Friday, May 26, 2006

All kinds of stuff... (SRAM, SRAM, SRAM, SRAM, SRAM...)

Man, what a week... these things just keep running together like crazy. It's amazing how the time has just been flying by for the past, oh 6-8 months!

I won't bore you with the tedious details, but it's been a heck of a ride.

The highlight of the week? Did somebody say SRAM road group? Yes they did! Bryan Bos of SRAM came by the Masi World Headquarters this week with a built up bike with the new Force road group. I can't pronounce the brand of bike... so I won't spell it out either. The bike was a little small for me and I only got to ride it around our parking lot for my own personal criterium, but the group did feel good. That new group, even travel-worn and imperfectly adjusted out of the bike case was very impressive. The shifters feel great in your hands and the shifting is very easy. The front shifting was a little stiff, but that was probably just because of the fact it needed to be adjusted. I mean, the prototype I rode on the trainer in Las Vegas during the trade show was 100% flawless, so I have every ounce of faith that the finished product will be impressive. As cool as the shifting was, I have to admit that I was most impressed by the brakes. The test bike was built up with carbon rimmed wheels and the braking was still very impressive. Sure, the brakes had special brake pads for carbon rims, but the braking power was still very impressive. Even when using special brake pads for carbon rims, braking is usually less than perfect and the braking of the SRAM brakes was flawless and I almost grabbed a bit too much brake going into a turn and spooked myself... they are that good.

Needless to say, I can't wait to get a set of the parts to give a longterm test. I'll update if it happens...

Next week is a short one, thanks to the holiday, and it will be another packed one. Posting may be very sparse again, but it is not because I've stopped loving you. It's me- not you...


Monday, May 22, 2006

Bob Roll update!

Bob has named me the coolest guy in the blogosphere!

Ok, no he didn't- but he would if you asked him, especially if I was standing there handing him a beer at that moment...

Just wanted to pass along the news that the new and improved Bob Roll site is now up and running... so check it out. You can leave comments here about the site- good or bad- because I know Jessi will be around to read them and share them with Bob and the website developer.

Ok, off to bed now...


Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Stepping on landmines" or "how to piss people off"...

Once again, there is a discussion going on (nearly every day) about "real Masi" or "fake Masi"...

I should really just leave this topic alone because there is no way I can win the argument with the people who believe that the current Masi bikes/ frames are nothing like the originals, or that any Masi that isn't somehow touched/ blessed/ designed/ or otherwise sanctified by Faliero Masi himself is worthless. I won't argue with anybody that those frames, from the halcyon days of Masi, are some of the very finest examples of the art of bicycle frame creation. It was the Masi Gran Criterium that made me lust after bicycles and want to race them when I was the impressionable age of 12. Those bikes have a very real and dear place in my heart. I can understand the passion people have for them... probably more than many other people. (That is, after all, why I feel so very fortunate to have this job.)

Here's the biggest issue to me; you can say what you want about the bikes not fitting into your very narrow picture of the world and what you personally believe to be a good bike, but why not allow the people who enjoy the current bikes enjoy the bikes they spent their money on? Why make them feel inferior to you or feel like a fool for enjoying their bike? Basically, why be an ass? I understand that you don't like the "modern" Masi and feel that it is an abomination to you, but let the people who do enjoy the bikes keep riding their bikes happily. After all, isn't that what we all want- people enjoying riding bikes? Please, get off your high horse and let people enjoy riding their bikes.

Another issue I take with this is that some of the people making negative comments are people that I have a lot of respect for. People who I thought very highly of. People who I thought were above such negative sniping. Honestly, I feel let down. I don't know why I do- probably because I'm naive enough to think I can reach an "agreement to disagree" with somebody and let the other person live with their opinion. No harm- no foul. I guess that I'm wrong.

As I've been saying for a long time now; if you can afford to have a custom frame made for yourself, then do it. You'll likely never have a better riding bike than one that is made to measure. Unless the builder is sloppy or cross-eyed, a custom frame will always ride better than anything else. However, if you don't have the money or desire to have a custom frame made, then ride what either appeals to your wallet, your heart, your eyes or your sense of personal expression.

As for the current, "modern" Masi, I am supremely confident you will think it is one of the best riding bikes you've ever ridden and I am very, very honored and proud to get to be the guy who represents the public face of the company. I honestly love what I do and can't believe my good fortune that I get to be one of the people responsible for trying to maintain a rich and wonderful history. I make no apologies for the bikes I sell and gladly stand them up against any other bike.

I sincerely hope that any bike you buy and ride makes you happy for many years and that you smile every time you throw a leg over the top tube and ride along your favorite roads (or trails). Sure, I hope you choose to buy a Masi, since that is what pays my bills and feeds my wife and kids, but I hope that you enjoy any bike you get to ride... and I say that with all sincerity. And I promise I won't call you a fool for your choice.


Friday, May 19, 2006

What happens in Big Bear, stays in Big Bear...

Got back from our Budget/ Branding Meeting late Thursday and spent all day today trying to get caught back up with tings in the office (and I'm not done yet).

You'd think that a meeting about budgets and brand identity might be a bit boring, which it could be, but we got out of the office and went to Big Bear (up in the San Bernardino mountains and in the San Bernardino National Forest). Big Bear had a lot of great snow this winter and still has some at the highest elevations.

The sign appears to read 6754 ft elevation, but my lungs would beg to differ and suggest that there is a 1 missing from in front of the 6....

The riding was incredible there, even at altitude. I rode the loop around the lake several times. The loop is 17 miles and makes for a great ride, with rolling hills and great twisty mountain road descents; nothing like passing cars, on the inside, at 40+ miles an hour, screaming down a mountainside. Plus, the scenery along the lake road was... well, breathtaking...

It wasn't all rides and giggles though. On top of having meetings that lasted all day, except for the break around noon where we got to ride, I even had to man the grill and help prepare meals...I tell ya', it isn't all glamour, fame and fortune... ok, there's no glamour, fame or fortune at all.

Hopefully now I can get back to focusing on the major projects ahead, like finishing the catalog, getting all sample bikes here and built and further developing the line and its future (big goal there).


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Place your order now! Masi 3V steel reproductions are done!

The photos in the previous post tell the tale of the product, but here is the rest of the story...
After a long wait, the frames are finally here and are ready to be ridden and adored for the works of art they are. History is repeating itself, in the best of possible ways!

These frames, all 25 (yes, only 25) were made locally here in SoCal by Ted Kirkbride (who was handpicked by Faliero Masi to run Masi California and was the former owner of the brand) and Russ Denny (who did apprentice work with Masi California and is a well respected framebuilder). The frames were all painted by Cyclesmith (who painted bikes for Masi California) and use the original decals from the 80's. The lugs are the original lugs made in the 80's- not reproductions. The tubing is Dedacciai tubing.

Ted personally selected the Henry James compact horizontal drop outs and fork tips. There is no front derailleur braze-on, so you can have more options with drivetrain selection. The rear spacing is 130mm to accommodate a modern drivetrain, though the frame can work with an older drivetrain, since steel yields well to squeezing to fit the narrower spacing.

The fork is 1" and comes unthreaded so that you have the option of using a threadless headset or having threads cut into the steerer tube so that you can use a standard headset and quill stem (for you purists).

Seatpost diameter is 27.2, so go find your old Record post or SR Laparade, if you're saving your pennies.

Here is what I've got; (by the time you read this, some of these will already be sold)
2/ 50cm
3/ 52cm
5/ 54cm
5/ 56cm
5/ 58cm
3/ 6ocm
2/ 62cm

(I'm working on a full sizing/ geometry chart for the frames, but the top tubes run shorter than the seat tubes- the original sizing. Example- 58cm has 56.5cm top tube length.)

These highly collectible beauties are going to fly out of here- I predict within 2-3 weeks- so go see your local retailer and place an order ASAP.

The MSRP* is $1750 for the frame and fork.

These frames are going to vanish quickly and when they are gone- they are gone. I don't even get one. I have to wait until we do the next reproduction frameset (which I hope to do once a year or every other year, in very limited numbers like this). All 25 frames are in stock now (outside of any that have sold already) and can be shipped immediately.

Now is the chance to own a little piece of cool history.

*MSRP means Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price. This price may vary from dealer to dealer due to freight costs, special order fees, frame prep, etc. Some retailers may even sell the frames for less than the MSRP, especially if you give them a 6 pack of good beer or bring a pizza when you go to pay for it...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Random musings of a frustrated, tired and cranky Brand Manager...

Sometimes it feels like you just cant win. Disclaimer; the following is going to sound like a gigantic, winy bunch of crap- because that is what it is.

The past few weeks have been very challenging and filled with hiccups, mistakes, headaches, frustrations and a bunch of other tedious stuff. At the moment, I'm in the middle of multiple concurrently running projects- all with damned near simultaneous deadlines. Needless to say, It's hard to stay focused and see any one project through to completion. I have always been a big proponent for the saying, "better busy than bored". Now I'm eating those words very grumpily.

I am in the middle of creating/ planning/ writing/ crafting the next Masi catalog- which is going to be awesome by the way. There are countless details to take care of; models to use and ride the bikes, work with the Graphic Department to create a look and feel, come up with copy for the catalog (copy that tells a better story than previous versions of the catalog), determine photo shoot dates and coordinate the models and the bikes... and get bikes. Oh yeah, the bikes...

FYI; to all you budding Brand Manager/ Product Manager wannabes out there- you need bikes to shoot a bike catalog. Just so you know...

To steal from my competitors over at Specialized (please don't send your legal team after my broke ass)- Innovate or Die. (Trademarked/ copyrighted/ whatever Specialized Bike Company)
What nobody tells you is that the innovate part will kill you, so either way you are screwed.

One of the coolest and yet absolutely terrifying new challenges I've been given, along with the other Brand Managers at work, has been to spend the week working on a budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. I can barely balance a checkbook (truth be told, that is my wife's job since she was an accountant) and here I am trying to figure out how to spend money and make it mean something. I kid you not, I spent at least an hour staring at the budget spreadsheet and didn't do a damned thing but stare and start to get an anxiety attack. It is a great challenge and a wonderful opportunity to have true ownership of what I do, but that is also very paralyzing. I mean, if I under-budget, then I won't have the money to spend if I need it. If I shoot too high, I look like a fool for not spending the money I thought I'd need, if I come in too far under budget. it's complex and frightening to a Piscean dreamer like me; numbers and money are not my thing.

Next week we have a three day long Branding/ Budget/ Marketing Summit out of the office so that we can be focused and undisturbed. It will be great for a number of reasons, but largely because I really enjoy the company of the people I work with. Our boss, Joe Hawk, is a great guy- and I'm not saying that to kiss his ass either. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed working with Jim Ford (the previous President of the company), but Joe is doing a great job and it is very exciting for all of us to have this new beginning and energy within the company. It's going to be a very, very busy three days and a lot needs to be covered, but it will also be a lot of fun hanging out "after hours" with the folks I share a building with.

The coming bikes will be incredible. I am so very excited about the work we've been doing. My partner in crime, Mike Varley (Senor Product Development Manager), and I have been working very hard to craft a line of bikes to blow your mind. I've also been working very closely with Rick Ortiz (Graphic Artist) and Pete Demos (Creative Director) to come up with beautiful looking bikes, ads and a new catalog. I'm really excited about the look and feel of things and I am very confident that you will be too... and some noise is going to be made... I promise. The new additions to the line (if I can get them in time to make this next line) will really get some attention and will be the next phase in developing the brand into something that recaptures the former glory and prestige it once had.

All of this work and travel over the past several months has kept me from being able to wax poetic about the accomplishments of both the A&F/ Inferno and Masi-Adobe teams. Both teams have been rocking their respective worlds. Both teams have been racking up the results as well and I will have race updates and pictures to share with you soon. A&F/ Inferno has been kicking serious ass and Mark Hekman has been one of the biggest ass kickers for them. Mark has gotten some great wins and high placings to be the top-ranked amateur crit rider in the national standings. Go Heksquatch! Andy Applegate has gotten a few TT wins as well and the rest of the team has been rock solid. Rich Harper continues to be the class clown, but the guy is also faster than hell! Even the little bullet Ryan Gamm got a nice big win. This kid weighs about as much as my shoes and he wins a big race! I'm very proud of the guys; CONGRATS! The Masi-Adobe team up in Canada has been spanking their fellow Cannucks around. Scott Goguen won the very grueling, wet and nasty Harris-Roubaix race- the opener of the BC Cup. More on that to follow soon... These guys have been lighting it up, up north, and I am equally proud of them as well. As a sponsor, I'm a pretty lucky guy. More results and pictures soon- here and on the Masi corporate website as well.

Another side effect of being so busy has been a big decrease in the amount and quality of blogging I've been able to do here. It's been a major frustration for me too, but I hope to improve things soon. As soon as the BIG projects get under control, I'll be able to get back to a more normal schedule of regular posts. I am going to try to come up with some more interesting interviews with some cool people as well. How'd you like that Bob Roll interview? Was that fun or what? I loved that one and hope to bring some more to this site and even start to do some podcasts as well. Hopefully I'll be able to repay your patience and willingness to keep coming back.

Ok, I'm going now... my beer is getting warm.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

CSC wins, T-Mobile unlucky, Discovery not good enough and what the hell is that?

CSC wins the TTT at the Giro today and looks super strong.
T-Mobile almost wins, but gets unlucky with Matthias Kessler dropping off the pace in the last 300 meters, but they still get the leader's jersey with Gonchar.
Discovery was not the Blue Train of years past and now people will be wondering if they can retake the jersey.

The biggest question for me is...

(Photo- Graham Watson/ VeloNews)

... does this moto driver really only have 4 fingers?


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Oooohhhhh.... Aaaaahhhhh

Let the drooling begin...



All the psycho-babble at the beginning is worth it when you get to the last paragraph...


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Houston BP MS150- part 2

Ok, so we left off on the journey into Lagrange...

The roads were, as shown in the previous post, pretty darned flat. I'm not complaining, since I am a professed "non-climbing fat guy". Once I got good and warmed up, since it was a chilly start to the morning, I just put my head down and pretty much time trialed between conversations and the two rest stops I made to refill the water bottles. At one point I pulled up behind a group of about 8-10 riders going at a pretty good pace, so I dropped into their paceline and rolled with them. When I got to the front, I just rolled into a normal, comfortable pace. Admittedly, as somebody who has been racing and training for the past 25 years, my idea of a comfortable pace may be different to a few people. The group I was with was a group of guys who obviously ride regularly, but I doubt they are fulltime race geeks- even though they had shaved legs. Well, I ended up on the front of this group for nearly ten miles before I realized, "gee, I've been pulling for a long time, maybe I should pull off..." I looked back and three guys were there and when I pulled off, the first guy asked "is it ok if we take a pull?" I laughed and apologized for being antisocial. We rolled along a while longer and then I rolled away at my own pace again and thanked the group for the company.

One of the very best parts of the ride, for me to see, was the number of families out on the ride with their kids. 98 miles from Houston to Lagrange and there were kids on their own bikes or riding tandems/ Alley Cat attachments. That is amazing to me. I stopped about a dozen times to encourage a few of these folks with their kids. I saw a few kids that could not have been any older than 8-9 years old. Whoa! Amazing.

I made my last stop with about 25 miles remaining to Lagrange and the fairgrounds where we camped out over night. Topped off the bottles again, ate a few orange slices and pieces of banana and had a handfull of cut up Snickers candy bar... on ice! Nothing like a cold piece of Snickers when it is about 90 degrees and very humid. During those last 25 miles though, I was visited by the Care Bears and Papa Smurf sat on my handlebars and insulted my manhood, suggesting that Smurfette could kick my ass. Needless to say, the sugar was wearing off and the miles were catching up to me. This lasted for about 5 miles before the Hammer Gel kicked in and saved my butt before a full-blown bonk settled in. By the time I got to Lagrange, 98 miles after Houston, I'd been on the bike riding for a little less than 5 hours and managed a pace of 20 mph. More importantly, I'd ridden with a whole bunch of people who were riding for a great cause and were having a lot of fun.

(This is early in the day... before the rest of the riders arrived.)

There is something to be said for a warm shower after such an effort... even a shower in a trailer with 20-30 of your closest friends that you stand in line for, for about an hour. That had to be one of the greatest showers of my entire life!I was coated in sun screen, dead bugs, road grime and sweaty salt deposits. That portable shower trailer was an absolute Godsend. Everybody coming out of it said the exact same thing... it was pretty funny.

I'm going to confess; the best part of the entire day was the post ride massage I got at the tent of my Sun & Ski hosts. They provided free 30 minute massages by real massage therapists for all of their riders. All I caught was her first name, but "Pat" gave my tired, knotted legs and back an amazing massage. Pat, I am guessing, learned her trade from former Soviet sports massage/ KGB agents. She had hands like a vise and gripped my leg muscles tight enough to make me wince a few times, but it was SOOOOO worth it. I hit that table stiff as a board and walked away like a Play-Doh noodle! Thank you, thank you, thank you Pat!

Ok, the massage might be tied with the post ride BBQ, which Masi sponsored (yes, you can thank me... well, my boss actually, but I'm stealing the glory). The beef brisket was insanely good. The chicken was delicious and the grilled sausage was so good I had three helpings of it. The beans and potato salad were great too... but that might have been because I was starved. All told, I must've had 4 plates of food stacked a good 6 to 8" deep. To wash it down, there were copious quantities of Shiner beer. I'm not sure how many I had while "rehydrating", but it was more than 2. That much I know...

That evening, I slept in the big team tent in my sleeping bag on the ground with the other Sun & Ski team riders. Sadly, I made a bad choice of ground and slept poorly with the rocks and roots poking me. I slept, don't get me wrong, I just didn't wake up feeling like I'd slept much. Due to a misunderstanding on my part, I didn't join the other riders and ride into Austin. Instead, I helped my hosts tear down there massive set up and got riders out onto the roads. The first riders were lining up to depart by 5:00AM. It wasn't even light outside and riders, by the hundreds, were preparing to ride. It was actually really cool to see the place humming with activity.

(Riders lining up in the darkness for a day in the sun.)

After tearing down and getting all of the riders off and on the road to Austin, we were on our way driving back to Houston so I could catch my flight back home. There were all kinds of problems with my flight home and luggage getting lost and then found, but I was home and in bed by midnight! I got up with the kids and took them to school, since I hadn't seen them in nearly a week... and then came home and crashed out until about noon. Needless to say, I didn't go to the office.

All in all, the experience was incredible. I joined a lot of people joined in the goal of finding a cure for MS. I had my aunt Joan in my thoughts the whole time I was there. Next year, I'll make sure I plan better and make sure I stick around to ride into Austin for the full impact of the event (as well as bring a bed roll to place under my sleeping bag). I'll take more pictures too and maybe even stop at every rest stop and spend a bit more time talking to folks. Regardless, you can plan on seeing me there again.

(Oh yeah, at the fairgrounds that night, they showed the movie Breaking Away... yeah, the movie with Dave Stoller riding a Masi Gran Criterium.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

It's Giro time!

In a few hours the 2006 Giro d'Italia begins. Grand Tour season is now about to kick off. All of the pundits have been making guesses and proclomations. The press has been following every rider and questioning every team director looking for some sign of what will happen over the next three weeks.

Here's my prediction; somebody will win and somebody will get second and third. I know- that's a crappy little tease. Here's my excuse though; I've been too busy to really follow who is on form and who isn't. What team looks good and what team looks like they are in over their heads? Dunno...

Kidding and smart ass comments aside, I think this will be a great Giro. It could even be one of the best in many, many years. Here's why;
1) Basso is very motivated to win. After last year's bad luck and the promise he made to his dieing mother that he would win the Giro for her, he's coming to this race super motivated and with a very strong team to back him up. Basso may lack the killer instinct that people say he needs, but you can't deny the guy has a lot of heart.
2) DiLuca wants to improve on his performance from last year, when he shocked the cycling world with his amazing ride. He has made no secret of his intentions for the Giro and his desire to win it. He showed amazing strength and courage last year and this year he comes with the full focus of his season being the Giro. He's got to be a candidate for the podium's top spot.
3) Simoni wants to win a third Giro and prove he can still ride with the best Giro riders of his time. He's a gutsy rider with known climbing skills. This year's race should be better for him, with the possible exception of the team time trial. He'll have to rally his troops to ride their hearts out and minimize the time losses. Once the Giro points uphill, which this one does quite a bit, he should start putting time into his rivals.
4) Ulrich? I don't really know what to think of Jan. He hasn't shown his hand yet this year. He always rides in to form at the end of a long race, so maybe he'll get his legs under him in time to actually do something. Otherwise it will be 3 weeks of very hard training for him. Personally, I think this will just be a great way to get in to shape before the Tour.
5) Savoldelli wants to win again. He's an Italian after all, even if he's riding for an "American" team. He's showing up with good form, as seen at Romandie, and will have a team built around getting him to the podium. Discovery has to know that the Tour will be nothing like previous years and has to also know that the Giro is their best chance to get a Grand Tour win this year.
6) Cunego, if actually healthy and ready, could be a real threat. After his stunning and audacious win two years ago, the Italian press deemed him the next Coppi. Well, last year saw him struggle to find form and it was revealed that he was sick the entire year with Mononucleosis (or something similar). The kid is strong and talented. Given the right conditions, he can win again.
7) Jose Rujano, the Venezuelan bombshell from last year's Giro could be a threat this year- thanks to all the climbing. However, I don't think it will happen. Between the fact that he is leaving the Selle Italia team after the Giro, to ride for another team (?), and the fact that he hasn't really raced at all this year I just don't think he has the legs or motivation this year. I think this Giro will be training to prepare for the Tour and maybe a chance to take a stage in the mountains, if the tiny little guy finds his legs in time.
8) Sprinters are going to get the dirty end of the stick this year. As a sprinter myself, I should be upset about this, but I think it will yield a better Giro. Petacchi, McEwen, Brown and all the other fast guys will have fewer chances to win stages and less motivation to stick around for the end of the race. Bettini is likely to be the only fast guy to reach the final stage. Though he is a great sprinter, he isn't a "Super Sprinter" like the Petacchis and McEwens of the peloton. Sprinters always make the most of what they are given, but the fight will be a bit different this year.

Overall, I think the Giro will be really exciting to watch and read about. As is always the case of any Grand Tour, there will be great stories to come from the race. New heroes to root for and new fallen heroes to pity. It's always the same, just different...


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Masiguy Exclusive Interview with "Bobke" Bob Roll!

Being a world famous blogging celebrity, I run in a pretty elite circle these days (insert delusional laugh). Thanks to my celebrity status (NOT!), I have some important new friends. Yes, I've clearly been drinking way too much this evening. However, that fits just fine with the interview here.

I am seriously thrilled to be able to share a great interview with you that I had with the one and only Bob Roll and his snarky business partner (BK, QBK, CBK... you'll see below) Jessi Pacetti. These two are an hilarious pair and it was really an honor to get to spend a little time geeking out with them.

As I stated before, Bob Roll is somebody I've had an immense amout of respect for. Bob is probably most famous now for his commentating during the "Tour day France" on OLN. Bob was also one of the pioneering professional riders on the historic 7-11 team of the 80'-90's. As such, he's something of a hero of mine. Getting to ask him a few questions was a treat that I just can't believe I was lucky enough to fall into. Bob has recently launched his own website, complete with a blog (Blogke), to help him with his own celebrity and to stay in touch with his ever increasing legion of fans and weirdo stalkers (I prolly fit the latter category).

Before I go any further, I have to extend an enormous thanks of serious gratitude to my good friend Donna Tocci. Donna is the one who facilitated the conversation and is also responsible for the "other" Bob Roll interview that I have shared recently. Donna, my friend, I can not thank you enough- YOU ROCK!

Now, without any further babbling from me;

Bob, I was very sad to read of your father's passing and want to extend my condolences to you and your family. Was your father a cyclist or fan of cycling, outside of your accomplishments?

Thank you. My dad was more of an intellectual than an athlete. He was a big fan of my life as a cyclist, but not cycling in general.

Did you grow up in a cycling hotbed, or were you one of those weird social misfits like many other people in this country when you were getting your start? I grew up in Alabama, where cycling pretty much put you on the fringe of the social scene.

The Bay Area continues to be a cycling hotbed in the US. It is still a great place to ride. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to be a cyclist there.

Was your sense of humor always a highlight of your personality or has it "developed" as you've been growing in your celebrity status?

I’ve always had a lot of fun with teammates, sponsors and fans. My teammates always knew I was hilarious and now the whole cycling world has been exposed to that through OLN for better or worse. (Laughs)

Everything I've ever heard or read about you seems to indicate that you are a very humble and down to earth person. How is it that you've done such a great job of not taking yourself too seriously and not getting caught up in "being a celebrity"?

Humility? Yes. I am thankful for everything that has happened to me because of cycling. I have been able to express myself and enjoy the most beautiful sport in the world. Commenting on this is kind of an oxymoron isn’t it?

Now to get a bit more bike nerd-ish, which comes oh-so-easily to me.
Which race did you enjoy riding more; Le Tour or the Giro? (I do believe you rode both, but could be wrong and if so, which race do you prefer as a spectator?)

I much preferred riding the Giro, hands down. The food is better, the people are nicer and the racing is much more enjoyable. The courses are both challenging but the level of humanity extended to the racers is much more forthcoming at the Giro.

Andy Hampsten is another of my cycling heroes. What was it like riding with him? He seems like another "good guy". What was it like being on the first American team to win a European Grand Tour?

Riding with Andy was an honor and always rewarding to work for Andy because he usually came up with the goods. He is a good guy. It was really exciting to compete in the Tour and win a Grand Tour. It’s been a really satisfying point of my career. Taking into consideration that the sport is so much more popular now than it was then – at least in the states.

Davis Phinney is another of the people I have had great respect for. Have you been involved with his Parkinson's fundraising efforts?

Yes. I’ve volunteered many times in his fundraising events. It’s always a pleasure being able to help out with such a worthy cause.

A lot of the guys from that 7-11 team are demi-gods in US cycling. Do you still keep in touch with any of them?

Just about every one. I see all the guys on a pretty regular basis. We are brothers in arms and will always be connected because of our racing.

You are famously linked to Lance Armstrong and have been very close to him over the years. Now that his celebrity star is white hot, do you still speak with him or spend time with him?

I try not to hassle Lance because his time is so stretched with his commitments. We get to speak periodically and I see him throughout the year and it’s always a good time.

When you were racing, who were the guys that you respected? Were there any riders who "scared" you or made you think "ohmygod I'm riding next to _____"?

Greg LeMond comes to mind immediately. I used to want to punch him and say “Greg! You’re the man!” Francesco Moser, Sean Kelly, Raul Alcala and Sean Yates were all pretty high on my list back then.

It seems to the outside geek like me, that you gained respect with the Euro-pro riders fairly quickly and gained something of a reputation as a "hard man", especially in the harder one day races. Did you feel that then? Was that something that you ever noticed at all, or was it just what those of us back home felt for you?

I tried not to get pushed around and perhaps being larger helped cement that reputation. I only got into a few fist fights but they were all really fun. Nobody seemed to begrudge me for my place in the peleton, so maybe there was something to it.

What was your best day ever racing?

Wow. Whew. Golly. Man o man. My best day ever – that’s a hard one. Golly. Awww. Probably the 1986 Paris-Roubaix when I was the only finisher from the team and the expectation was that none of us would finish. (laughs) It was very satisfying to be in the mix with the big boys when nobody thought it was possible.

What was your best day ever just riding for fun?

Probably the day John Tomac and I did a 12 hour epic in the Rocky Mountains on the mountain bikes.

Random bike nerd stuff…

Bob- You and I have a common friend/ acquaintance in Chris DiStefano (formerly the mouthpiece for Shimano and now the mouthpiece for King Cycle Group). Chris claims you still owe him $20.00- is this true? Also, he specifically wanted me to ask you if you thought you could beat him in a fist fight- yes or no?

I do owe Chris $20 because he bet me that the capitol of Montana was Helena and I thought it was Missoula. It was confirmed by my daughter, Ruby, that EVERYONE knows that Helena is the capitol of Montana. As far as fist fighting, I’m a lover not a fighter. (Are you happy now, CD?- Masiguy)

Jessi- Why BK or CBK/QBK? What gives?

BK stands for Bitch Kittie. Bob coined me Chief Bitch Kittie of BobkeInk and commonly refers to me as QBK – Queen Bitch Kittie. Obviously he is a very smart man. A girlfriend of mine coined that phrase. It’s for a girl who’s got the attitude and uses it appropriately. People don’t mess with her. Appropriately fitting, don’t you think, Tim? (Do I have to answer this? Masiguy) It came up in conversation with Bob once in the beginning and he just went with it. You know you’re in trouble when the phrase “Want me to let the kittie outta the bag?” comes into play.

Both- How did you two end up working together? Who hired who? Judging by personalities, it could be open for debate…

B: That’s a good observation. We were both unsatisfied with our working conditions and figured that we could make it better by working together.
J: Uh, that and a few cocktails. It works pretty well. He’s the boss and I’m in charge. I guess we didn’t answer that question. The interview on covers this pretty well.

Bob- What was with the sideburns/ ham chops? You know which ones I'm talking about too, so don't play coy… did the network "make" you shave them off?

The network did not make me shave them off. I actually was in my best friend Ivan’s wedding and shaved for that. However, in the meantime the network has said I am not allowed to grow them back.

Bob- Jessi says lots of things that I am sure border on "questionable", but she says that you are a fan of old Masi bikes. A) Is this true? 2) What is the favorite bike you ever owned/ rode and what is your current favorite?

Absolutely. Love the old Masis. No question about that. I love the California Masis too.
Oh man, my favorite bike to ride was the Eddie Merckx Motorola team bike. My current favorite is the Trek LiveStrong bike I have hanging in my house.

Jessi- As a non-lifetime bike nerd, what do you think of suddenly being thrust into a world full of bike nerds? What does your husband, the bike nerd, think of your employer? Good, bad, indifferent?

I have really been welcomed into the bike world by a great group of people. (Thanks Donna!) I have met people from all over the country and seen places I’d never been, so that is really cool. I came from the construction business and the bartending life, so this is good. It’s all a little more laid back and a hell of a lot more fun. My husband is VERY supportive of what I do and is great with the kids when I travel. He is proud of how far Bob and I have taken this and really likes what he sees down the road for us. It’s amazing to me that I have a job that I love so much I sometimes feel guilty calling it a job.

Both- What do you think of blogging? I notice you have a blog on the Bobke site, but you are obviously busy enough that regular posting is kind of hard to do. Do you feel a need to blog, a desire to blog or is it just a feature of the site? Would you ever begin to call yourself a blogger?

B: I would be a “Blobber” not a blogger, but you never know. The future is so bright, we should all be wearing shades.
J: That was lame, Bob. Blogging is good. I rather like commenting on what other people are saying and seeing so many schools of thought on one topic in one space. We are discussing some changes in our website and the Blog-ke will then be easier than ever for me, so I think I will enjoy it more.

Bob- Does Eddy Merckx scare you? Does standing next to him make you feel totally unworthy, like it does to me? (I stood in line in Vegas for his autograph, again, last year and after getting his autograph 5 or 6 times over the years, I still felt like kissing his shoes or something.)

Not really. He’s a great guy. I did marvel over the fact that he knows who I am.

Bob- Best thing to ever happen to the sport of cycling? Worst thing?

The best thing was Lance Armstrong winning the Tour after winning his battle with cancer. The worst would have to be the Festina Doping Scandal of 98.

Both- Why do you think that Masi Bicycles are the best bikes in the entire world? Be honest, you're among friends here…

Jessi: Send us a size 60 and a 54 and we’ll get right on that. (Thanks Tim, you are the greatest bike nerd ever!)

Thanks again to both Bob and Jessi. I am still shocked that my incessant begging paid off finally (unlike when I was a teenager...). Rumor has it that Las Vegas and Interbike will be the next meeting place... face to face. Look out for a potential podcast interview; beer-fueled of course.