Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not dead, just busy...

Sorry for the drop in posts and podcasts and vidcasts... it's been a very hectic December/ January time period. Lots happening. Finally finished the copy for the Spring '08 catalog that will be done and printed in March. Just going over the final tweaks of spec information and assessing the last photo needs. All of the Spring sample bikes are done and in our hot little hands. My Product Manager, Wayne Doran, scrambled and managed to get the samples delivered to us and built... so at least we'll have pretty pictures of pretty bikes in the catalog. Also have to work up a PowerPoint presentation for a very important retailer training camp next week out in Boulder City NV... but the good news is that I get 4 days of riding in warm, dry weather in Nevada. Bonus!

Tomorrow is Thursday and already this week is a total blur. Hard to believe I came off of a 4 day weekend because I'm already wiped out... though that could have something to do with the cold I'm still fighting off. Hopefully I can get healthy by Sunday, as one of my all-time favorite crits is this weekend. I don't think I've ever finished out of the top 10 on this course and I've won once and been on the podium a few times, so I have a soft spot for this course. If my head clears up from this cold enough (and I can get my sister or mother to watch my daughter for a couple hours), I'm gonna try to get in the race and mix things up. The last time I did the race was two years ago- and it was won by '84 Olympic gold medalist Steve Hegg. I was 8th that day and I would argue that I have better legs this year. So we'll see.

Ok, I have a lot of work to do tomorrow and need to get a little sleep... so good night folks!


Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Bitch Kittie!

My adopted li'l sister, the infamous Bitch Kittie/ BK/ Cub Reporter/ Cubbie, has gotten older today. Like any brother, I have no idea exactly how old she actually is... just younger than me.

So join me in wishing my li'l sis a very Happy Birthday (a little late in the day... but still technically ON her birthday... typical brother).

Love ya' kiddo.

Your dumbass brother.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Another day in paradise...

Today, after all the rain of the past few days, was a beautiful day. It was still windy, but not as bad as yesterday. Most importantly though, the rains had done their usual magic and washed the skies clean and clear for that impossible blue sky and wonderful clarity that we really only get here after a rain.

It's official- I've got a cold during my little "vacation". However, I haven't let it completely steal away my riding. Today I went for a shorter 1hr 45min ride on my Speciale Fixed. I spent much of the morning actually "working", answering emails and working from the "virtual office". By just before 11:00, I was finally out on the road for a steel-fueled blissful ride.

Here's a view from the end of Point Loma, near Cabrillo National Monument. This overlooks the ocean on one side and the San Diego Bay on the other. This is looking towards the city, from the opening of the bay and the edge of the ocean. Downtown San Diego is down in the middle.

Point Loma is also home to the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

I visited my grandparents today. I stop by now and again and say hello and tell them that I love and miss them. They were great, great people who taught me a lot about life.

Both of my grandfathers were veterans of WWII and both taught me a great deal of respect for the military. Agree with current national policies or not, hate the war or not, we all owe every man and woman in uniform a huge debt. They protect our rights to be a Democrat, Republican, Independent or non-voter. If it wasn't for the sacrifices of the men like my grandfathers, I would not have had the privilege of registering to vote as a Communist when I was 18. I would never have been able to so blatantly and angrily argue with the system of this country. I would never have been so free that I could take freedom for granted each day- none of us would. Each time I visit my grandparents and I see that sea of white grave markers, I get pretty choked up by the magnitude of the prices that have been paid for our freedoms.

Here's another shot of the bay and downtown... obscured by my fat head. Speaking of fat, for those keeping score and playing the home game, I am hovering right at 200-201 today. I knew the 199 was going to go away after I got some dinner and some fluids replaced.

My legs were feeling pretty worked over from yesterday, but they turned the cranks over reasonably well up all the hills to Cabrillo. The ride down the main hill was pretty fun- the 46x16 gear was suddenly feeling mighty small as my legs became a blur on the way down. At one point, I was going a little over 40mph and was passing cars obeying the speed limit. I flew by one woman who was driving along, not expecting to be passed by some 6'3" cyclist with legs spinning at an obscene cadence, weaving between slower cars- the look on her face was totally priceless... and it looked like she dropped her soda in her lap.

I'll probably take the ride tomorrow kinda easy and try not to flog myself too hard. I might even skip riding on Sunday in favor of resting before going back to work on Monday. I'm feeling mighty congested at the moment, though my lungs feel and sound clear still. So far it's all in my sinuses, but I want to keep it out of my lungs.

Ok, it's time to drag my tired, sniffling, congested carcass to bed and get some rest.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

BLC comment follow-up...

My recent post about my experiences at the BLC has produced some great comments and I wanted to bring them to the front here and answer them directly because there are some great talking points here.

Anonymous KY said...

Amen brother.

9:03 PM

Right back atcha, brother. It was great to see you and spend more time with you.

Blogger Fritz said...

Wow, it sounds like it went well. The lack of transparency in the bike biz is interesting. The 90s buzzword in the computer industry was "coopetition" -- cooperation with competition at the same time, and that's the world I'm accustomed to.

I'm glad you're stoked about this all .

12:35 PM

Yeah, it's a weird thing. I was totally floored by Burke's very open discussion, covering dollars that Trek is spending on things. It was a rare thing. We all get so caught up in this struggle to sell more bikes, that things get a little nutty and companies get paranoid and the cooperation goes out the window.

Anonymous Sparke said...

I sat next to Tim during the conference and echo his sentiments to a tee. Ritchey is upping our commitment to advocacy organizations and also respectfully thanks Burke and Trek for stepping up.

Today, it starts with me.


3:13 PM

Steve, thank you for this comment (as I said privately already). We have such an incredible opportunity ahead of us. The world needs the bike industry to help create and foster change around the globe. It sounds big, but little things can add up to big results if we all try. I'm in- who's with me?

Anonymous Rich Kelly said...

Great to spend some time with you at the BLC. Good for the industry to have your passion in play now for the future. I re-upped my commitment to the BPSA marketing/membership committee for a second year.

It was really good to me you in San Diego. Look forward to seeing you at the next industry event...


4:10 PM

Rich, thank you my friend. Thanks too for staying committed and plugged in. I emailed John Nedeau as well and have offered my assistance where he needs it. We can all do little things. It's harder to do big things, but that shouldn't stop us from doing something- even if it seems small.
Blogger Kk said...

Thanks for the reports on this Tim. The tribe is evolving! Great time to be a part of our awesome sport.

7:27 PM

KK- amen sister! It actually IS a great time to be involved in this sport and industry. The wheels of change are actually rolling. I'm going to try and get to the front and take my pull too.
Blogger Donna T. said...

But, Tim...I trust you....

Seriously, though, it's interesting that the study findings are that those in the industry don't trust each other. I find this industry to be the most open to each other (think Interbike - good times with lots of other companies). Want to see no cooperation? Look at the shoe industry...

Also, our customers are very open and transparent through their forum participation and blogging. So...we don't trust each other? Curious finding.

However, what I do know is that we all do need to support the actual act of cycling more often and better. Yes, yes, yes. Support grass roots events. Support safe routes to schools. Support bike rodeos for the kids. Support bike valet programs. Yes, yes, yes. Help to get more people on bikes by making it easier for them to be on bikes. Agreed.

I see that SRAM takes this all to heart. Did you see about their huge advocacy donations? Bravo!

So, Tim...let's collaborate to do our small part to move the industry forward. I'm open to ideas...

11:51 AM

DMT, I believe the bulk of this lack of cooperation exists primarily among the bike companies. I have a feeling it is much less prevalent among other types of companies. The researchers were astounded by their findings- it was the worst they'd ever encountered. Whoa.

I'm with you on the different types of advocacy we can all do. As Jill Hamilton said a long time ago- it can be as simple as offering help to a new rider and keeping them involved and excited about the sport so that they can go out and bring in more people to keep the love alive.

SRAM is doing some amazing things. They put their money where their mouths are too. On top of that, they had a whole bunch of people there at the conference. They "get it"... big time. I was very happy to see that Shimano is big into the issues as well- Kozo Shimano was there, as was the head of Shimano USA, Penina Bush (who is really a very, very nice woman and I was happy to get to chat with her there).

Blogger kind1 said...

I love the call for more advocacy but I sometimes wonder what is the underlying motivation. We all know more bikes will help the world but the message always comes down to "selling more bikes" and that leaves me a little jaded. Interested in what your thoughts are.

What surprised me the most about the conference is that our industry needed an outside voice to tell us that we suffer from SKU proliferation and that the casual rider feels intimidated when shopping for a bike.

This message seems to get repeated over and over again but to this point has not been addressed by any of the big players in a meaningful way.

Hopefully enough people start to act on both of these messages and we start to turn the ship around.

2:58 PM

You are totally right- the retail experience for many new riders is one that has been less than perfect for many years. That's not to say there aren't any good shops out there, but there are many that just aren't geared towards new riders. The culture of bike retail has been one of enthusiasts selling to enthusiasts for decades. It is slowly coming around and becoming more like other retail experiences. It won't happen over night, or even in a couple years... but we're getting closer and there are many people behind it all.

SKU proliferation is a double-edged sword though. I honestly can't tell you the number of times I've been told "you have too many bikes!" Only to be told later, "what happened to the ___ bike? I needed that! What were you thinking?" Brands are all scared to lose a sale because a consumer found the bike they wanted elsewhere in another brand. Due to that, we all try to have a bike for every rider. I'm not saying it's a perfect system at all, but it's how we got to this point.

As for the saving-the-world-to-sell-more-bikes dilemma... well, yes, it's true. An idealistic altruism doesn't do you much good if you can't sell more bikes and then have the means to do more good things. In the end, we all have to sell our widgets to keep the lights on (high efficiency ones hopefully). The hearts and minds are in it for the right reasons, so getting a few more sales out of doing good isn't bad.

Thanks again for the comments and the dialog. Let's hope all of this nets the results we all hope it will.


Time off!

Man, it's great to take a few days off from work. Don't get me wrong, you all know how much I love my job, but I NEED a few days off. All work, no play, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Woke up this morning with a sore throat and a runny nose... and it was raining still, but not dumping the high speed, sideways stuff like last night. Still, it was not the best start to a four day weekend. I mean, just because I'm not doing that 3-day stage race I was talking about, it didn't mean I wanted to get sick and stay in bed for 4 days.

Eventually the rain stopped long enough for the roads to dry off and the temperature to get a bit warmer, so I slipped into my Super Suit and went out for a nice 2hr 45min ride along the coast. It was cold and windier than heck- sustained winds of 20+mph and gusts well over that. I was getting blown around pretty good at times, but the ride North was super fast with the tailwind. Sadly, that meant that the ride South back to home was dreadful. The wind was really tough, especially with legs that were fading. But I soldiered on and even went out of my way to find a couple extra hills to climb on the way. All in all, it was a great ride. My legs felt far better than I figured they would, since I've ridden so little in the past few weeks. I rode my cross bike at work yesterday for about 45 minutes and was tired after that, so I had little expectation for my legs.

Best news of the day though; after my ride I weighed myself and I'm down to a scant 199lbs. People, I haven't been under 200+ lbs in about 10 years. That's amazing to me. Sure, it isn't like it's all muscle, but it's less fat than it used to be! I'd be happy to weigh 215 if I could keep it under 10% body fat, but for now I'm gonna stay happy with 199... even though now that I've had dinner and have been replacing my fluids I'm probably back to 201. Small details. Made myself a nice turkey sandwich and a salad for dinner though... just in case.

Going to try to get to bed earlier tonight so I can get some good rest to fight off this cold. Slamming lots of multi vitamins and drinking lots of water. I ran out of Wellness Formula and Airborne, so I'm just taking my multi vitamin for now. Hopefully a good diet, some rest and lots of water will do the job.

Ok... bye for now.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Masiguy Podcast, etc

Ok, so Episode #6 of the Masiguy Podcast is up and ready for your entertainment and bemusement... sorry.

It's pouring rain here tonight- a true frog strangler. It's coming down sideways and in sheets. Great! Tomorrow I start a 4 day break from work and some much needed rest... and it is supposed to rain the entire time... AND I've gotten a cold. Argh! Looks like I might be spending the entire time indoors- at least I can go to the gym and get some inside chores done. Great...


Monday, January 21, 2008

BLC and a plea to my industry friends;

The weekend's BLC conference was amazing. I have never been before and, like my trip to DC last March for the National Bike Summit, I came away energized and wanting to do more for the industry. You can expect to hear more about this from me in the coming months and years. I left DC last year full of ideas and desire to make a difference and to help enact change... but life caught up with me and time vanished. I am sure some of my drive and desire this time will suffer the same fate, but I am going to make more of an effort to help drive the cycling industry forward on the important goal of advocacy and developing more and safer infrastructure for all cyclists. It is clear to me that we, the cycling industry, can and should do more to support advocacy issues and that we need a far greater level of cooperation between all players in the industry. Two very smart women, Nicole DeHoratius and Robbie Kellman Baxter, were hired as outside researchers to evaluate many things about the industry. One of the major things they learned was that there is an insane level of paranoia and distrust among members/ companies in the industry. Of all the industries they have worked in, they have never seen such a level of distrust and unwillingness to either comment on the record or share information/ data about their businesses. That really hit me hard as I thought about the challenges facing my beloved bike industry. Without a greater level of cooperation and a willingness to share and collect some quantifiable data, the industry is doomed to failure and further erosion of sales growth.

I am a very small person within the cycling industry- I just happen to be one of the more loudmouthed. My realm of influence is pretty microscopic, but I can't sit complacently and watch things deteriorate further. I am making a plea to all of my like-minded brothers and sisters in the industry, from retailer to manufacturer, to get involved, share your data with the BPSA and drop the paranoia and let's all work to grow this industry to a higher level of profitability and overall health by applying our efforts to increased advocacy. I am making a pledge to do my part- however small- to meet that goal. I will be offering whatever help I can to John Nedeau and the BPSA. I will be getting my hands dirty with advocacy issues. I will be talking about important issues and will be advocating for change. I'm going to do my best to have my actions support my words. If I don't, I have no reason to hope to have an industry to work in 10, 20, 25 years from now.

I happen to know that many people within the cycling industry read this silly blog and I am hoping that they will read these words and let a few of them sink in. Without better cooperation among brands and a willingness to do the hard work ahead and dedicate resources to building a better future, we can all kiss this business good-bye. Personally, I want to stay in this business for many more years. Hopefully you will too.

Don't hesitate- get involved, volunteer, make a difference.

John Burke, President/ CEO of Trek Bicycle Company gave an incredible presentation and "opened the kimono" on his business to a room full of "competitors" in an effort to provoke change. Do I see eye to eye with John or Trek all the time? Hell no. But he was absolutely correct in his plea to get others in the industry involved in working towards a better cycling industry and a better world at large. It was one of the best presentations I've sat through in years and I'm glad I was at the BLC to see and hear it. Trek has launched a program called One World, Two Wheels. I recommend that you check it out. I am forced to give John and Trek a big round of applause for the work they've begun with this program. It's pretty impressive and very ambitious. But we have to start somewhere and why not aim high?

The bike industry has been my home for the better part of 26 years now. It's all I really know. It's certainly the one thing I have loved the longest in my life and it has, in turn, been pretty good to me. It's my turn (and all of our turns) to give a little something back. So I hope you, my fellow industry members, will join me and get more involved. I know I have a lot to learn from this process and hopefully I can contribute something to the ultimate greater good of the planet, the people who live on it and the bike industry too.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yep, still busy... BLC begins

Sorry for the recent drop in posting. It's been super busy, as I mentioned the other day, and there has been a ton of activity.

Last night was the beginning of the BLC conference. Jill Hamilton and I are the sole representatives at the conference for Haro/ Masi, so we were there last night for the opening reception and conversations. We had a great representative from the Canadian ski industry and Whistler Canada give the opening talk about how the ski industry revived flat/ falling sales. Not surprisingly, it involved a lot of growth investment and reaching out to new skiers. The bike industry has a lot of similarities and needs to pay attention to this- I'll have more details later on that.

I need to grab a shower and head to the conference for Day 2. I have no idea if there is any wi-fi at the conference, so I'm not sure if my laptop will do me any good- but I'm taking it anyway. Since I'm in a hurry to get my coffee in me and get cleaned up, thought I'd just post this very cool link to the Commute By Bike website (owned and operated by my very good friend Tim Grahl)- it's an "interview" video that I did with Tim, Tim Parr of Swobo and Brad Quartuccio, editor of Urban Velo. It's fun to watch and is on the topic of advocacy, so it is relevant to my goals the next two days.

Enjoy your weekend,


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Return of the Conversation

Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to participate in an incredible multi-author book project. The Book was titled The Age of Conversation and was written by 100 very bright people and myself. It was an honor to be a part of the project. Best of all, the book was dedicated to the loving memory of the mother of a very good friend of ours and the proceeds from the sale of the book went to Variety- The Children's Charity.

The book was one of those projects that comes along once in your lifetime and when that chance shows up on your doorstep, you have no logical choice but to join the project. Well, that "once in a lifetime" project is back again! Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton, the two insane masterminds behind the first book, have launched a second book project.

Go on over to Drew's site and read this post for more details and vote for the topic of conversation you would most like to read about. You can bet your arse it's going to be a stellar read again. In spite of the chapter I wrote last time, the book was an amazing read and well worth the purchase. Maybe you even want to become an author- it's possible. I'm hoping I get lucky enough to be a contributor again... I'm hoping that the selection criteria remains as loose as last year... or I'm sunk.

In all sincerity, the project was an amazing gift to get to be a part of and I look forward to participating and supporting the project again. And I hope you'll support it as well.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Busier than a one-armed paper hanger...

As is somewhat customary of me to proclaim, I find myself "busier than a one-armed paper hanger"... as my father would say... but with a stronger Alabama accent than I have anymore.

I got back in to San Diego late afternoon Saturday, around 5:00PM, and was reasonably useless the rest of the day. Sunday I was up early, though still pretty worthless, and then got my daughter around 2:00PM and my son a few hours later. Since then, I have been running at pretty much full speed- and then some. We have a major set of meetings Monday and Tuesday of next week and I am now feverishly working on a PowerPoint presentation for those meetings (have I ever mentioned my desire to choke the creator of PowerPoint?). Thing is, Friday is also the first day of the Bicycle Leadership Conference (BLC) and I will be attending all three days of the BLC, along with Haro MTB Brand Manager Jill Hamilton. AND I have a meeting on Friday (that I may have to skip) with my good friend Kendall Young from Ritchey Components. Saturday and Sunday will be consumed by the conference and then Monday and Tuesday we have the important internal meetings. All the while, I still need to wrap up and finish the Spring '08 catalog copy. The icing on the cake is that this is my week with the kids and I am going to have to shuffle them off to family members for a few days. AND... I'm getting a slight cold!

I rode my trainer tonight for about 45-50 minutes, for my first ride since the 4th of this month. Not surprisingly, I felt stiff and sore and had no lung power. But, the legs themselves did not feel all that bad. IF I can manage to hold this cold at bay long enough, I might still make it to the 3-day stage race in Henderson, NV starting next Friday (1/25). I'm not holding my breath because I know how hard it is going to be to stay healthy with all this stress and the lack of training time is going to really put my fitness in question. However... I still really want to go to this race. I haven't done a stage race in years and I really enjoy them. Historically, by day 3, my legs usually feel fantastic. Since the road race is on day 3 and it is very hilly, that might save me from being dropped on the first climb. Day 2's crit might suffer, but I can pretty much do a crit with my eyes closed at this point in my life. The 20K TT on day 1 might be a challenge, but since it is nearly board flat and is almost a straight line, I have a good chance of not losing too much time. We'll see what happens. Fingers are crossed... but I might just take the time off from work and spend the 4 days I would be racing/ traveling just riding and getting some sleep!

Got a bunch of goodies over the past couple days that make it feel like a late Christmas. I will have more on that in the next few days, if my head doesn't explode. Maybe I'll even do a vidcast instead of a blog post- been awhile since I've done one. Stay tuned...

Ok kids, I'm going to bed before my feeble brain finally cracks.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Masiguy Podcast #5!

Episode #5 is ready for your listening amusement and bewilderment... sorry in advance...


Jetlag, schmetlag...

If it wasn't for caffeine, I think I would cease to exist this week. Thank God for Juan Valdez and his legion of coffee bean carrying mules. If it weren't for the brown brewed gold, I'd be a dead man this week. But I digress...

So I owe you all some more Taiwan follow-up and pictures. I'm also going to try and create a Flickr gallery of images as well. That may take me a little longer though because I want to get a few more podcasts done also and put up more video stuff. There's lots to talk about, so let's get going...

I have a soft spot for the machines that create bikes. Sure it may not be as romantic an idea as some sweaty person toiling away over each and every detail, but in some cases it's even better- thanks to the precision of the work. However, my fascination has always been with the machines that do some of the more mundane things. I always spend a little time around the wheelbuilding machines. They just fascinate me. There are many types and they range from very precise machines to less precise machines. This one is somewhere in the middle- it's truing up a hand laced BMX wheel that will go on to be hand checked;

It's pretty cool to me at least... but I'm kinda simple like that.

We took the high speed train back and forth between the airport in Taipei and the hotel in Taichung;

It was cool.

Here we have a very happy Brand Manager standing by a container filled with SoulVille bikes headed off to the Ohio warehouse (so go start placing your orders now if you're on the East coast).

I really was happier than I look... I promise. FYI- The SoulVille is currently the best selling bike in the entire Masi line for this season. I had faith in the bike, but never would have guessed sales would be this good. So, thank you for your support of the bike.

A beautiful sunrise...

A beautiful park in Taichung on the night of a beautiful dinner...

The long awaited and much anticipated SoulVille Mixte step-through frame...

Mood lighting in an incredibly beautiful restaurant on an incredible night...

Two very happy Product Managers soaking up the reward of their efforts...

Incredible beauty...

All mine! (And eventually yours...)

You'll have to wait for more... so keep on coming back.


Saturday, January 12, 2008


Made it home.

Super tired.

Need some sleep.

Will update later.

Good night.


The waiting game...

In the US now, but waiting a few more hours for my flight home from LA. Ugh... I just wish I could sleep in the airport. It's nearly 10:00PM back in Taiwan, so my body is trying to tell me it is time for bed. By Friday, I was finally feeling totally normal in Taiwan... which does me SO much good now.

Our flight from Taipei to Tokyo, for all 4 of us, was awesome because we got upgraded to Business class! Sweet! Leg room to spare and much better food and wines... now I'm spoiled for sure. However, on the flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles, only Wayne and I got the luck of the draw and received a random upgrade to Business again. I felt bad for Pat and Jill... but not bad enough to sacrifice my free upgrade! For the first time in years, I actually slept on my flight home. It helps when the seat reclines nearly totally flat. Oh man, it was great and I am totally spoiled. Totally.

Thanks again for following along and reading the blog and listening to the podcast. Wish it all coulda been "stronger", but the trip was busy enough that it was hard to do what little I was able to do.

I'll follow up over the next few days with more detailed posts about all kinds of things... I promise.


Time to go...

Just finished showering and packing my luggage. Got a few more minutes before it's time to head downstairs and check out. It's been a great trip and I certainly have the usual melancholy about leaving. I miss my kids though, so I have plenty to look forward to when I get home... but I do truly enjoy my time in Taiwan.

Had a great time at the Year End party last night. It was, for a Westerner, very entertaining. The food was a great mix of "can't do it" and "wow, that's good". My companions were even better than the food though- Ann and Lisa from my frame supplier, Caribou. They make our "dreams" (the frame ideas) into reality and into the great bikes we sell.

Well kids, it's time for me to shut down the Taichung office and get ready for the grueling trip home. Hope you all have a great weekend (it's Saturday morning here and Friday afternoon/ evening in the US).

Bye for now,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Masiguy Podcast #4- Live from Taichung

Ok people, podcast #4 is now posted. It's less than 15 minutes. I'll have a longer and more detailed podcast when I return to the states. Leaving tomorrow morning, so I'll be back in the US late Saturday afternoon. LONG day tomorrow...


Almost done...

Meetings are almost done. Have two meetings left and then I'm done for this trip. Hard to believe the week is almost over already. What a fast week.

Will be back in March for the Taipei show. Then I won't likely need to come back until late summer or later... I think.

This has been another great trip and I am very thankful for my time over here. Will have more pictures and more stories soon, but now it is time for more meetings.

Still going to try to do a podcast this evening, but we'll see if I can pull it off. No promises, other than a promise to try.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Your moment of Zen..."


Spy shots...

My new personal brakes... amazing light and very, very smooth action.

7005 series aluminum track cog (16t for those who need to know). Super, super light. I am curious to see how well it holds up before the teeth get really worn or sheer off. The tooth profile is really stout and the cog is reinforced around the area where the chain contacts it. It just might work... so I will let you know. I promised the vendor I would give him real world feedback.

The brakes and the cog are made by the same person. He is very passionate about his work and his products. I can relate to that. We hit it off pretty well and I am very happy to have met him and seen his various products. One of the highlights of the trip so far.

Ok, gotta run downstairs to the taxi.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Another whirlwind...

It has been another whirlwind adventure here. We spent the day running from one factory to the next all day. Only saw four vendors, but they were on opposite sides of Taichung, so we had to drive all over the place. First visit was with a component maker, the next visit was brake maker, the next visit was a steel frame/ fork vendor and the last visit was with a crank and small parts vendor. It was a busy day again. Didn't get the chance to take too many pictures today though. Sorry.

Truly feeling the jetlag today too, but in that weird dopey-feeling way. It's almost like taking a sleeping pill and waking up too soon, before it is totally worn off. Just feeling like I'm a little bit of a haze... and not because of the beer this time.

Leaving for dinner in a little bit with a friend of mine from one of my frame vendors. Supposed to be a good meal too, so I'm excited. Kinda hungry tonight, so I'm looking forward to this meal! Last year, they took us to a great "hot pot" restaurant, so I have high hopes for dinner tonight.

Ok kids, gotta run. I swear I'm still gonna try to do a podcast while I am here as well as post a video or two. Got a good video of a wheel building machine that's kinda cool. Ok... talk at ya' later.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Taichung- 7:00AM

Here's the view from my hotel window this time; facing... I think East... I think...

It's foggy this morning. Very warm- in the 70's- and humid. Should be a beautiful day.

Will have more pictures later and will try to post a few videos (if the connection at the hotel can handle it) and will also try to record a podcast... but I have dinner tonight with Stella of Velo. Velo is THE saddle maker in Taiwan and makes the best OEM saddles around, in my opinion. I have several Velo saddles on my bikes and many of them rival my more expensive fi'zi:k saddles... I have to confess. They even have a high-end brand called Prologo that makes awesome saddles as well. I have a couple of those too and love them. Thing is, Stella is internationally famous for her ability drink nearly any person alive under the table- all of this while being less than 5' tall herself. Dinners can be very painful- the next day. BUT... Stella is also, hands down, one of my very favorite people in the cycling world. So I'm really looking forward to dinner tonight, if we still have one planned.

Gotta run for now. I'll have the details of our epic journey here- it was anything but easy, believe me.

Off to see some factories.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Made it!

What a nightmare! We made it, by the skin of our teeth... but we made it.

I overslept through my alarms... and then rushed to pick up my product manager (Wayne Doran)... and then rushed to the airport... then we were delayed in LAX... then we were delayed in San Fransisco (just barely making the flight from LAX)... and then we just barely made the last train from Taipei to Taichung... it was just a total mess. But we're here!

I will try to get pictures, video and a podcast done tomorrow or the following day. But now... it's time for sleep!

Hello/goodnight/ good morning from Taichung!


Friday, January 04, 2008

Taiwan time...

I'm debating whether or not to even go to bed tonight, since I have to get up for my flight around 3:00- 3:30 tomorrow morning. If I just stay up, then by the time I board the flight from San Francisco to Taipei, I'll be so exhausted I'll have to be able to sleep on the plane (I can barely ever get any sleep on a plane). It might help me to reset my internal clock as well so that the jetlag is not as bad. BUT... if it doesn't work and I still don't sleep, I'm going to be one whacked-out nutjob by the time I get to Taiwan. Plus... my eyes are already crossing because my insomnia was raging last night and I got almost no sleep. As I'm already in a sleep deficit, I don't want to send myself into a coma or some kind of walking narcoleptic episode.

Had a great day with my daughter today. Her school was still closed this week for holiday break. I took the day off to spend some more time with her before I head off for a week. We didn't do much, but we just hung out. Played some cards (she loves Go Fish), went to the YMCA (one last workout for the week), did a little shopping, had some lunch and then wrapped it up with dinner for two at a local Chinese restaurant... how ironic. It was a great day and I'm glad I wasn't able to find her a sitter for the day after all... it was the perfect way to get ready for a week away from home.

Probably won't hear from me again until I get to Taiwan- unless I can get a decent wireless signal in the airport for a change. I promise I'll do my best to get good pictures, a bit of video and do some podcasting and whatnot. Promise.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Podcast #3 is now ready!

I recorded and posted the 3rd episode of the Masiguy Podcast this evening... so if you have a spare 22 minutes and 27 seconds, you should go give it a listen.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Leaving again soon...

Saturday morning, before the sun comes up, I'll be driving to the airport for my 4th trip to Taiwan in the past 12 months. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining at all because I enjoy Taiwan. It's just amazing to think about the amount of traveling that I have been doing lately. I'll be back in Taiwan again in March too and probably again after that during this calendar year. Honestly, I could easily see being over there for a week every other month. Scary.

I'm going to try and get some good video while I am over in Taichung and try to do a few podcasts as well. The internet service at the hotel is sometimes a bit sketchy, so I may or may not be able to get the podcasts or videos to upload- it can sometimes take several minutes to just upload a single photo to the blog. Still, I'm going to give it a try and see what happens. Float your requests to me now and I will try to cover them. I'll try to get some video of some of the factory stuff, if they'll let me- not everybody wants you filming their factory operations. That said, I'll still try... anything for you, my faithful readers/ listeners/ viewers.

We're flying in to Taipei, as always, but we are skipping the usual 2 hour drive to Taichung in favor of taking the recently completed high speed train. The drive is normally 2 hours, but the train ride is less than an hour! I'm very excited, as I've never ridden a high speed train before. Should be cool- I'll try to get video and maybe even record some audio for the podcast. We'll have to see...

On an unrelated topic, my legs felt much better today than I thought they would. After the climbing I did yesterday, I assumed my legs would feel like wood today. However, they did not! I did my customary ride at lunch today and my legs felt far better than I expected. They didn't feel great, but they didn't feel like I had ridden as hard as I did yesterday either. That hopefully means good things for this new race season. I want to win some races this year!

That's all I've got for today... but I'll have more tomorrow and maybe even another episode of the podcast too. So stay tuned...


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I survived... barely...

Oh man, I am beat! Did my wonderful epic ride today with my friends from B&L Bike and Sport. We rode from Lake Wohlford to the top of Palomar Mountain- the climb, from the base, is 12 miles of non-stop climbing... no resting... no flat sections and no downhills along the way, just pure climbing. It was brutally magnificent!

The day began at lake Wohlford for a 9:00AM roll out. Everybody arrived looking like they had been pretty good on New Year's Eve, though there were a few grumblings to the contrary.

The weather began much warmer than expected- in the high 60's, low 70's maybe- but we all took off with the warm gear on, knowing what would be ahead in the winds and on the mountain.
The winds... were supposed to be gusting up to 30mph, but we got winds in excess of 50! Winds so strong that I had to lean into the wind like I was cornering, just to keep from being blown off the bike! ME! All 210 pounds! The gusts were sending sand, dirt and debris at us with amazing force. Riding through the Rincon Valley area, I gave thought to turning back and heading to the car because the winds were just insanely strong. Once we got to the base of the climb though, it began to get better because of some tree coverage to help block the winds.

Before coming out of the valley, a group of 3 of us rolled off the front- not by intent, but largely by gravity... there was a downhill that worked to my advantage. By the time we made the turn off to the climb, we had a pretty healthy gap. After a few miles of the early, mellow slopes of the climb, one rider dropped off (to wait for the others) and a new one joined on. Now we were three again, with the other two both being buddies and former teammates of mine from when I raced for Excel Sports/ Boulder- Steve Bates and Cliff Clermont. It was like a mini reunion... until they dropped me... just like they did when we were teammates.

I slogged away on the first major section of the climb, alone, through the switchbacks on the wider roads. At the halfway point, where the road split in two directions, I had to stop and wait for a few minutes (maybe 5) because I didn't know which way I was supposed to go- it has been at least 3- 4 years since I've done the climb. Two other riders rolled up and I went with them. One of the two happened to be Brent Prenzlow, who is one of the top elite cross racers in the US. He pretty much rules the Southern California cross scene and raced for the Alan factory team this year. Needless to say, I was once again outclassed. I rolled with Brent and the other rider, Mark, for a few more miles before they finally dropped me at about 3000 feet.

Again, solo, I slogged along... mostly in my 39x23 and 39x26... slowly. Just at 4000', I rounded a bend onto the exposed face of the mountain road and into the howling wind again. This punch in the gut from the wind was incredibly demoralizing! It wasn't long after that turn that I began to consider turning back and going down the mountain. It was that bad. The switchbacks of the climb just kept getting steeper and the wind just howled. It was excruciating. The summit road is located around 5500' (roughly).

There was a slight bit of snow still left on the ground- mostly dirty snow in the shady areas. But it was snow, darn it! I know, I know... it ain't much snow... but it's what we get around here and the kids were happy to be playing in it, as they climbed out of family cars.

The reward for the climb was a piping hot bowl of the best vegetarian chili around! Along with some hot coffee and a Coke.

The other reward was a screaming 12 mile long descent! I rode the first few turns at the top really poorly. I was not riding the usual way I do on a descent. Not sure if I had something on the rims or just dirty pads from the ride up... but my braking wasn't too predictable and I was far "looser" on those first few switchbacks than I like and I was "timid" getting started. Later though, when the road opened up a little bit, I uncorked some of my speed! Elliot and Anthony (I think... sorry) got way up the road from me early on the descent, but just before the final turn off at the bottom, I caught them! It was awesome! It was such a fun chase.

At the bottom, another rider who joined us, Hubert, had parked his truck and I caught a ride to the starting point with him. My back was in spasm from the climbing and then the descent... and I was just plain beat! I admit it. So my ride today was around 50 miles, I'd guess. But it was awesome.

Thanks again to the guys from B&L, especially Jeff- who invited me on the ride for the third year in a row. It's the fifth time they've done this New Year's Day ride and I hope to be on it every year I'm in town. It was much fun. I climbed far better than I thought I would, even with the near-total meltdown near the top. I was amazed that I didn't get caught... I'm no Pantani. That's for sure!

I hope all of you got to get out for a ride or some other form of fun for the beginning of the new year. Here's to many, many more epic rides!


First post of '08!

Beautiful morning- sun is shining, it's a bit "chilly" (by SoCal standards) and I don't have a hangover (not that I should)... so it's perfect weather to ride!

Heading out the door in a few minutes for that first ride of the new year. It's supposed to be pretty darned windy on/ near the mountain with gusts up to 45mph and it's cold- might've even gotten some snow up top over night. BUT I'm still dragging my fat, sprinter caboose up the thing! Will try to get pictures... between gasps for air.

Happy New Year!

(Go listen tot the podcast from last night, if you haven't already.)