I can practically hear the crickets chirping around here. It's been a while since I've posted anything here, so I hope you'll forgive the absence.
I got back in to San Diego on Thursday afternoon and spent Friday trying to recover from the jetlag and what feels like some kind of head cold coming on since about Tuesday in Australia. I slept in yesterday and today until around 10:00- 10:30, which is well beyond rare for me. My head still feels all wonky from the travel and the possible cold/ sinus infection, but it was an excellent day today spent hanging out with my wife and daughter and then dinner with my mother and step-dad. It was a very relaxing day, over all. Tomorrow I will try to get out for a ride for the first time since Wednesday the 15th. My legs feel like hell from the lack of riding, but it's not like the first time I've tried to "come back"...
Anyway, on to Australia...
Myself, Jill Hamilton (Haro MTB/ Asphalt Brand Manager) and John Webber (International Sales Manager) flew to Australia to assist our distributor (Pacific Brands) with their annual trade show/ sales conference for their Australia/ New Zealand retailers and sales force. It was my first return trip to Australia after being there in March/April 2006 when I was there to take part in the official Masi launch for Australia. On that trip, I was in Australia for a bit over 2 weeks and visited Melbourne, Sydney and Brisband. This time around, the trip was much shorter and confined to just Melbourne... though I'm not complaining, believe me. John has been to Australia several times as the Int'l Sales Honch, but the trip was Jill's first to the land of Shiraz and incredible butter.
The weather in Melbourne had been quiet unpleasant before our arrival, but it was spectacular when we got there. Since it is winter in Australia, the temps were a good bit cooler and was pretty windy, but the sun was out nearly all the time and the rain held off until the last day and a half we were there. When we weren't at the magnificent conference venue, we were roaming the streets of downtown Melbourne and taking in the sites of the area along the Yarra River- which was simply gorgeous.
Our venue of "work" during our stay was The Flemington race track- home of the Melbourne Cup. The view of the race track was unreal and I can only imagine what it must be like during the day of the event as hundreds of thousands of spectators crowd the historic grounds. The bikes were displayed in the fourth floor terrace overlooking the track and I have to admit that it had me plenty distracted from the bikes. The winds were whipping over the grandstands with so much force that it did sound as if the entire building was likely going to be flying off to Oz to flatten the whicked witch of the West, but we managed to stay in Aus' instead (no witches were hurt in the production of this blog post).
I am known for being "passionate" or "efervescent" about the Masi line- I should be afterall... it's pretty much my life... but I have to admit that the first time the bikes are unveiled to an audience of impartial judges (retailers), I always hold my breath a little as the first unsolicited opinions roll in. I'm also known for getting pretty excited about the feedback we get for our bikes- which again I should- but I have to say that this was the most emphatically positive review of the line I have yet to hear in the nearly 5 years I have been the Brand Manager at Masi. Sincerely. The only complaint I heard- at all- was that retailers could not get enough of the bikes last year because the demand was higher tha nthe supply in Australia (which I am confident will not be a problem this year, as PacBrands have really beefed up their supply). Each of the new and existing models shown at this show recieved glowing reviews and the questions were mainly focused on "how soon" and "how many can I have". Since PacBrands does not distribute (for now) the entire Masi range, the only other dangling participle of a question was "how do we get them to bring in ___?" Needless to say, it made me one very happy Brand Manager. It's trips like this that make me believe that the work that the Product Manager working with me (Wayne Doran), our two graphic artists (Pete Demos and Rick Ortiz) and myself are doing the right things. Not to get to proud of ourselves, but it shouldn't be long before Masi has compeltely taken over the cycling world... I am fairly sure of it.
Jill, John and myself had a great time while we were in Melbourne and that was in no small part in thanks to the fantatsic hospitality of our hosts. The Masi line is guided by the capable hands of Roger Vandenberg at PacBrands, who was a gracious host as well as picked us all up from the airport when we finally arrived 2 hours late- thanks to a delay in Sydney. Jeremy Cooper is his equivalent for Haro there and he was a very gracious host as well and drove us to and from the venue a number of times... as well as got me addicted to Social Roasting coffees- phenomenal coffee and food. Seriously, some of the very best tasting espresso to ever pass over these very coffee-snob lips. All of the other fine folks at PacBrands, whose names I can't possibly remember all of, were also very kind hosts. Another person who does require mentioning though is Steve Paraskevas who is the Main Man and was also my host the last time I was in Melbourne. Again- many, many thanks to all of you.
I have to give a big thanks to each of the retailers I spoke with as well. I wish I could remember all the names- especially the guy who is a fellow track racer and Masters World Champ who I had the excellent track racing conversation with. Thanks again mate. But each shop that came to visit the Masi booth and allowed me the chance to talk about our bikes helped to make the trip to Australia that much more enjoyable. Sincerely- I am beyond flattered and humbled by your very kind words of enouragment and support for the Masi brand.
Another notable mention has to go out to Malachi of Spoke(n) in St. Kilda. Malachi is a British ex-pat who runs a fantastic little shop. The uber cool retro vibe is more than just a new thing to try out and the Malachi and the crew there know there stuff. The shop left me with goosebumps (and not because it was cold and raining) and the conversation with Malachi was just "spot on". Seriously, I felt very much at home and really have to thank Malachi for allowing us to visit and steal so much of his time. If you're in the St. Kilda area, you couldn't ask for a better shop to visit and purchase a Masi from. If you do go in there, tell them I sent you... and hopefully they won't throw you out!
In the end, it was nice to get home, but my time in Melbourne was very well spent and I look forward to getting back to Australia again. Maybe this time it won't take another 3 years to do it.
Now for some pictures!
The partial view of the race track... from behind the glass in the 4th level grand stand. It was a lot better looking than this terrible picture shows.
A very happy Brand Manager with a SoulVille SS in the wild at BSC Bikes in Melbourne! (Check these guys out too for some really cool bike brands... including Masi of course. Very nice staff there as well.
The front of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne- they have a Dali exhibit that looks incredible from what I can tell from the information I saw. Wish I woulda had time to go give it a look...
I love street art/ graffiti. These little gems were in an alley heading to the river. The whole alley was pretty well coated with really cool art.
John and Jill being a tourist like me! I couldn't resist the chance to get a picture of them... before they got one of me doing the same thing!
The only view of Sydney I had... well, accept for the view from inside the airport terminal.
A wall of Masi bikes at Spoke(n)! They also had a SoulVille display right inside the front of the store as you walk in the door. (I nearly cried.)
Dig the display of cool old stuff from Spoke(n) as well... I dig old stuff!
The Masi and "Biketopia" banners hanging proudly at the show. (It took all the restraint I had in me to keep from stealing one of each of them...)
Downtown Melbourne at night, from across the Yarra... truly a beautiful city. I hope to be back to see her again some day soon.