Monday, September 14, 2009

Montreal BTAC/ Expo Cycle- 2009

So another great tradeshow has come and gone- the 2009 edition of the BTAC/ Expo Cycle in Montreal, Canada. The Montreal show is considerably smaller than Interbike or Eurobike, but then again Canada only has roughly 33 million people, versus the over 300 million in the US... so it's forgivable.

I've gone to the show several times over the past 5 years I've been with Masi to support our distributor there- Norco. Norco IS the 800lb gorilla of Canadian cycling- they have a huge line of bikes of their own and distribute nearly every product any consumer or retailer could possibly ever want. As a shameless plug for my friends up north, their Axiom line of accessories is simply top-notch and is some amazing stuff. I highly recommend it and personally endorse it!

Anyway... the folks at Norco and many of their suppliers are good friends of mine, either newly or from several years. Needless to say, it's never hard to get me to go to Montreal to support them and meet with their retailers. Plus, being the mega-bike-nerd that I am, I love being around bikes and bike people.

As I expected, traffic at the show did appear to be down from previous years- though I have no real data to prove that. The traffic in the booth was good, but the overall number of people walking the show did seem to be fewer than previous years. The Masi section of the booth was in prime real estate, so the bikes got great visibility and I had some outstanding conversations with people. I've been to shows in the past, when the economy was bad, and all retailers would talk about was how bad things were and how they were scared for their businesses... which makes for a long and very depressing show. However, this year, dealers were surprisingly upbeat. Sure, they are feeling the pinch of the economy- except for the ones having their best years ever and there were a few- but they felt very optimistic about the coming year. Many expressed having more inventory than they wanted to for this time of year, but they were confident the product would move and then they would have room for more new stuff. In the end, they were expressing a belief in a recovery- though they openly stated that they felt the US economy had been hurt much worse than the Canadian economy, so recovery was likely easier for them.

All that said, the response to the new bikes was exceptionally good. Many folks came back by the booth several times to look at bikes multiple times or to bring other members of their shop by to see bikes. I had more than one retailer say, "that's the best bike of the show, right there"... and that was said about more than one model. Needless to say, as always, that makes my heart skip when I hear stuff like that. We do work very, very hard to create the bikes in our line. It is no superfluous exaggeration to state that a little piece of us goes into each bike. In some cases, it's a really big piece. Having shops say glowing things is great and fills me with great pride, but one of the best things is when they take pictures of the bikes... especially when they use their phone to save the picture. One young shop kid took a picture and gleefully proclaimed that it was replacing the picture of his girlfriend as the wallpaper on his phone! THAT'S the stuff that really makes me feel pretty good... maybe not so much for his girlfriend though.

I have to give the usual thanks to all the folks at Norco- I don't even know where to begin so I'll just thank everybody. Rather than omitting somebody in a list- as I always do- I'll just leave it as a big thanks to all. As always, my friends, it was great to see you all and I sincerely enjoy and appreciate your kindness and friendship.

It was also great to make new friends like Taylor from Burley and Sonya from Ergon, as well as see great friends like Kendall from Ritchey, Chris (Smithers) from Lazer and Karl from Thule- to name a few. It is the people, much more so than the product- which is saying a lot- that I love the most about the work I do to pay the bills (well, most of the bills anyway). I may not be wealthy, but I can sincerely say that I am rich.

Over the course of my 5 day visit, I was able to get out and ride 3 times through the magnificent city that is Montreal. I love to experience a city via bike and I have been blessed to be able to ride in Montreal on multiple occasions. The city is raucous and hectic with some crazy traffic and drivers sometimes, but it all seems to work out. I've managed to avoid many close calls in Montreal and it always leaves me feeling a little bummed that I couldn't ride more. I love to ride on wide open roads in the country, but I live in the city and riding in the city is a part of who I am, so I am used to it and I have grown comfortable with the spastic poetry that is urban cycling. It may not be pretty in the usual sense, but there is something to it that fills me with a lot of joy and peace. Sure, I'd rather be miles from cars and stop lights, but since I can't always do that, I've grown to live with and appreciate the energy and flow of honking horns, brake lights and absentminded drivers. It's less Miles Davis and more Ornette Coleman, but it's a music of its own. I really enjoyed those few rides and seeing the city from angles I would never get otherwise. It's been said many times by people with far better skills than I, but seeing a city from a bicycle gives you a perspective that is somehow better and supremely more enjoyable.

After 5 days, it was time to come home and finish preparations for Interbike in Las Vegas... I leave on Sunday to drive out for set-up for Dirt Demo at Bootleg Canyon before heading into the city for the show itself. Montreal serves as the perfect "warm up" before the big event in Vegas and after my trip to Australia in July, I am pumped up and ready for a great show and excited to see what the US retailer feedback is like for the new bikes and the state of the US bike market.

Sorry for the infrequent posts lately- I'm trying to get back into the swing of things with this crazy workload and travel schedule... hopefully more regular posting will materialize soon.

Here are a few pics to wrap things up;

The Masi section of the booth... where all the magic happens!

Yep, that's me! Part of an old display poster from a previous Norco/ Masi booth a few years ago. Pretty funny...

Sunset from atop Mont Royal on the first night of the show. My good friend Paul Burnett and I got out for a very short spin just at sunset. The view was spectacular, as always.

Paul looking over the city- it was a great view, for sure.

It's probably best that I am a little out of focus- the flab is harder to identify that way.

Yep, I forgot to bring a water bottle with the bike and had to resort to regular bottled drink bottles... but the view is still great!

The view in the daylight- it was a super warm and clear day on Saturday. The view of the city is always so incredible. Down in the distance is the Olympic Stadium from the Montreal Olympics of 1976... which it is rumored was only recently finally paid off.

A family of raccoons- not sure if they spoke French or not- was mooching snacks off the tourists at the lookout point. They looked well fed...

The Olympic Stadium up close- I got to ride by it during my long, getting lost, journey through the city. It is pretty cool up close and looks very modern even more than 20 years after it was built.

My faithful steed at rest along one of the wonderful views along the Saint Lawrence river- the bike trail along the river is gorgeous.

(PS- yes, I ate nearly my entire weight in poutine and Montreal bbq... )

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