actually his wife is going to be the one having the baby), so it can serve as a baby shower gift at the same time.

Congrats Tim- on the answer and the baby as well.


Monday, January 02, 2006

Win a pair of socks and water bottle!

Ok, listening to one of my all time favorite albums from one of my all time favorite bands and decided to let you profit from me "rockin' out".

Name the band, the song and the album and win a pair of Masi socks and a Masi water bottle. Here's the lyric;
"Bring on the special guest- a monkey caught stealing..."

So... good luck!


Sunday, January 01, 2006

First ride of 2006!

This year, my first ride of the new year was not with any of my teammates or any of my other cycling friends, but was with my daughter.

She's not even slightly a ham, not even a little.

We rode along the coast on the bike path connecting Coronado to Imperial Beach. It was a bit windy out there on the way south... really windy actually. Once we got to our southern destination, we stopped in to say hello to my in-laws so my daughter could tell them all about her bike ride and how much fun she was having telling Daddy what to do. Oh yeah, and how much she liked her cookies she was eating in the trailer. Before I started cramping, we got back on the road heading north and then we had a kickass tailwind. We were flying along and caught 5 guys from one of the local clubs and blew right by them! Once you get 70-75 pounds of trailer and squealing child rolling along, you get some pretty good momentum. The best part, and I really wish I could've gotten a picture of it, was that the 5 of them sat in behind us the whole way back into Coronado. My daughter and I were the head of a paceline! How cool is that? I have to admit that as we caught and passed more people, I was feeling pretty happy with myself; towing a trailer and a group of riders hiding from the wind. It must have looked pretty funny to people driving by.

Sometimes it's great to be Daddy. She sat in the trailer squealing and giggling the whole time, periodically yelling for me to "go faster". It's great training towing a trailer and child around, but more importantly, it's just great to have the time with my daughter like this when she is happy and laughing.

It's great to be Daddy.