Because I am lucky enough to know some very smart people (who also happen to be very nice), I sometimes get asked to do a few cool things from time to time... like this... give it a listen. The Spokesmen Podcast is a groupdof bike industry goofballs like myself who get together around a virtual table and discuss some stuff about bikes. It's pretty cool... at the time of the conversation, Carlton was in the UK, Tim was on the East Coast and David and I were in California. It was really cool and I was very happy to be able to participate and am looking forward to the next one- that's for sure.
This was another one of those weird/ good/ busy weeks... as many of them are lately.
Wednesday saw the visit of Rik Wilks from Easton. This was the first time I've met Rik and I have to say he's a cool, nice, funny guy. Let me also say that Easton has some cool new stuff coming... really cool stuff. I don't know if this means we'll be using any of the products, but I believe in never saying never. Such cool stuff... plus their carbon engineer, John McGuire , is a racing buddy of mine. He's a super great guy- you may have read some of his articles in recent issues of ROAD. Anyway, Easton makes cool stuff- even if I don't currently spec any of it on my bikes. Go buy some, just because... Rik did mention a new frame tubing. He didn't say what it was, other than it was "new" and "cool". I, for one, am curious. (I also have a new set of handlebars to ride with now... more on that in another post.)
Thursday saw the visit of my good friend Kendall Young from Ritchey. I've been talking to Kendall now for what seems like a very long time, but has really only been about a year and a half. Kendall and I are cut largely from the same cloth, so we get along very well. Top that off with the fact that Ritchey makes some really kickass stuff and you have a great day (plus Kendall took us to lunch for sushi). Speaking of "cool new stuff"... Ritchey has some great stuff coming too. Word to the wise; if you ever see a set of the WCS Evolution handlebars- buy them.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been riding the SRAM Rival parts this week.
Yes, I notice the irony that I am still riding my Shimano pedals on a SRAM bike... but they are my favorite pedals. I will keep upadting as I have the chance to keep riding and testing the parts. The real test going on is the frame the parts are bolted to. All I can say is; carbon, good ride, not uber expensive, unidirectional carbon (no cosmetic outer weave), not noodly. That's all I can divulge for now. Oh and 60cm bike, with Rival group, heavy wheels, carbon fork with alloy steerer and alloy bar and stem- 17.51lbs... not bad at all. With a little effort, not much at all really, you could get it to 16. More later...
I hope to have some more news soon regarding the possible development of a women's bike program. I hesitate to even call it Women's Specific because there is so much out there that says "women's specific" that really is kind of... well... crap. I won't say any more until I have something more really substantive to say. It'll be cool and a lot of fun- that much I know.
Tomorrow/ Saturday is my son's 14th birthday... 14th! Crap! I am very proud of the young man he has become. Smart, witty, good hearted- he's a great kid and we're lucky to be his parents. Happy Birthday Son!
It's been a number of days since my last "real" post. It's been busy around the office and in life, so the posting has been pretty lilght. Well, I don't know when that is going to change significantly, but I'm going to do my best to keep the content worthwhile. Please bear with me and as always, thank you for your patience and loyalty.
So this week I have been riding a prototype carbon frame (can't tell you more than that yet) that I built up with a SRAM Rival group. Rival is SRAM's Ultegra level group. I'll try to get some pictures to post up here soon. Anyway, it's been my first chance to spend some quality time with the SRAM stuff. As you may have already seen on the company website, we are spec'ing the Rival group on the new Gran Criterium. Until this week though, I hadn't spent any real time on the stuff. Now I am getting a much better feel for the product and can give a little more thorough feedback.
Set up/ installation- As we all know, I'm a mediocre (crappy) mechanic at best. That said, the parts bolt on easy and are equally easy to adjust. No different from the Shimano or Campy groups. Since the cable routing of the shifter cable is a little more complex/ unique, SRAM ships the cable already installed into the shifters. You still have to run the housing and the brake cables and housing, but it is a nice touch. I hate to say it (for Shimano's sake), but the SRAM chains assemble really well with the Power Link chain link. I like the link better than the Shimano pins, just because from a home mechanic view, it's harder to screw up. Otherwise, assembly is no different than with other groups.
Brakes- The power and cosmetics of the brake calipers is really wonderful. The brake calipers are just beautiful and the braking power of the Rival caliper is on par with Dura Ace. I don't know if it is the pad compund or the calipers, but the braking is great. I am going to pull the pads out and put them on some different calipers and see what happens. Outside of that, they are brakes. Not too much else to say- though again, they are very pretty.
Crankset and bottom bracket- Very pretty stuff. It's clear that cosmetics were important to SRAM when they designed the group. The crankset is really beautiful with a nice polished look to the arms and a satin finish to the rings. The BB installed with no problems, but the bearings just feel a little tight. I'm told it is the seals and that they will break in, but the crankset will barely spin more than a few revolutions- even if you don't tighten the crankarms down all the way. I'll be watching this...
Front derailleur- The front derailleur is also very attractive. It's got easy to use adjuster screws and the cable mounts easily and securely.
Rear derailleur- I love the rear derailleur. The cable routes in a unique way (you'll have to trust me until I can get a picture) that gives great cable pull. It's a good looking piece too. My only quibble was with the feel of the derailleur before it is mounted and cabled up- it has some looseness or play in it that makes it feel a little "cheap". So far, this has meant nothing for performance of the thing, it was just something I noticed when setting it up.
Cassette- It's got gears and mounts to the wheel. What else can you really say? Other than the look of the Open Glide cogs, they look like any other cassette. The Open Glide is what looks like a missing tooth from the cassette. This is designed to create a gateway for the chain to move up or down the cassette more rapidly... and it seems to work.
Chain- As I mnetioned, the chain is nice. It feels sturdy and stiff, even with the hollow connector pins. Being a big lard ass sprinter, I've gone through lots of chains in my time. I can usually tell when a chain isn't going to last too long. This chain feels robust and solid. That's a great first impression to me.
Shifters- This is the heart and soul of the group of course. The whole story is about the leapfrogging mechanism that accomplishes both the up and down shifts with one shifting paddle. The other story of the shifters, for me, is the shifter body and hoods. I have some big, long hands. The SRAM shifter, with the way it is shaped and the way it is supposed to be mounted on the bar, provides a perfect place for my hands to rest. When mounted as suggested, the bar top blends smoothly into the shifter, creating one really big perch for my big hands. The shifter paddle has a nice big... paddle for you to poke at. Since it moves independently of the brake lever, you can pull it against the bar and not worry about the brake lever. I end up holding it against the bar so I can down shift when sprinting or accelerating on the flats. It's pretty cool how easy it is. My only negative comment about the shifters is the look of the shifter where the lever and body meet (trust me until I get you a picture). Something about it seems "clunky" compared to Campy or Shimano. It's a tiny little thing and really doesn't mean anything, but for some folks it might mean something.
Performance on the road- Well, I've been talking about this group for close to a year or more I guess. You'd think I'd pee myself when I finally got to ride with the stuff. Well, I came close. The rear shifting is incredibly smooth. Going up or down the cassette is flawless. The rear derailleur adjusts easily and shifts very smoothly with the 1 to 1 ratio. Shifting up the cog set requires the longer throw of the lever, which takes a few shifts to get used to, but once you do it becomes pretty darned easy. The chain is quiet and glides along on the cassette and chain rings perfectly. Braking is solid and fast and feels very smooth at the lever. Being on the hoods is really comfortable with the group and I find myself being camped out on the hoods every time I ride with the group. It is just that comfortable. I mounted the levers to a set of Ritchey Pro alloy bars with ergo bend that isn't ideal for the shifters (you have to turn the bars way up to get the flat transition to the hoods right), so you have very little use of the drops. Still, with how comfortable the hoods are, I don't know if I'd use the drops for much more than sprinting anyway.
Here's the rub- if there is a flaw to the group, a weak spot, it is the front shifting. I am not sure if it is the "fault" of the shifter or the derailleur, but my theory is the shifter. Here's the thing- there is no trimming the front derailleur with the shifter, so chain rub issues might be a factor for some folks. Also, the effort required to execute the shift isn't as light as either Shimano or Campy. That said, the shifting has always been spot on- no missed shifts or anything like that. it just feels like you have to "push" a little harder to get the shifts you want. Maybe this is more noticable because the rear shifting is so flawless... I dunno.
Anyway, that's my first impressions after a couple of 1 hour rides during my lunch rides. I want to spend some time on longer rides and see if the hoods stay as comfortable and also what the break-in is like with the rest of the group. Stay tuned for more in-depth feedback (and pictures to come).
Today's Daily Drive;Today's drive has a Special Guest- very special indeed; Masidaughter. It's staying dark in the mornings now that we are in winter, plus it was overcast this morning. Even though it means driving home in the dark, I'm looking forward to the time change so that it is not so dark in the mornings.
Anyway, always nice to have the "punkin" in the car in the mornings... look at that smile!
Yes, that's right- I have a new tattoo. My fourth actually and I love it!
The artwork is courtesy of my fellow coworker, Dave Law.
Dave is one of our inside sales guys and is also a very talented young artist. He is doing some of the graphic artwork for the Haro BMX bikes and really is a great kid. He's got talent... a lot of it too. The tattoo artists were very impressed with his design.
Speaking of the tattoo artist; meet Soda Pop (I doubt it is his birth name, but when you can sling ink as well as he does, you're allowed a cool pseudonym)-
(Soda Pop is the guy in the background...)
Soda Pop is one of the several really cool tattoo artists at Above All Tattoo (3825 5th Avenue, San Diego CA 92103, (619) 299-8282) in my neighborhood in San Diego. They are just a few blocks away from where I live and have been in business just one week at this location (they have one more in San Diego, in the Pacific Beach area). If you are in the area and thinking of a tattoo, please put these guys on your list.
The shop is located in what used to be an old movie house that is now converted to retail space.
All of the staff there is awesome! Seriously, I was floored by how nice the whole crew there is. They have a pool table in the back of the building and I think I might just have to go hang out there and have a few beers and shoot pool with them some time. They are in my neighborhood after all. I talked to all of them and all of them were cool and nice and really care about what they are doing and the people they are working on/ with. During my tattoo (2.5 - 3 hours), each of the different artists came in to check on things and to see if I was ok or needed anything. They were kick ass! Seriously... go check them out if you are in San Diego. I love my new tattoo!
Now for the mushy part, where I explain the symbology in the tattoo;
My wife and I are both Pisces. The zodiac sign for Pisces is two fish- sometimes displayed in a Yin-Yang sort of arrangement. My wife is my very bestest friend (Squirrel is #2), as I've mentioned before. She and I are way more similar than dissimilar. Like a true Yin-Yang, we do a pretty good job of "completing" each other (not in that really horrible, cheesy Jerry Maguire way). I gave Dave the concept and he came up with the drawing. The red/ orange Koi fish is me and the sleek, slim green Koi is my wife. Both of us love the water, so the water bubbles in the middle are our connection to the water.
The tattoo represents the two of us, as Pisces, making up a single Yin-Yang together. We do balance each other really well in real life and now we do the same in the tattoo. She is my partner, in so many more ways than I can possibly express (though I do keep trying). This tattoo is a simple reminder (not that I need one) that we are together, swimming through life together, for always.
Ok, enough mush... now for more pictures!
Soda Pop preparing his sterile equipment.
The sterile equipment. Everything nice and clean. I watched Soda Pop pull fresh needles out of sealed packages, so I know they were clean and sanitary.
My "pain face" (just for you Gilby)... anybody tells you "tattoos don't hurt", punch'em in the nuts/ ovaries for me! After 4 of these things now, I can tell you.. it hurts. I'm sure Sascha would agree...
Before anyone comments... yes, I know I have a large ass. I'm a track sprinter for crying outloud... we're supposed to have big asses.
How many of you got to have your calves wrapped in celophane this evening? That's what I thought... My reward for sitting through 2+ hours of tattoo and walking home with my leg wrapped in celophane? Newcastle Brown Ale...
... and a beautiful new tattoo!
Again, many thanks to Dave Law for bringing my idea to life and to Soda Pop and Above All Tattoo for bringing Dave's artwork to true life. I'm extremely happy...
I'm back from the electronic grave. The old battle hardened laptop has a new hard drive and is running like a champ all over again. The past week was a dreadful nightmare as I tried to get anything done. Now I have access to my emails and files again, so I am at least partially able to actually "do something".
Since I have just been sitting around picking my nose for the past week, I don't have tons of stuff to report. Trying to wrap up as many things as possible and start the product cycle all over again for the next series of products... got any suggestions?
As I am trying to get my thoughts organized, I thought I'd just go with a couple of random things...It wasn't the prettiest day at the beach this weekend, but it was good enough for my daughter!
She likes the beach... a lot. This was part of my drive in to work, crossing over an ocean lagoon with the sun coming up through the clouds... Then driving up the hill to the office, I got to look into the clouds and sun... it was creepier looking than the photo can ever reveal. (I'm no Ansel Adams...)
So I'm getting caught up and trying to finish the major cleaning of my work area. We'll see how it goes.
Anyway, more to follow- pictures, stories, etc. Lots of etc.
Today is/ was (depending on where you are and when I finish this) the birthday of my best friend James Todd Becher- also known as Racer Blue Squirrel.
It seems as if I have known Jim my entire life, but it has actually only been about 15-16 years. When we met, neither of us knew anything about the other's previous life as a cyclist. At the time we met, Jim was finishing architecture school and I was working in a coffee shop/ art gallery and living the starving artist life of a poet. Neither of us was riding at the time, Jim being in school and living part of the time in Europe (he was actually ON the Berlin wall when it fell) and I was spending all of my waking time smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day, chasing girls and writing until I fell over asleep. Jim and I were introduced through a bunch of mutual friends, but long before we were ever officially introduced, we were two ships passing in the night. Actually, two guys passing in the hall to the bathroom- we were dating two girls who were roommates. We didn't even know who the other person was, as we were never introduced (and truth be told I only dated the girl for three weeks before she taped a note to my front door breaking up with me). Anyway, we became very good friends through the coffee shop and have been very close friends ever since then.
Over the years, Jim has been my best man each of the two times I've gotten married. Some might think that means he did a bad job the first time, but he did a great job- which is how he got the job a second time. For probably the last 10 years, Jim has lived in Los Angeles and I have stayed here in San Diego. Because of this, we don't get to hang out as often as we would both like to. However, the friendship has remained strong and we talk very frequently. In fact, Jim was at Interbike the past two years. And this year, just as last year, Jim has been the person responsible that I actually get a chance to eat and drink during the show each day- since I never get a chance to take a break and get out of the booth.
Not all that long ago, maybe 5 years ago, Jim decided to get back on the bike. Since making that choice, he's been pretty much an even bigger nutjob about cycling than me. He probably reads more of the race reports and watches all of the online race coverage- even though he still pronounces the names of riders worse than Phil Liggett. (I swear, for a guy who has seen nearly every inch of Europe, his pronounciations are horrible!) Jim has over the past couple years become one of the world's biggest Masi fans- outside of me of course. His undying support of my work has been very much appreciated and needed. He's been a great sounding board for my ideas and has been a constant cheerleader for the brand. He's been a great racing supporter and has put his money where his mouth is and started a team- the one I race for. On top of being a great architect (a really great one), he's also a damned good graphic designer and web designer.
Over the past few years, we've ridden together several times- though admittedly we'd both like to ride more together. I've had the great pleasure of watching Jim regain fitness, enter races and really progress as a rider. It's been great to watch his passion for cycling grow and grow. I mean, I'm pretty consumed by cycling (just ask my wife), but Jim is right there with me.
This is beginning to sound a bit too much like a love letter, which it isn't, so I'll get to the damned point; Happy Birthday Jim. I'm more thankful for our friendship than you'll ever know. (But this doesn't mean I'm going to let you start winning those sprints any time soon! Some things will never change...)
If you have the money and the time, go to Arizona and ride with Gord Fraser. Yeah sure, I know he rides a Cannondale and I should be getting people to avoid any further exposure to them... but Gord's a cool guy and the camps are supposedly a lot of un. So go!
Two camps this year; November 12-19 and March 11-18.
Tell him the Masiguy sent you and he'll likely charge you extra... so don't do that.
Is it any wonder that I don't have a working laptop yet? (Let's not get another computer debate going... please... that means you Squirrel.) Friday the 13th... I should've just stayed in bed. AND it rained off and on today so I didn't get to ride today. It rains something like three times a year here and today was one of them... so much for the annual average of 72 and sunny.
Our new Warranty Manager, Pat Crosby, gave me a second bottle of a delicious home brewed red lager- nice and creamy with a very smooth finish. It's yummy and has me excited about brewing up the two beers I've been putting off; I've got an Irish Stout and English Ale that I need to brew up. Now I guess I'll have to... thanks again Pat (yummy stuff).
Thanks to all of you who have either commented or emailed with the corrections/ suggestions to be made to the website. We'll get the glitches worked out soon and possibly add some additional photos and update all of the team news stuff as well (good stuff to talk about).
The cross race season is in full swing and our new cross bike won't be here in time for much racing this year. As much as I have been pushing to get them sooner, it looks like we won't be seeing them still until late November. I know that is too late for some folks, but I struggled with the idea of simply saving the bike as an '08, but decided that I really wanted it in the upcoming range because I wanted people to get the chance to ride it now. Seriously, the bike kicks ass. Just check out the website and look at the spec and the geometries... it's perfect! It's also going to be available as a frameset with frame, fork and headset for those of you who like to custom build your bikes. I have been super-dooper happy with the bike, in the limited riding I've been able to do on it. It's very sweet... even for a road nerd who can barely keep from falling over in the dirt.
Leg humping time; SRAM- Are you listening? The new SRAM road groups kick ass! I love Shimano and Campy both, but the new SRAM Rival and Force groups are sweet. If the bigshots at SRAM are reading this site again- I need 175 cranks and an 11-anything cassette. I've got a sweet new carbon frame that would look smokin' hot with a Force group... I'm just saying.
Seriously, Shimano and Campagnolo both make incredible parts. Shimano has the smoothest shifting and Campy has the most gorgeous cosmetics, but SRAM blends the two smoothly into one group. Now, that isn't to say that the stuff is completelty "flawless". The only observations I've made that can qualify as "complaints" are that the front derailleur can't be trimmed between the wo chainrings and feels less effortless than the Shimano; if you have already exhausted the available gearing in the cassette on a climb and then try in vain to shift again to an easier gear, it will shift down to a harder gear (learning curve and knowing where you are in the rear) and there currently is not an option for bar end shifters for TT bikes. So far that is all I have come up with. That's it. Not bad at all. Otherwise, SRAM now has the very best ergonomics I've found yet on the shifter hoods. I have pretty darned big hands and the levers transition so smoothly from the hood to the bar top that it essentially creates one gigantic perch for my meaty mits. I could happily spend hours on the hoods of these shifters. The rear shifting is superb- especially coming down the cassette. The Open Glide cog design is awesome- it basically looks like you are missing a tooth on the cog. This is supposed to create a "gateway" for the chain to move quickly to the next cog. All I can say is that you touch the shifter and then the chain is magically on the next cog... BANG! Here's the big and so far unanswered question; what is the durability going to be like and how servicable will it all be? SRAM's MTB parts are known for their durability, so I am optimistic.
Since I was an early cheerleader for the stuff and now get frequent questions about the groups, I plan to update occasionally on what I experience with the parts as well as the feedback that I get from other riders and our retailers. Should be interesting anyway...
One of the best new trends I spotted this year at Interbike was the abandonment of cosmetic weave carbon fiber on bikes and parts. Personally, I've grown tired of that particular look and it serves almost zero purpose on a bike, other than potentially as a protective sheath for the "real carbon" underneath. Cosmetic weave is what we're all used to seeing as carbon fiber- on bikes or other products- but it serves little or no structural purpose... and it just adds weight. Unidirectional carbon is "real" carbon and I personally think it looks so much cooler and "high tech". More and more folks are adopting it... so stay tuned...
Here is my vote for most awesomest and coolest bike part of Interbike 2006; the new PRO (division of Shimano) track disk wheel (it's the white disk in the bottom left corner)! The new PRO Track Lite rear disk is the most amazing piece of track equipment I've seen in many, many years. The cover is a tensioned Mylar (I think) and the hub internals are Dura Ace. The alloy rim is light... and there is nothing inside the disk. It is as hollow as my head! Mike Morrill from Shimano pulled the disk down off the wall to show me how tough it was by placing it on the floor and then stood on the side of it and rocked back and forth! AND... get this... it only weighs something like 760 grams! OHMYGAWD I have to have one! My kids just might have to go to a community college now. Being hollow, it is sure to make a ton of noise... but so what! Being that light and stiff, even if they hear you coming, they won't be able to catch you when you go by! If you race track, you need this disk wheel.
It might seem foolish to say nice things about my competitors, but I have to say that Scot Nicol and the gang over at Ibis still just impress the hell out of me. The products sure look great and on top of it, Scot is still Scot! He's still just as smart and clever as ever... and still funnier than all hell. The new road and moutain frames/ bikes might not appeal to the "Ibis purists" but they sure look cool.
To all of the folks who are still waiting for a reply to an email from me... I swear I'm gonna get to you. I met a lot of great folks at Interbike this year who have sent me follow-up emails and I haven't been able to answer them all yet- especially with the dead hard drive. BUT, I will get back to you. Squid and Team Puma- that means you. Mike Dee and the crew in NYC- that means you. Happy Mutant- that means you. Everybody else- that means you too. Thank you for your patience. For all of you who have been sending emails through the corporate website and have not gotten an answer, I am still working through a pretty big backlog and will get to all of you as well.
Ok, that's all I've got for the moment. Computer is still dead. Emails are still behind. New products are good. New website is great. Stuff is pretty good. I'm going to bed!
Ok kiddos, the new 2007 bikes are up on the website. The "skin" of the site is unchanged, though there are new pictures, but all of the new bikes listed are the new models/ colors, etc.
I highly recommend that you check it out... and while you're at it tell me if you find any mistakes or glitches so I can get it fixed. I have spent so much time looking at it that I have surely missed something.
My computer is driving me insane again; my Outlook program is pooping out again. It died a painful death a few months ago when the hard drive on my laptop went "pifft". Our Tech Guru, George, was able to salvage my email when he installed the new hard drive... but he said it could still have "some issues". Yep.
So now I have to use my webmail again, which means I have no access to all the old emails on my laptop and it also means I currently have no access to the 100+ unanswered emails I have since before Vegas. Needless to say, to all those folks who sent me an email before noon today and didn't get an answer, well you have an answer as to why now.
Since getting back from Vegas, I've had a bit of a stomach problem. It's been getting better slowly, but it is still lingering around. After all the travel of the past few months, I've had a very hard time finding anything that even remotely resembles "fitness". I can barely muster enough strength to get out of my own way right now. Essentially; I suck. That was painfully evident at the Hangover Ride on the second day of demo in Vegas. I was able to stay with the "fast guys" until we hit the rolling hills and then I popped dramatically. Let me tell you- I haven't gotten any stronger since then. My overly competitive nature continues to get the best of me and I have a very hard time just riding to regain some of the lost fitness- ease my way back into shape. Today was a beautiful day, though still too damned windy (there is almost always a 20mph headwind anywhere you go near our office). I went out for one of my usual hour-long lunch rides and it was warm enough to ride with simply a base layer and no arm warmers. However, my legs were just dead. The past two days I was actually feeling like some strength was coming back and then the bottom fell out of them today. The last few miles I just sort of limped in to the office, though I made a valiant effort up the last steep hill to the office. I'd feel better about the dead legs if I was doing a lot of weightlifting, but I don't think I've been to the gym since August! I have got to get back to the gym so I can start lifting and putting the bulk back on for the track next year. My knees were the issue for a while, but they seem to be ok now, so I need to start working on squats, leg presses, extensions and curls again. I want the legs I had in '96 again- the ones my friends still refer to as the "freakish legs".
Word of caution; if our Creative Director, Pete Demos, ever asks you if you want to go ride the trails or a skatepark, run for your life! Pete has broken two employees just this week; broken hand and multiple facial wounds. Consider yourself warned...
I admit it; I'm a slob. I'm also a pack rat and a hoarder. I have bunches of old bike parts that I will never use again and that are useless to almost anybody. I'm a mess...
Today I spent a couple hours going through the boxes and stacks of crap on and around my desk. All the magazines, all the sample parts, all the old parts that have been taken off my bike and replaced with another, all the invoices, letters, sponsorship requests, product information, etc. I'm not even close to done, but I did manage to toss out a few boxes of crap... and I do mean crap.
Like the former communist Soviet Union, the walls are coming down at Masi (Haro). My little cubicle will be demolished by the lovers of freedom and open space. Gone will be the walls and secrecy they provide... I'll be exposed to the world within our offices. Naked and bare...
He's just too pretty for words, so the picture tells the tale. His name? Chad Thompson; team director/ manager of A&F/Inferno and a genuinely decent guy... for somebody so pretty.
Personally, I recommend printing this on nice glossy paper and holding on to it until the next Interbike or any event where the team is racing. That way you can get C to the T to autograph it. Now, ladies, I must warn you that he is happily married to a very wonderful woman... so you'll have to worship from afar. Maybe it's just the bike...
I don't frequently give product endorsements, but there are some products that just merit praise. It doesn't hurt that I like the people associated with the product...
Medion Corporation is the maker of eLoad and eMend, two products that I highly recommend. You might recall that Medion is the official supplier of hydration products for the A&F/ Inferno team that Masi sponsors. I was first introduced to the products when I attended the team training camp in February. Darren Zielinski is the guy who is pretty much The Man for Medion in the US (the company is from Canada). On top of that, he's just a cool good guy.
Out at Dirt Demo this year, Darren set up a tent and poured folks something tasty to drink in the heat. Well, he set up the tent after the folks from GES found his stuff... which was in the Expo hall and not in the desert, where he needed it. It was about 2:00-ish when he finally got his tent and product on the first day of demo. In the end, he got his stuff in time to hydrate a few folks and even got the EMT's using the product for their hydration needs. Pretty cool...
Anyway, Darren "discreetly" left a few packets of eLoad and eMend each time he would swing by my booth at demo. He came by a few times in two days... so I got a good handful of individual packets. Since I hadn't used the product since February, I'd kind of forgotten how good the stuff works and tastes. One of the things I like the most about the products is that they don't have a super sweet taste and don't lead to any stomach issues when riding. Some products end up giving you stomach cramps (or worse), so I appreciate the mild flavor and how well it is absorbed into the body. Dr. Stoddard, the creator of the product, explained all of the benefits of the products and how they work (and they DO work) during the team's training camp. Let me just recap that by saying there is a lot of science behind the products.
The point is, if you are looking for a great working, great tasting performance hydration product this is the stuff you need to be using. In all the years of riding and racing that I've done (nearly 25 now), I've yet to find a product that works this well.
Ok, I'll stop now...
Tim (For the record, I am not getting paid or getting abunch of free product for this. Using the product recently simply reminded me how much I like the stuff. Plus, Darren is a cool guy and I wanted to offer up a good testimnoial for a fellow team sponsor. So there...)
Day three; The day started off really slow for the first two hours, but as predicted kicked right back in to crazy busy around 11:00 and stayed that way for a few hours before tapering off again around 3:00- the traditional die off time. The last day of the show is traditionally a very slow and weird day. This year was no exception, though I have to admit that when it was busy, it was very busy. The last day of the show is also when lots of my friends pack up and get out of town and head home and I realize that I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with them.
Once the show was over at 6:00, it became a mad dash to tear down all of the booths and get things ready for the next morning, when we would be crating things up and sending them back to San Diego and then loading our rental trucks and heading back home.
(Tony D, our BMX Brand Manager, taking care of "bidnitz" during teardown.) (Chris Raceles- our BMX Product Manager- in the midst of teardown.) (The Masibestfriend checking his eyelids for holes during teardown.)
Loose ends and random pieces; This year I saw lots of people I hadn't seen in too long and only really got to say "hello" before they left. I also met some folks who were friends that I had never met before in person. Karl Wiedemann, Meagan Polino (more on her later) and other cool new friends. It's impossible to name them all and I really stink with names in the first place. Needless to say, the community of people I know in and around the bike industry is pretty amazing. Here's a cool example; Gord Fraser is one of the very best road sprinters around. This was his last season of racing. He crashed in Bermuda (?) in his very last professional race. Gord swung by the Masi booth to talk to our Director of Sales- Doug Cerri, who used to be with Speedplay (who has been Gord's pedal sponsor for years). Anyway, I've met Gord once and done one race with him over the years and he greeted me with a big smile, a firm handshake and a genuinely cool attitude. Gord recognized the rider in one of our booth signs- another Canadian rider- Scott Goguen. Gord gave me a big handshake after our conversation and asked me to be sure to say hello to Scottie for him the next time I talked to him. I've never actually spoken to Scottie, though he rides for the Masi-Adobe pro team, but I thought it was really cool that Gord went out of his way like that. I saw Gord a few more times during the show and he always waved and said hello on his way by. THAT is one of the reasons why I love this stuff so much. Gord Fraser is just a damned good guy and this industry is full of them. (By the way Scottie- Gord says hello... if you happen to read this.)
One of the other highlights of the show for me, was the one and only Dario Pegoretti. Dario crafts some of the most incredible bikes I have ever seen. The man is such an amazing artist. His work is timeless as well- some of the bikes he was showing have been displayed for more than one or two years because they are so amazing. Anyway, one day as I was headed to the restroom, I walked by Dario. I was tempted to stop and say something to him, but my pressure warning light was on and glowing red. On the way out (yes I washed my hands thoroughly), I saw Dario still having a conversation. As I passed him I thought, "I should stop and say something"... but I kept going. I got about three steps and spun around and politely as possible interrupted the conversation to shake Dario's hand and tell him how much I loved his bikes. He looked at my exhibitor badge and smiled awkwardly. It wasn't a perfect moment, but it was really cool and genuine.
(Check out the custom lugged stem.)
(Super clean lines...)
(Not only is the head tube lug gorgeous, but the fork crown is amazing. Check out the inscription; "Buonasera signorina"- Good night ladies. Amazing...)
Another really cool moment was when Patrick O'Grady came in to the booth and checked out the new CXR cross bike. I'm a big fan of O'Grady's cartoons and his editorials. He isn't for everybody, I know, and I don't always agree with him either... but I do feel that he is one of the very best writers in the cycling world. Seriously, I mean that. Patrick and I spent some time talking about cross bikes, which is kind of his thing, and bikes in general. It wasn't nearly a long enough conversation for me, so I offered to buy him a beer if he ever gets to San Diego. Anyway, it was great to speak to him and get to be a bike nerd with him.
The guys from A&F came around the booth several times over the course of the show and hung out. I got to see them at the Sinclair party too, but didn't get to really spend a lot of quality time with the guys. These guys have been a great team and have gotten some great results this year- and next year will be even better. They aren't just a team of riders though, as they've become very good friends and are becoming more like family all the time. I've been thrilled to work with them this year and am hoping to keep working with them for many years to come. If you see them at a race, scream loud for them and tell them the Masiguy says hello.
This year's show was a big deal for a number of reasons. Some of them good, some of them bad, some of them just taking up space in the line. Last year's show was good for me too, but overall was something of a down year for the tradeshow itself. This year the atmosphere seemed much better and the "feeling" was very positive. I haven't seen numbers yet, but I'd be willing to bet that attendance was up this year over last year. I'd also be willing to bet that most people would rate it better than last year. Between an awesome Dirt Demo and an incredible indoor Expo, it was a great year to be at Interbike. To all of the folks I got to talk to- thank you for your time and for hearing me out. For all of those folks who came by the booth and didn't get to talk to me because it was so busy- I'm sorry and I hope you'll try again next year or just get in touch with me on your own schedule.
I love our silly tradeshow and the opportunies it gives me each year to share my passion with all the other folks who have a simialr passion. I was worried that all of the doping scandals would leave a dark cloud over the show. Honestly, it doesn't seem like it made a mark at all. A few people mentioned it, but it was really just a passing thing and I didn't hear a single person blame slowing sales on the scandals. I remember in 1998, after the Festina Affair at the Tour, people were pretty worried. Heck, when things went sideways this year, I got pretty worried myself. Looks like I just might have gotten proven wrong. Time will tell.
I know there are other stories to tell and as I remember them, I will tell them. I have more photos too, so I know this Interbike stuff isn't done quite yet... but I'm going to bed now.
The last episode left off with the Day One of the Expo. Logically, we should now be moving to Day Two. However, many of you already know that I am not a logical man. Passionate, yes... logical... another story.
One of the highlights of Day One, which I didn't cover last time, was that it was also the day that the New York Times ran an article about corporate bloggers. The article happened to feature a brief part of a conversation I had with the writer (Matt Villano), which was also accompanied by a photograph of me on my bike (taken by Sandy Huffaker Jr). Needless to say, I was honored beyond all belief to be included in the article. I am a lowly bike industry hack with a blog and somehow I managed to get into the Times. As a writer, I have always wanted to be in the NY Times, so this is much bigger to me than many folks can possibly comprehend. (Best part of all? Even my son read it and thinks I'm cool now.) When I started this project, I never dreamed it would get this kind of attention. Not for one second. That said, I'd keep doing this even if nobody but us bike nerds were reading it. Seriously, I owe the success of this blog to all of you who read it and keep coming back to it and encouraging my efforts. I'm going to stop getting too mushy here, but you folks are a great audience and I thank you all for giving me the chance to talk about my job, my life, my loves and everything else in between.
Ok, back to the show stuff...
Day Two; The second day of the show was very much like the first day of the show- very, very busy. If it weren't for my good friend and team director/ teammate, I would not have eaten for the entire show. He was kind enough to bring me food and make sure that I had stuff to drink, etc. Thank you Squirrel!
Seriously, even with the increased assistance of our sales reps and inside sales folks, I was freakishly busy. I've been scratching my head since the show trying to determine whether it was all just irrational exuberance, maybe people just being nice because they like/ pity me or that the bikes are really that good. Seriously, it was amazing how little objection I got to the bikes and how many positive comments everything got. It was amazing.
Outside of that, there isn't much to report that was different from Day One. It was just a crazy hectic time.
The highlight of Day Two though came in the form of the Bike Blogger Meet-up at the Mist bar in Treasure Island.
(That's the Squirrel on the left.)
(Guitar Ted on the left, Squirrel in the middle, Tim Grahl to the right and then I lose the names...)
What an incredible, small gathering of very passionate people. Donna Tocci was there, Guitar Ted, Tim Grahl, Graham from Go-Clipless, Michael from Mountain Bike AZ, Rich and Chip from Interbike Times, Michael Franken for Cyclelicious and others who I met but didn't remember their names (sorry guys, really). Talk about a passionate group of people! G-Ted, Graham and I, along with Tim Grahl, were in and out of many different and wonderful discussions about blogging and the overall health of the bike world. It was pretty amazing. Even Donna came away pretty impressed... she's just a slighly reluctant blogger, though a great one. Anyway, it was a lot of fun. I felt horrible about missing this gathering last year, so I really wanted to make it this year and I am really glad that I did. Next year will be bigger and better- I'm sure of that. It was great meeting all of you and having the chance to share in such passionate and thoughtful discussion. I came away even more energized than before (if you can believe that).
The show also got me in touch again with friends who I do not get to see nearly enough and retailers who always make me smile when I see them. There are too many names to remember, so I'll mention just a few- Jason at Panther City Bicyles, David from Tsunami Cycles, Will Mahler at Ed's Bike & Ski, Dan at Bicycle Bananas, Chris DiStefano at Chris King (who brought Mr King along with him too), Daniel at Shimano, Brian Asch who sells everything you need in the Bay Area, Stephen Keller who sells almost everything you need in the Southeast/ Atlantic seaboard, my friends from SockGuy (even though I can see them any time I want since they are just a few miles away), my former employers and friends at Canari Cyclewear (also around the corner from the office) and tons of other folks. Sorry if I left you off this list... my brain is pretty much fried.
(The A&F guys; Matt Olson, Mark Hekman, me and Chad Thompson.)
I've said it before and I'll end up repeating it again sooner or later, but I'm lucky to work in such an industry. The people in this business make it so much better than it would be otherwise. The bike industry isn't about getting rich, but about being rich in ways that keep your soul happy.
Now I'm tired again. You'll have to wait for another installment tomorrow. You'll make it... I know you can.