Saturday, September 22, 2007

Here's to 10K!

Wow, looks like I just broke 10,000 hits to my blog! I honestly never thought I'd ever get that many people want to read my bike biz blah blah blah. So,my dear readers...thanks!

I'm off to Interbike tomorrow morning. First stop will be the On Dirt Demo for 2 days and then off to work the show for the rest of the week. I'll do my best to post some reports when I can. If you're attending the show, safe travels. And please stop by to say hi!

Happy trails, ya'll!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The 650B Experiment

For the past couple of months, I have been exchanging e-mails with Kirk Pacenti about 650B wheels. Kirk, who makes some of the nicest lugs on the planet that are used by some of the world's best frame makers, has been a driving force behind the 650B movement and has been a great source of information.

Based on Haro's success in the 29" wheel market with our line of "Mary" steel hardtails and the fact that 29ers just ride so damn nice, I was naturally intrigued by the whole concept behind 650B wheels. With 650B wheels measuring 27.5" in diameter, they are halfway between a 26" wheel and a 29" wheel.

From a manufacturer's standpoint, the real advantage behind this "tweener" size is you can run a 650B wheel on a 26" wheel bike with very few modifications to the frame itself. 29" wheel frames require a whole new drawing with revised geometry to accomodate the larger wheel size. And then there's the tooling costs associated with a new frame design.

From a rider's standpoint, I was really curious to see how a set of 650B wheels would ride. I'll admit that I was hugely skepical of 29" wheels (like many people were/still are) until I rode one. After you throw a leg over a 29er, it doesn't take long to realize the obvious benefits that 29" wheels have to offer. However, 29ers do have their pitfalls (not many, but they do exist). They are a little a little harder to get started from a standstill and they don't really excell in really tight technical sections and switchbacks. Would 650B be the solution?

I ordered a couple sets of Neo-Moto tires from Kirk and 2 sets of the new "Blunt" wheels from Velocity. Based on the rim and tire dimensions we got from Kirk, it looked like this tire and wheel combo would work on our 6" travel Werx Xeon all-mountain bikes without any modifications, so we could start testing right away once we received the wheels and tires. It would be close, but at least we would have to wait for sample frames to be made.

Pacenti Neo-Motos on Velocity "Blunt" wheels.

Last week, it all came together. We got 650B wheels and tires. Product Manager Pat Crosby mounted them up to a Werx Xeon and they fit. Tightly, but we have clearance, Clarence. The Fox Talas fork had about 1/4" to spare between the tire and arch. The swingarm yoke is also tight...about a 1/4" there too. The front derailleur clearance is real tight. Better hope I don't pick up a stone in the tire or the FD will be toast.


Even tighter.

Today I decided to do a little test. I took two Werx Xeons out to a local trail that has a little bit of everything on it: climbing, semi-technical descents, switchbacks, flats, etc. One bike had the 650B wheels on it and the other had stock 26" wheels on it. I have to note that although these were both the same model bike, they weren't spec'd identical. One had a Fox Talas while the other had a Fox 32 Float. One was SRAM X.O, the other was new Shimano XT. Both had RockShox Pearl 3.3 rear shocks, which I set up as close to identical as I could.

I took the 650B bike out first. The first part of the trail is an off-camber rolling singletrack section with a few little rocky sections here and there to negotiate. So far, so good. The bike really felt smooth and hopped over the rocky stuff easily. Not much elevation change of any great consequences, but wheels rolled confidently on the small descents and climbs.

As I pedalled along a wide-open flat section, I was amazed at how fast I was going with what seemed like very little effort. Much like a 29er, even though bigger wheels might be a little bit harder to get rolling, once you do get them going, it doesn't require much effort to keep them going at a good clip.

I negotiated a few flat but soft sweeping corners in both directions. The bike felt ultra-stable and the Neo-Moto's hooked up really well. I didn't feel nearly as squirrely as I sometimes do on a 26" wheel bike in these corners.

The true test was going to be the switchback section up ahead. They aren't terribly steep, but they are a bit tight and they tend to be loose from everyone skidding through them on the way back down. On a 26" wheel bike, I rarely have a problem through them, but on my 29er, it's 50/50. Sometimes I clear them without dabbing and other times I'm not so lucky. Today on the 650B bike, I sailed right through them. I'm impressed.

Just up the trail a bit is another uphill switchback I've never been able to clear on a 29er and sometimes I even dab it on a 26" wheel bike. It's a real tight one...almost tighter than 90 degrees with a little wood water bar step right in the apex. Again, sailed right through it on the 650B bike.

After this weird little switchback, there's a fairly steep climb with some loose sections and rocks in it. The tires are hooking up like there's no tomorrow, even in the loose stuff. Am I on a 29er? Hopping up an over the rocks was a breeze. At this point, I hit a few rock gardens on the way back down the hill...again, I'm asking myself whether or not I'm on a 29" wheel. The 650B's are rolling through stuff like it doesn't even exist.

I rolled back down the same switchbacks I just got done riding up, and the bike did equally well on the descent. The most impressive thing was the feeling of control through these switchbacks. Since I went into them with much better stability, I didn't find myself getting squirrely through them and skidding around as much in the loose stuff. It sort of felt good to know I was minimizing the impact on the trail!

Time to give the 26" wheel bike some love. After swapping bikes out at my car, I rolled down the hill to take the same exact loop I just finished on the 650B bike. As I suspected, the 26" felt twitchy and small. On one of the little rock sections in the off-camber singletrack, I actually dabbed...just didn't have the momentum to get through it. The beauty of 650B and 29er wheels is you need FAR less momentum to get through the choppy stuff!

As I cruised along, I made notes of some of the differences I felt. Cornering wasn't nearly as stable. Climbing didn't feel as efficient. The switchbacks were just as simple to negotiate on the 26" wheel bike as they were on the 650B. The technical downhills definitely weren't as smooth.

Overall, my first impressions of 650B wheels are pretty good. Very similar to a 29er, it just gave the bike a nice, stable feeling. The best thing about it was I was on a bike made for a 26" wheel, so I didn't feel like I was riding a stretch limo. I'm eager to get more rides in with the wheels; the first day was awesome. Do I think the 650B wheels will replace 26" wheels? No, but they did make me love riding one of my favorite bikes even more.

It's also good to know that from a manufacturer's standpoint, there's very little we'll need to do with our 26" wheel frames to make 650B's work. All we have to do is lengthen the stays a bit. I don't have a high comfort level with the amount of fork arch clearance we have, so the choices will be to either spec a 29er fork or hope that fork manufacturers will see 650B's as an area of opportunity and provide for more clearance in their castings. As mould charges are quite high for those castings, I don't know that we'll see that happening in the very near future or not.

One last impression I'll leave you with is the overall look of bikes with 650B wheels. They just look so balanced! 29er's often look they are all wheels. I know that's sort of a "chick" observation, but I'd like to think overall aesthetics do play a roll in the function to a certain degree.

Nice and balanced!

So are you curious yet? If you'll be attending Interbike's On Dirt Demo, we'll have 2 Werx Xeon bikes out there set up with 650B wheels. Come on by and take one for a spin. I'd love to hear as many opinions as possible on this to help us decide if it's something Haro should put into our line.

Happy trails!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Interbike... just right around the corner! Hard to believe it's that time of year again, but it sure does feel like "that time of year". Man, have we been busy.

I attended Eurobike in Germany a couple of weeks ago with lofty intentions of doing a nice little report each night. Ha! Between a crappy Internet connection and just getting in too damn late each night, it never happened. Heck, I haven't even downloaded my pictures yet.

Going back to Interbike, the preparation for this one has been especially busy for us since we decided to build a new trade show booth. No, not as in"have it built by a trade show booth manufacturer". We are building all 30 x 80 feet of it with our own hands. This has meant days of hammering, sanding, painting, and cutting wood. I think I sanded stuff for about 8 hours straight today! But the good news is it's going to look fantastic. If you are going to attend the show, please come by and admire our hard work. Keep your eyes on Masiguy's blog...he's been taking some photos which I'm sure he'll post.

Anyhow, I think I'll sign off for now. I'm pooped. Think I'll have another glass of red and head to bed.

Ciao for now!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sneak Peek...Haro Metro Series

WOW!!! Three posts in two days. I can hear all 11 fans going nuts!!!

I thought you guys might enjoy a little sneak peek of our all-new Metro series bikes. Think flat bar road bike with a mountain bike twist. Huge props to Product Manager Wayne for the killer spec on these bikes and Product Manager Pat for creating the frame drawings. I'm really excited about these bikes...not only are they nicely appointed with nice parts on them but they look awesome. I've got Graphic Designer Rick James to thank for that. Anyhow, three models...Roscoe (MSRP $550), Sanford (MSRP $750), and the Maxwell (MSRP $950). Realistic availability won't be till closer to the end of this year; hopefully sooner. Check 'em out!!!




Friday, August 24, 2007

Fun with prototypes!

Admittedly, one of the things I love the most about by job is seeing ideas come full circle into product...and being able to have first crack at putting prototypes through their paces. It's pretty cool.

We've had a ton of success with our line of Mary XC and Mary SS 29er mountain bikes. The price, look, colors, and spec on these bikes are dialed and people love 'em. They aren't expensive (relatively speaking, of course), but they aren't cheap either so we had a few requests for a down-spec'd cheaper version of the Mary bikes down in the 5 to 6 bill range.

So away we went to accomplish such a feat. The current Mary frames are made of crmo steel and are built in a really high-end factory in Taiwan, so they are pretty expensive. In order to bring the pricing down on these new bikes, crmo was out of the question so these bikes would have to be alloy.

MTB Product Manager Pat Crosby whipped up some drawings based on the same geometry as the Mary frames and voila! Just a few months later, we've got prototypes. Pat wasted no time in getting these babies built up so we could see how they rode. In fact, mine was built and ridden at the local trails all within about 3 hours of the box hitting the warehouse floor. Hey, that's how we roll here at Haro. We don't mess around when it comes to brining YOU cool product.

How'd it ride? Awesome. It's alloy, so it doesn't have that lively crmo ride, but it's lighter and stiffer, that's for sure.

Does this bike have a name? We're leaning towards Ally; she'll be like Mary's little sister. We're hoping to have these bikes dialed and ready for sale in the spring.

Pictures? Of course I have pictures. Just remember...this is just a prototype and won't come spec'd as shown.


Getting back to basics

After a little bit of ribbing from 2 or 3 of my 11 fans and regular readers about the frequency with which I update my blog, it really has had me thinking about why I started it in the first place. My goal was to talk about my job, showcase some new Haro product from time to time, and chatter about anything else related to the bike industry or cycling in general.

Well, it's time to get back to basics and start blogging about what I had originally intended. And a little more frequently, I hope.

The fun starts now....

Friday, August 10, 2007

I'm really not dead (at least not yet).

OK, OK...I know I don't have all THAT many loyal readers but the few of you that do drop by my little blog-o-rama from time to time have spoken up. Yes, it's time for me to post something. Yes, I need to be better about updating this damn thing a little more often.

Work has just been crazy busy. This is the time of year where we have catalog production, a shareholder's meeting, a couple of sales meetings, Eurobike, and Interbike prep all wrapped up into the time span of a few weeks. Needless to say, when I come home from work, I really don't feel like looking at my computer nor type words into it.

So I'll start off with posting a picture of the latest addition to my bike family: my new Masi 3V. This frame is special since it's made from steel tubing and lugs from "back in the day". Ted Kirkbride, who was sort of Faliero Masi's right hand man during the Masi California project, had some tubing and lugs left over. He and Russ Denny made up some frames for us and I managed to get my hands on one. I'm sure Masiguy Tim will have more to add about the frame story. Damn, this is a pretty bike. Built up with Campy Record Carbon 10-speed. I am SO unworthy of a bike this nice. Big props to Masiguy Tim and my Product Managers Pat and Wayne for helping me build this up. I can build MTB's all day long but I'm a retard when it comes to road bikes, so thanks guys!

The next item of business is it appears I have been "tagged" by Donna at Kryptonite (Thanks Donna!). No spraypaint and/or thugs involved. Evidently, it's a blog thing (which I would know nothing about since I have been so inactive lately). Part of being tagged is telling the world 8 random things about yourself. So here goes:

1. I have recently taken up kayaking. I have never kayaked before, but have always thought it looked like fun. Think maybe I'd go rent one to see how I liked it? Hell no, that's not how I roll. I just went out and bought one. It's a Malibu Mini-X. I love it! Here I am at Lake Hodges:

2. I love to fish. I usually go fishing every weekend. That's actually one reason I bought the kayak is to fish from it. Haven't caught anything on it yet, but I've only fished off of it a couple of times.

3. I am a National Parks junkie. There's a reason these places are National Parks...because they are freakin' gorgeous. I just went to Bryce and Zion in May (went last summer, too) and plan to hit Zion again next month. In October, I'm going doing a road trip to the Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and wherever else the road takes me along the way.

4. I own the coolest cat ever. Tommy rules. God broke the mold when He made her; she's an absolute doll. Even people who hate cats like her.

5. I used to be a kick-ass downhill racer. I was the #1 ranked expert female in the US in 2001. I went pro in 2002, but didn't stick with it for a variety of reasons. I was on the US National team for UCI Master's World's twice. I still race every now and then as an expert. I'm actually thinking about starting to race a little more next season.

6. I'm a former "test model" for Mountain Bike Action magazine. I was on the cover twice (December 2000 and April 2001) and in reviews a total of 4 times (December 2000, February 2001, March 2001, and April 2001).

7. Back before I took up cycling, I used to ride, train, and show horses. And you think bikes are expensive.

8. I embarrassed the ever-living hell out of myself by singing karaoke at a big party (which included most of my co-workers and several other esteemed members of the industry) during the Taipei Bike Show this year. The song? Madonna's "Material Girl". There is video floating around somewhere.

Wow, so there's eight random things. I think I'm supposed to tag some folks and get them to blog about their 8 random things, but I don't know enough bloggers (I can't tag Tim since he's already been tagged. Oh wait, here's one). So my dear and few readers...feel free to play along and consider yourselves tagged!

Ciao for now. And I promise I'll be better about updating more often. Really.

Friday, July 13, 2007

How to put the "S" in "Action"....

OK, yes, there is no "S" in action, but there's an "S" in lots of other words. But this is a family show, so I'll keep it clean.

Just wanted to share a link with you for two reasons:

1) To prove that I'm really not dead and I do still care about my blog
2) Because this story is just amazing to me from a business standpoint.

Mike and Debbe Simmons own an awesome chain of bike shops here in San Diego called Bicycle Warehouse. Hands down, they are the biggest and best chain in San Diego County, not to mention just plain nice folks. Before I worked in the industry, I used to shop in their stores all the time.

Anyhow, they have been a HUGE account of Specialized's for many, many years, so it really surprised me to hear that Specialized recently dropped them recently. I didn't really know the whole story, but I got it here. Damn. What on earth are they thinking?

I'll probably rot in hell for saying this, but I'm just wondering when some of the big guys like Trek and Specialized will start to play nice in the sandbox with the rest of the kids. When will they stop telling retailers how to run their businesses? Yeah, the world of business can be an ugly place sometimes in effort to stay profitable, but I truly think stuff like this will start to backfire on them eventually.

Can't wait to see the comments I get on this one.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Sea Otter, you are killing me.

After getting some really great news a month or so back about Sea Otter changing their dates to the first weekend in May, I just got word from a reliable source that those dates have just been moved back to April. Ugh! Looks like I threw out my rubber boots too soon.

The reasons given for the change was the media supposedly told the Sea Otter promoters that they couldn't guarantee as much coverage if the event was in May...and then supposedly Sea Otter got "outbid" by some other event who wanted the facility for the May dates.


Friday, June 8, 2007

Send Paris to France.

Or Africa. Or the North Pole. Or better yet, a deserted island far, far away. Anywhere but here. I know this is completely off the topic of cycling, but is anyone else besides me absolutely disgusted that the Paris Hilton jail sentence/release/sentence is actually considered newsworthy? For crying out loud, it's been getting coverage on both local and national world news. Give me a freakin' break...what is this world coming to? This stupid bimbo isn't an actress, a singer, a dancer, or any sort of an entertainer who has contributed anything at all to society other than her exploits of being young, rich, and blonde.

It would nothing short of a miracle to have the networks cover a cycling event yet they allocate air space to this stupid story. Unreal.


Ok, rant over. Have a great weekend, ya'll.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Believe it or not, that was the opening line of a request for sponsorship I got a couple of years ago. The rest of it went something like this:

"Sponsor me cause I rule and Haro sucks. All my friends ride Kona's, so Haro needs my help. Write back." (and this was followed by his name, phone number, and e-mail address)

I'm hoping that this request was some sort of a joke written by a kid who got a big kick out of himself for sending in such a smartass request. However, there's also the chance that whoever wrote it was dead serious. You would seriously be surprised at some of the requests that come across my desk at work.

I have to admit that many are very nice and professional. But I also have to admit that the vast majority of these folks expect the moon. The sense of entitlement many racers have these days is nauseating. Damn, you're the reigning sport class US National Champion and you need a free bike because you tell me the exposure I'll get through your results will help sell bikes? OK, I'll get right on that. Need your expenses paid too? OK, here's a blank check...

My friend Eric up in WA sent me a link to a fantastic article on Bicycling's website written by Soulcraft Bicycles owner, Sean Walling. I highly recommend that you click here to read it; you will either get a kick out of it or an education. Personally, I got a HUGE kick out of it because it really could have been penned (or typed...nobody writes anymore!) by my own hand. Somebody FINALLY had the cajones to just come right out and and say it!

One of the main reasons we stopped supporting a big factory pro team is the fact that (in our opinion) very few bikes are sold as a result of a team's or rider's presence at races. For the most part, the only people who pay attention to who wins what race and what bike they are riding are other racers. And I can't think of too many serious racers who are willing to walk into their local bike shop and buy their bikes and parts at full-pop retail based on wanting to ride what their favorite racer rides on. Most want it free or at a deep discount. Some aren't even happy with that. "Oh, you mean you can't pay my entry fees and give me team kits, too?". I have actually had people turn down an offer for a free or discounted bike because I couldn't offer them cash for entries and expenses...and the sad thing is these ingrates weren't pros or even semi-pros. The pros and semi's have's the amateurs who have the worst sense of entitlement.

What many of these folks don't realize is that the state of mountain bike racing is hurting. There's only about 5 pro mountain bike racers on the circuit who are earning a 6-figure salary from racing their bikes. The rest struggle. Many (and this is especially true of some in the women's pro field), are happy to get bikes and expenses...if they are lucky, they might have a bonus program in place with their sponsors. A couple of years ago, I had one of the circuit's top female DH racers approach me (who will remain nameless) for sponsorship after her team cut her; at that point, she was just about willing to ride for bikes and expenses. It's that bleak out there. I would have loved to have accomodated her, but lucky for her, she did manage to secure a spot on a team who was willing to pay her a salary.

I'm sure I'm going to ruffle a few feathers out there, but I think there are some feathers that need it. My goal (beyond just plain bitching) is to just put it all into perspective for a few racer-types out there who feel entitled to free product just because they race. Sure, if we give you free product you'll go tell all your other racer friends how great it is...and then chances are, they too will go straight to the source for the "hook up" instead of buying it at their local shop.

As cheesy as this will sound, if all you amatuer racers want to be more successful at securing sponsorship for yourself, borrow (and modify) a line from JFK...and that's to "ask not what your sponsor can do for you, ask what you can do for your sponsor". Show us what value you bring to the table. Show us how you reach out to your community. Show us your advocacy efforts. Show us you are passionate about cycling and approachable. Show us you want to be an equal partner in our marketing efforts and aren't just looking for a handout. Sometimes you receive more by asking for less.

And for God's sake...don't begin your request for sponsorship "Hey....bitches!".

Happy trails!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

So ya wanna work in the bike industry?

Here's your chance. Haro Bikes is looking for an Inside Sales Rep here in our San Diego, CA headquarters. Like any industry job, you're not going to get rich, but you'll have a lot of fun. Here's the little "want ad" as provided by our Director of Sales:

"Haro Bikes is looking for a motivated Inside Salesperson specializing in BMX/Freestyle but with a solid understanding of other cycling categories such as Mountain and Road. Excellent communication skills to provide customer service to both outside sales force and dealers a must. Position requires strong computer skills and 2-3 years of customer service experience either at retail or wholesale.
Please e-mail résumé’s to: or fax to: (760) 599-1237 attn: Sales Position."

That's all I have for now. I promise I'm going to post something slightly more entertaining soon. I've just been so slammed at work that when I get home, I just want to veg out and do a whole lot of nothing (except maybe consume an alcoholic beverage and watch re-runs of Grey's Anatomy).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I really haven't fallen off the face of the earth...

...But there were a few times during the past week where I could have if I really wanted to.

I recently returned from a week-long vacation to Bryce and Zion National Parks with my mom. We did lots of hiking (probably about 35 miles worth over the course of 5 days) and I really didn't do much bike riding to speak of. I did manage to go over the bars while road riding in Bryce due to a really, really lame rider error, but we won't talk about that.

I did see lots of spectacular scenery, experienced a bit of an unexpected snowstorm in Bryce, and took lots of fabulous hikes. Zion is by far one of my favorite National Parks; I managed to scale the famed (and strenous) Angel's Landing trail for the second time over the past year.

Anyhow, today was my first day back at work and it was, needless to say, crazy. I do have a couple of new posts I'm working on, so I'll try to wrap them up soon.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Zen and the Art of Bicycling

Somebody sent this to me the other day and I thought it was pretty cool:


A Zen master teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”
The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes, I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back! The teacher praised the student, saying,”You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over as I do.”
The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path.” The teacher commended the student, “Your eyes are open and you see the world.”
The third student replied, “When I ride my bike I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher praised the student, saying, your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”
The fourth student answered, ‘Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings.” The teacher was pleased and said “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”
The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle”
The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student and said,
“I am your disciple”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All-new Flightline bikes

When I first started this blog way back about 3 months ago, I posted something about "inexpensive" versus "cheap" and talked about some new bikes we were working on called the Flightline series that were going to replace our popularly-priced V-Series bikes. We opted to give these bikes a face lift and a new name...they just needed some "oooompf". One of the goals I set out to achieve was to aesthetically create bikes that even though they were inexpensive, wouldn't look cheap.

Well, we finally got some of the all-new Flightlines into our warehouses and they are shipping to dealers as we speak. It's been really exciting to see this project come full circle into completion...and I'm even more excited to see how our dealers and consumers react to them. Of course I am somewhat biased, but I think they turned out pretty damn cool.

Here are a couple views of the Flightline Two (formerly V2):

And the Flightline Sport (formerly V3):

And the soon-to-be "it" bike amongst 6-year old girls across the color option of the Flightline 20 (formerly V20):

I don't know, but I think these are some pretty damn good-looking bikes that all retail for less than $400. No more el cheapo-looking tw0-tone paint jobs with motocross-inspired graphics. These have a more sophisticated look to them. Needless to say, I'm pretty stoked about them.

We'll be posting the entire Flightline series on our website just as soon as they all become available.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Sea Otter Classic...come what May!

This morning, I got some of the best news I've had in a long time...the Sea Otter Classic is moving to the month of May! May 1st through May 4th, to be exact. Afters years of slogging around Laguna Seca in a veritable quagmire, somebody finally got the hint and said, "Hmmm...maybe we should move this event to a time when the weather might be a little better". To whoever came up with that brilliant idea, all I can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I remember when Sea Otter used to be in March; rain was pretty much guaranteed not to mention fog, wind, and general coldness. Once it got moved into April, I'd say rain was likely at least one of the four days; wind and cold is a given. Hopefully, by moving the event 3 weeks later, the likelihood of better weather will be far greater.

It would be one thing if Sea Otter was still being billed as a primarily a race event; then you just deal with the weather. That's goes on rain or shine. But over the years, Sea Otter has been promoted as a festival; boasting a big consumer event, non-competitive rides, and of course, some racing too. For the 2007, the Eurobike folks got involved and it was touted as the one of the largest cycling consumer events in North America.

Since Sea Otter is no longer just a "race event" where the promoters simply say "like it or lump it" when it comes to bad weather, when the focus is on consumers, the event takes on a whole new meaning and must adhere to a different set of guidelines. Much like shopping at Nordstrom or any other nice department store, people are far more likely to shop there when they feel like they are getting good service and having a positive experience. Who wants to go shopping in the mud, wind, cold, and rain? I'd be willing to bet that the weather at this year's Sea Otter kept more than just a few folks at home curled up watching Saturday Morning Cartoons. And taking this a step further to expo vendors, speaking from experience, when the weather sucks and gets all your product wet and muddy, it's hard to see much value in attending.

So to the folks at Sea Otter (just in case any happen to stumble across this post)...thank you for moving the dates for 2008 into a (hopefully) warmer month. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the weather WILL be better and if that's the case, you'll likely see an increase in attendance. Want some more tips on how to increase your attendance? OK, there wasn't anyone here to say yes or no, so I'll give you a few that I came up with:

  1. Ditch the entry fee. OK, parking was free this year, but who cares? Do you know how many groms were trolling around the parking lot begging for unused wrist bands because they couldn't afford the entry fee? Think they aren't valid customers because they can't afford it? Think again. Generation Y (people born between 1980 and 2000) boasts a combined spending power of about $150 billion. Aside from some of these kids, how many people do you think opted not to attend knowing that there would be a fee to get inside the gates?

  2. Get real with race entry fees. I went to Sea Otter this year thinking I'd like to race singlespeed just as I had for the past several years. When you go to Sea Otter to staff a booth, early registration really isn't an option since there are staffing issues that need to be worked out. My race entry fee, combined with the late fee AND the one-day license fee pushed the total damn near $70. I ended up not racing. Truth be told, it wasn't the outrageous fee by itself...I was getting over being sick and the weather was supposed to be bad on race day, but the fee just compounded it all. If the fee were more reasonable, I probably would have bucked up and raced but $70 is a lot of money to shell out. I'd be willing to bet more than a few people opted not to race due to the high fees as well.

  3. And speaking of fees, get real with the expo fees. As you know, you damn near doubled expo fees on us this year. The cool thing about Sea Otter is the fact that you had the little start-up companies exhibiting side-by-side with the big guys. I know of companies who are still in business today who got their humble beginnings selling at Sea Otter years ago. Let's keep it that way! Consumers come to see and buy new things...why disappoint them? If you keep jacking up the expo fees, you WILL price some of these people right out of your event. Speaking for myself, I came damn close to not attending this year because of the increase. When I mentioned to Skip Latham that it was simply not in my budget, he very graciously granted me a bit of a discount to keep Haro's attendance. I hate to say it, but a huge increase in Sea Otter expo space isn't going to be in my budget next year either. I simply cannot justify to my boss why the cost to attend just doubled. Am I getting anything more than I have in years past? No, I can't say that I will. Do yourselves a bit of a favor...take a look at bicycle sales statistics from a reputable industry source like BPSA. You'll see that the cycling industry isn't exactly growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, bike sales are down. Profits are down. Most companies within the industry are looking to REDUCE expenses, not increase them.

OK, well I'm done with my little rant. I hope nobody walks away from this post thinking I hate Sea Otter. I don't. I love the event. For the most part, the promoters have done a fine job at keeping Sea Otter a first-rate event. However, even the best job can still be done better. I'd really like to see Sea Otter remain the wonderful, inclusionary event that it's been for years attended by cyclists of all types, racer or otherwise. Don't give people a reason NOT to attend your event. Moving Sea Otter to May is definitely a step in the right direction. Let's keep on walking, shall we?


Monday, May 7, 2007

Just because it feels good.

Geez,it's been almost a week since I last posted something. My apologies to my 11 fans out there who take the time to drop by my blog and read my ramblings. I've been down with a little bit of a cold which kept me home from work for a couple of days last week, so I've turned in some early nights lately which has kept me from doing much blogging.

Just before I came down with my little case of Bird Flu or whatever the hell I caught, I had the opportunity to initiate one of those little random acts of kindness that Oprah Winfrey and all those other humanitarian types seem to get so much press on. No, didn't build a school for underprivileged girls in Africa or anything like that, but I did give bikes to a couple of deserving neighbor kids.

Best friends Anthony, 9, and Amber, 7, are two awesome little kids in my neighborhood whom I've noticed had been riding these itty, bitty little bikes that were just WAY too small for them. Both of their parents were aware that they had outgrown their bikes and asked me what new ones would cost. With money being really tight for both of these families, the Moms sort of cringed a bit when I gave them a price and said one something about going to Wal-Mart for the $49.95 bike she saw last week. No way. No Wal-Mart bikes allowed in my 'hood.

I told the kids' parents to just hold off for a couple of days. When I returned to work on Monday, I checked our sample bike supply to see what we had on hand. Sample bikes are generally ordered to take photos of for our catalogs and then stripped down because they are pre-production. I was in luck this time...we had 2 little V24 24" wheel mountain bikes in the sample pile that hadn't been stripped of their parts in blue and silver for Anthony and the other in pink and silver for Amber. Perfect.

I loaded the little bikes up and took them home with me that night. I called Anthony and Amber's mothers and told them to meet me by my car. As the kids walked up to my car, Amber said, "Oh my gosh, look at that pink bike! Whose bike is that?" I took the bike off of my roof racks and joked that it was for Anthony. He blushed while Amber looked amused yet slightly dejected. When I put the front wheel on the bike and rolled it over to her, her eyes got as big as saucers. Then I handed Anthony his bike. After a few minor adjustments to seat height, they were off and riding.

If I had been a smart blogger, I would have snapped a few pictures, but hey, I'm still learning. It was such an awesome sight. They were so cute as they struggled with learning gears and hand brakes (both came off of coaster brake bikes). And Amber, her old bike was this little tiny 20" wheel sidewalk bike, was having some issues learning to turn a bike with wheels much larger than what she was used to. She practiced diligently with this cute little look of sheer determination on her face. It was priceless.

This past Saturday, there was a knock on my door. It was Anthony and Amber; they brought over some "thank you" goodies for me which included a beautiful bromeliad plant, a bottle of red wine, and nicely written thank-you cards. Amber made her card. I have to tell you what she wrote inside because it was so cute:

"Thenk you for the bick. I rilly lik it, it is so ckonterbl. I rily lik it. And it has my favorit coler it is pinck. And I allso love you as a friend. And God loves you to! Love, Amber" (signed with a little heart after her name.

How cute is that?

It felt great just to do something good for someone simply because I could. No, it didn't save a life or cure a disease, but it sure made a couple of little kids really happy. You can bet they will be riding bikes much more now that they have bikes that actually fit them and they aren't hitting their knees on the handlebars. I didn't do it because I expected anything in return; I just did it because it felt good.
We all need more "good" in our lives.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What Brand Managers Do When We're Bored...

...our imaginations go wild! Thoughts start entering our minds like, "Hmmmm....what if I built up this frame with these funky bars? And what if I put those tires on it? Oh, and how about a set of fenders?". We're combining stuff in our heads that WE think is cool and will look cool in reality. Pretty soon, bike parts start flying around the shop area and an all-new bike is in the process of being born. The good news is it's looking as cool as the images you conjured up in your brain just moments ago. And then you catch yourself asking your co-workers, "Wow, do you think we could sell these things?".

I recently completed a bike project that's been in the works for several months that started out much like that. Well, the boredom part I just made up, but I started dreaming up a funky 29" wheel commuter/pub crawl bike built around our super-successful Mary XC frame. I've been noticing and getting inspired by some of these small builders who have been bringing nichy, fun bikes to market...I wanted to see what people would think of a funky 29er, Haro style.

It started with a Humboldt Green Mary XC frame. I decided since this would be more of an urban commuter bike, a rigid fork was in order. I also wanted gears...there are hills in my area. I went with an "M" shaped set of bars that I thought would be pretty comfy for cruising around town. Then, I found a set of one-of-a-kind handmade wooden fenders on eBay. Of course, you can't have classy wooden fenders and not have a classic Brooks saddle, right? That gave way to leather-wrapped grips (yes, I wrapped them myself) that matched the saddle. I even placed some of the leftover leather bar tape on the chainstay. Other notable cool bits include a Salsa CroMoto stem, SRAM X0 shifters and rear derailleur, and WTB tires and wheels.

I think the end result turned out pretty damn cool. I have to give props to one of our Product Managers, Pat Crosby, for his help with this project. He proved that putting fenders on a bike not designed for fenders is entirely possible!

So I'll stop babbling and let you all enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The "Wave".

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but it's just been one of those weeks at work. The big push has been finishing up our new line of Metro bikes...and as of today, specs and graphics are about 99% complete. I'm really excited about these hip, urban commuter type bikes; it's going to be fun to see what people think about them. We also have some fun stuff on tap for our cruiser bikes...I know not many people who read this blog are much interested in cruisers, but these are going to offer up something pretty different. So many cruiser companies (including Haro with our Del Sol line) have tried to emulate Electra bikes...and we came to the conclusion that we just can't compete with them. Electra does some pretty damn nice cruisers with loads of personality...and our new cruisers will have a whole different personality. No, I can't go into details at this point, but I can say they have been fun to work on and I can't wait to see some samples.

But enough about work. Let's talk about the "wave". You know the's that little hand gesture you make to other cyclists you pass on the road (or trail). Sometimes it's in the form of a full-blown wave and accompanied with a friendly "good morning" (or afternoon). Or it could be in the form of a one-finger (and hopefully not the middle finger pointed straight up) off the bars wave. Sometimes it's just a simple head nod. I mean, all of us cyclists are a family so we're supposed to acknowledge our brethren on two wheels in some fashion, right?

Motorcyclists, much like cyclists, are a tight-knit family. When you pass another motorcycle, whether it's coming the other way at you or you are passing in the same direction, you wave. Yes, there is sometimes the silly sportbike vs. Harley snobbery where someone on a sporty won't wave to a Harley rider and vice versa, but that's pretty rare. It's just what you give the "wave" to your fellow rider. You're family, after all. I have actually found myself getting bummed if too many riders pass by me and don't return the wave to me.

I've noticed recently that when I'm on my bicycle, the "wave" is becoming somewhat of a lost art. I don't know, maybe I'm just growing more sensitive to it, but it really seems like fewer and fewer cyclists do it. Are these newbs that haven't gotten then memo yet? Just this past weekend, I did 2 fairly long rides and saw lots of other cyclists. Some of the riders I encountered were just plain in the zone or something and didn't even look my way. OK, if you're into your moment, so be it. But the most puzzling folks I came across are the ones (and there were several) who I'd wave to, and they would simply just stare at me as I passed and not return the wave. This behavior seriously had me wondering if I had perhaps forgotten to put clothing on and was riding along naked or something.

I notice the same behavior on the trail when I ride MTB, too. The past few rides I have done, the hikers and horse people have been much friendlier than many of the other cyclists I'd encounter on the trail. The vast majority of the cyclists would just ride by without any acknowledgement at all. Often times, as a result of this lack of communication from some cyclists, trail etiquette suffers. I can't tell you how many times I've been climbing up a steep, technical section of trail only to have someone bomb towards me and expect me to yield the trail to them, without saying a word. What's up with that? Isn't the rider riding up the hill supposed to have the right of way?

Am I alone or do any of you also experience this and feel the same way? Does it seem like some cyclists you see on the road and/or trail just aren't aren't as friendly as they used to be? As cyclists, we truly are a lot like family. We're a tight community bonded together by rubber, metal, open roads, a penchant for pain, and a love for the great outdoors. Just as you wave to the neighbors on the street you live on, isn't it simply a nice gesture to acknowledge the other members of your community who share the same passion as you do? I do.

Regardless, I can rant and bitch about this all day long, but I won't give up in protest. I'll continue to give the "wave" and acknowledge other cyclists I see in my travels. If they wave back, that will make me feel good; validated even. If they don't, no worries. I'll just take satisfaction in knowing that I really wasn't waving at them anyhow. I was merely waving at their bicycles.

Now go ride your bike (and wave at the other riders you see, would ya?).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A car-free state of mind.

I got the latest issue of Adventure Cycling in the mail at work last week; as someone who really, really wants to start doing some bike touring one of these days, I read this magazine immediately from front cover to back page.

Within the first few pages of this issue, there was a little story that caught my eye: "Carless in the Cowboy State". The subheading boldly declared, "Wyoming initiates unprecedented vehicle ban". Huh? Really?!? This sounds cool! So I read on. The article goes on to discuss that all motor vehicles will be banned from all streets and roads in the state of Wyoming for the entire week of July 16-22. The measure, which won support from both Wyoming Senate and house representatives, was designed to encourage both residents and tourists to use alternative means of transportation to get around. The article stated that Lance Armstrong is rumored to be planning a group ride across the state in support of the measure.

Wow! What a victory for cycling advocates! Perhaps this measure would serve as a model for others. If people are forced to abandon their cars for just one week, then maybe, just maybe a few people would find that riding their bike or walking to work would actually be enjoyable and would continue their car-free commute after July 22nd. Imagine the possibilities!

The article closed with a web address to a website where you could get more information: Of course I had to check this out.

OK, well if you clicked on the link before reading any more of my post, hopefully you got as good of a laugh as I did. Instead of a glorious website rich with details of such an unprecedented step towards encouraging citizens to use alternative means of transportation, I was greeted with a big, bold headline that read, "Welcome fellow gullible cyclists".

Much to my dismay, it was all a hoax. Actually, it was a belated April Fool's joke. I felt so robbed. As I thought about all the possibilities that could have come of a measure such as this...well, if it was actually true, that is.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I began to think about the Wyoming measure from all angles. As a cyclist, I would gladly be forced to ditch the car and ride my bike to work. Like they say, you can't rape the willing. But what about the rest of the population? How would they react? Would they be open to finding other ways to get to work and actuallly embrace using them?

It's sort of like when your parents forced you to take piano lessons when you were 10. When you're forced to do something, it's often human nature to resist it. So as much as I thought that the Wyoming measure was as cool as hell (well, again, if it was actually true), it dawned on me that alternative means of transportation can't be forced onto people. Sure, it might persuade some people to change the way they commute and run errands, but it runs the risk of turning so many more away.

So at a time when gas prices are at an all-time high and our air and environment is more polluted than it ever has been, what is the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of people to get them to leave their cars at home? As we learned at the National Bicycle Summit, there are many measures in place (and not hoaxes I swear...I was there!) that will reward and encourage people to start using differents means to commute.

My hope as a budding advocate (who still has a lot to learn) and as a cyclist is that people will adopt cycling as a means of transportation without being forced to do so. If folks are forced into it, rush hour will have more bar-banging than a AA Pro main at an ABA BMX national.

I just realized that I just got off on a tangent, taking a stance against an April Fool's joke. Well, I hope like me, you at least got a good chuckle out of it.

Happy trails!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back to reality.

OK, I've finally simmered down a little bit after last night's post losing debacle. Amazing what a night of good sleep will do for you.

Sea Otter is always a great event in spite of the weather which is usually guaranteed to be cold, windy, and raining. This year was no exception; we experienced all of the above however all I can say is it was yards better than last year's weather where it pissed down rain just about the whole time.

For the Haro crew, the event was a real success since we sent out quite a few demo bikes and people were super stoked on them. Of course the Mary 29ers were the hit of the party; I even got an e-mail from a guy today who ran out and bought a Mary SS this morning based on his test ride. I love stuff like that. Marketing can be such an intangible art form, it's always nice to hear when its successful and drives someone into their local shop to buy a bike.

None of us ended up racing the singlespeed class liked we had planned. I got sick earlier in the week, so combined with not feeling too hot and the nearly $70 entry fee to race (What are the Sea Otter organizers thinking?!?), I just wasn't into it. Masiguy sprained his thumb in a pre-ride trip over the bars (imagine that!!!). And our product guys Wayne and Pat weren't really up to racing, either. So we all stayed in the booth and watched it rain...and rain...and rain.

We did manage to get a couple of nice rides in. The race course at Laguna Seca is truly epic from a scenery's just so beautiful. The rolling green hills peppered with oak trees just seem to go on forever. In certain areas of Fort Ord (aka Laguna Seca), there are hundreds of sheep grazing...between the green hills, the sheep, and cold cloudy weather, I thought I was in Ireland or something. Not that I have been to Ireland to know what it looks like, but I've seen pictures.

It wouldn't be Sea Otter without a ton of vendors and cycling-related stuff to see. I spent a bunch of money at Sheila Moon's booth...she does super kick-ass women's cycling gear. I've heard of her line but never had the chance to actually try it on...WOW, what nice clothing she does. You can bet I'll post some sort of review on her clothing here in the not-so-distant future. I also made a point to go check out the new line of hip urban bikes by Swobo. OK, it may sound as if I'm plugging the competition but that's alright. I'm not afraid to call a spade a spade and the new Swobo bikes are pretty awesome. Sky did a killer job with them. Damn, if I had half the product management skills she has, I'd be happy.

So that, my friends, is a Sea Otter wrap. At least until next year!

Happy trails!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sea Otter Pics

Well, I had a nice little Sea Otter report going until I managed to do something to completely wipe the whole post off this little screen. (No..."recover post" didn't work).

Now I'm too pissed off to write it all over again, so I'm just going to post some random photos I took from the event.

Monday, April 9, 2007

We're off the see the Otter!

Yes, it's that time of the year again...Sea Otter! Must mean it's Springtime. The truck and trailer are loaded chock full of Haro and Masi demo bikes, and we're shoving off tomorrow morning first thing. If you're at the event, please stop by and say "hi", register to win a frame (we've got frame drawings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), or better yet, demo one of our fine bikes.

Look for the Haro crew (along with Masiguy) on the startline of Saturday's Sport Singlespeed won't be able to miss us. We'll be on the cool, baby blue Haro Mary SS 29ers that look something like this:

Happy trails, ya'll!

Friday, April 6, 2007

What's in a name?

A funny thing happens when you start a blog. Not only do you find yourself doing a lot more writing, but you find yourself doing a lot more reading, too. And usually that reading is in the form of other blogs as the stack of yet-to-be-read magazines and books on my coffee table will attest to.

One of the blogs I have found myself visiting recently is the Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog. It's got a ton of great marketing-related articles on it by a slew of marketing guru contributors from a variety of industries. In fact, Tim "Masi Guy" Jackson is lucky enough to be a contributor, which is how I found out about this gem of a blog.

The other night, I read a pretty interesting post that really had zero to do with bikes or the cycling industry, but it still managed to hold my attention for longer than 34 seconds. The post was entitled "Store Brands Give National Brands a Run for the Money" and it discussed how many retailers are having great success with their own house or "private label" brands up against the big national name brands. Once considered inferior quality, many private label brands are positioned as high quality, upscale products and consumers are quickly gaining acceptance for them.

This post really got me thinking about society's obsession with brand names. I mean, it's just a name, right? Just a little logo? Or is it? And of course, cyclists are not immune to this obsession. In fact, we are the worst. We are completely obsessed by the lure of that brand name on their stems, bars, saddles, and everything else that can be bolted or stuck to a bicycle in some fashion.

Believe me, there was a time where I was as obsessed by bike part brands as I was by designer jeans back when I was 12 years old. Before I started working in the cycling industry, whenever I purchased a new bike, one of the first things I did was start making a list of which cool aftermarket parts I wanted to buy because lord knows I just couldn't leave the stock bike manufacturer branded parts on the bike. What would people think? I would surely get laughed right off the trail! Images of blue ano CNC'd cranks and yellow powdercoated stems danced in my head, eventually dancing their way onto my bike much to the chagrin of my wallet.

Once I started to work in the cycling industry, that obsession began to fade rapidly. No, maxed out credit cards were not to blame; education was the culprit that killed that sick obsession. I quickly learned that many of the cool parts I lusted over were not made by some bike geek in his garage or in some slick factory here in the USA, but they were made in Taiwan instead. And in addition to this, I learned that many of the manufacturers of these aftermarket parts were all having their parts made in the same factory, by the same manufacturer. At first, I felt a little cheated since clever marketing of some of these factories led me to believe these products were made a little closer to home, but once you figure out that "everyone's doing it", those feelings fade fast.

Yes, there was a day when many of those high-end aftermarket parts were made here and some still are, but the lure of inexpensive labor, less environmental restrictions, and good quality has shifted most of this production overseas. It's just the way that it is. And having been in this industry for several years now, you see just how homogenized that process really is. It's really interesting to walk through a factory in Taiwan and see who's getting their parts made there. In some cases, the products are identical; only the logo changes. In other cases, there might be a minor tweak like a different handlebar sweep or bend that sets one brand's bar apart from another before the logo is applied.

Obviously, there are aftermarket parts which are truly unique. But many are not...only the names (logos) have changed. So what is in a name? This is where I'd love to read some comments from you, my dear readers, on why you choose the aftermarket products you do. Why do you pull the bar and/or stem off your bike that says "Haro" or "Specialized" or "Felt" on it and replace it with something that has a certain brand name on it, but may not be any lighter, better fit, better performing, or better quality than the part (or parts) you just took off? Why do you choose a certain name brand over another? Do you do diligent research, ask your bike shop, or query your riding buddies? Does a particular brand's marketing efforts entice you?

So tell me...what is in a name?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

It's a man's world?

When I first started working at Haro about 6 years ago, the job I was originally hired for was Inside Sales Rep; this entailed mainly taking inbound calls from our dealers who had questions or wanted to place an order for bikes. One of my "fondest" memories from one of my first days on the job was a phone call from a dealer (who will remain nameless simply because I can't remember which one it was) that went something like this:

Me: "Good morning, Haro Bicycles, this is Jill speaking."
Dealer: "Ummmm...hello....uh...yeah, I'd like to speak to one of the guys, please." (referring to my male Inside Sales Rep Co-workers)
Me: "Well, they're both on their lines right now. Is there something I can help you with?"
Dealer: "No, I have a technical question."
Me: "Great, I can help you with that."
Dealer: "No, I'd really feel more comfortable talking to one of the guys."

I was really beginning to get curious about what the hell he wanted to ask these guys that he couldn't ask me. I mean, does it sting when he pees and he's not sure what to do? Is he not sure what the little vent hole in the front of his boxers/tightie whities is for? Or maybe his girlfriend just sprung the "L" word on him and he needed male guidance? I found it hard to believe he had a bike-related question that I couldn't provide an answer for. Not that I know it all, but if I don't know the answer, chances are I can find the answer somewhere.

Quickly realizing that this conversation was going nowhere very quickly while also noting none of my male co-workers were available to talk to this guy, I gave it one last effort.

Me: "OK, the guys are both on their lines, so you have a choice. I can put you on hold until one of them is off the phone, or you can try to ask me whatever technical question you have. I just might have an answer for you."
Dealer: "Fine. I need to know what derailleur hanger a 2001 Extreme bike takes."

Huh? You're kidding, right? Well, obviously that's not what I said to the dealer, amused at the fact that he didn't think a GIRL could handle figuring out what hanger he needed. Without skipping a beat, I looked at my tech sheet hanging on the wall nearby and give him the part number and price. Even though I think he was clearly astonished at the fact that I, a GIRL, even knew what a derailleur hanger was, he placed an order for one.

Believe it or not, that's not the only conversation like that I have had during the eight years I have been working in the cycling industry. Yes, this industry (like the sport of cycling itself) is male dominated. I'm pretty sure men working in our industry outnumber women by about 7 to 1. With those odds most people think that it's a great way for us gals to get a date (trust me, it's really not), but in reality, the fact that we are female presents a very unique set of issues (note that I did not say problems!).

Probably the biggest challenge we face is because we are female, many men don't see us as a credible source of information; especially if the information they need relates to anything technical. Most of us women who have made the decision to make careers out of working in the cycling industry have had to work so much harder than men to prove that we know what we're talking about. We have had to swallow our pride and ask more questions about stuff we don't know about even if to 99% of the guys, it's seen as a "stupid question" that "everyone" knows the answer to. And once we start gathering this precious knowledge, we really need to make a concerted effort to retain it. We have had to study bike spec harder. We have had to make many, many mistakes in effort to become knowledgeable in our field while onlooking guys roll their eyes and mutter something to the effect of "Chicks...". It's often a daunting task to constantly need to prove yourself to your co-workers, superiors, potential employers, and customers.

When I get the chance to swap stories like this with some of my "sisters" working in the industry, we have all had similar struggles, but we wouldn't change it for the world. Nor would we jump ship for any other line of work. Amidst all the funny stories, most of which all have common threads to some degree, there is one observation I have made but it seems like it's rarely vocalized...and that's the fact that none of us want to or expect to be treated any differently than our male co-workers. We've actually grown pretty accustomed to being treated like "just one of the guys"...and the funny thing is for the most part, we really like it. It lets us know that we are somehow on an equal playing field.

So as I sit here an polish off a nice glass of red wine, the purpose of this post is to do nothing but raise a figurative glass to all the women who make a living from this crazy bike industry. Just like any epic bike ride, the trail is often really, really rough, but the scenery, the thrill, and the camaraderie along the way is what great memories are made of, and keep us coming back for more.

So's to us!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hidden Gems

I just love hidden gems. You know the type...those little things you discover right under your nose you wished you had found long ago. For me, hidden gems usually come in the form of a great restaurant or an eclectic store...but today, the hidden gem I found came in the form of a trail.

The first clues of these hidden gem trails were given to me by a couple of guys I stopped to talk to on the trail a couple of weeks ago while I was out riding my Masi CXR cross bike out at Lake Hodges. These guys talked about this marathon ride they do where they start at Lake Hodges and ride around it, then they head east and ride through the San Pasqual Valley and back, and then turn off onto a nearby paved street (Highland Valley Road) and hit a trail aptly called the Highland Valley Trail, and then back to the car at Hodges.

I knew that the San Pasqual Valley Trail existed, but had never heard of the Highland Valley Trail. So today, since the weather was nice (like 80 degrees), I decided to just make a morning out of exploring these trails aboard my trusty pink Haro Sonix VL120.

I started with the Hodges Lake Trail, which I've done a million times. After I completed that out-and-back trail, I turned east and headed out on the San Pasqual Trail. I'd ridden out just a few miles on this trail before, but never all the way to the end...which was 10 miles out past the San Diego Wild Animal Park. This really turned out to be really fun; flat in the beginning, but it gave way to some grunty climbs and nice downhill singletrack sections. This valley is ripe with agriculture; you pass through dairys (yes, smelly, but still cool), orange orchards, and vegetable fields. One of the greatest things is I really didn't see a soul.

View from San Pasqual Trail looking east; it's small, but the SD Wild Animal Park is in the distance.

Another view looking east. Note the pond in the foreground; I might have to bring a pole back here and try for a big catfish.

View of San Pasqual Valley from the Raptor Ridge Viewpoint.

After ridng the San Pasqual Trail all the way to the end, I turned off onto Highland Valley Road on the way back and went to find the Highland Valley Trail. It was right where I was told I'd find it, and boy, was I eer glad I found it! Although not very long (probably 2 or 4 miles), it was super fun! Lots of rolling singletrack nestled among oak trees; the trail just flowed like water. And again...didn't see a soul on it. Here are three different views from the trail:

When it was all said and done, I rode nearly 40 miles and was out for about 4 hours (hey, I didn't claim to set any speed records!). Needless to say, I'm pretty whooped; 40 miles off-road is a LONG ride. But you gotta love the hidden gems!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Back to Reality

I'm back from Taiwan and all I can say is that it feels really good to be home. What's even nicer is the fact that I'll be home for a whole 2 weeks before I head off to the next event. Ater being home a total of about 10 days the entire month of February and not much more than that in March, 2 weeks straight is pretty awesome.

Being home means being back in the office; that's not neccessarily a bad thing since there's a lot of work still to be done to finish up our 2008 line. The Metro bikes are coming along nicely; I am really excited about this series of bikes. Spec is done, graphics are in the works, so we should have samples in house in a couple of months.

Jumping back to the subject of Taiwan and the Taipei Cycle Show, I really had a good time at the show. It's much different than Interbike in the sense of it's mostly attended by Taiwanese vendors. After attending the show, it really becomes clear that Taiwan really is the center of the bike manufacturing universe. Accept it folks...the vast majority of bikes and parts are coming is from this part of the world. Some manufacturers still manage to cleverly disguise the fact that their products (or at least a portion of their manufacturing process) are being made in Taiwan. It's really interesting when you tour factories over there and see whose products are coming out of the factories. When I toured factories earlier this year, there were numerous times I saw frames from brands I never knew came from Taiwan. It was very enlightening.

Speaking of enlightening, I thought you all might enjoy some "sneak peek" pictures of one of the colors the 2008 Mary SS frame will come in.

The color is called Carolina Blue; it has sort of a semi-gloss finish to it. I'm really stoked on how this frame color turned out. I think it will be a real winner for us. For those of you unfamiliar with our Mary bikes, these are our line of 29" wheel steel hardtails. Named after the CCR song "Proud Mary" (that has a line in about "big wheels keep turning"), we do both a geared and singlespeed version. They are super fun to ride.

Well, that's all I have for now. I'm going to try and make a habit of writing shorter posts...hopefully I'm off to a good start.

Hasta luego.