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.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Taipei Bike Show, Day 3

After accidently deleting all my pictures from yesterday, I made a point to go walk around a little bit today so I wouldn't leave the show so empty-handed. Some are re-shoots of some of the stuff I took yesterday, some are pictures of stuff I didn't catch yesterday.

Neat commuter bike with Brooks saddle, Shimano Alfine group, and stainless steel looking fenders and racks.

Here's a pretty cool road bike...I don't know if the strawberries are paint or not, they looked more like decals. The red chain and pedals were a nice touch.

Looks good enough to eat...strawberries and cream!

And here's a cool fixie from Fixie Inc. I saw these guys at Eurobike...they do some sweet stuff. Very simple with nice attention to detail.

Here are some pedals in interesting a more conservative colorful ti one.

Yes, this is a tradeshow booth. Kindshock.

OK, well, I actually need to get on a plane to come home now. I'm really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight...or is a looong flight home.

Happy trails!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Taipei Bike Show, Day 3

Yesterday was the day I was supposed to take most of the day to walk the show and take a few pictures of all the cool stuff I saw. Well, I did walk the show and I did see some really cool stuff. Additionally, I saw some really funny stuff which I took pictures of. I also went to the top of Taipei 101, the world's tallest building and took some pictures there. However, I have nothing to show for it because somehow all the pictures I took yesterday got deleted in the download process; and since I choose the option to delete the images off of my memory stick after downloading, they are all gone. I think I may have selelcted the "view images in selected folder" instead of "copy images to selected folder". I am too bummed for words.

So today I'm posting a picture of my cat Tommi. When I was frantically searching my computer in effort to find my missing pictures, I ran across a picture of her and it made me smile through my near tearful state. She's a cutie and I miss her when I'm gone.

Ciao for now.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Taipei Bike Show, day 1

Hello out there, bike fans, and welcome to the first day of the Taipei Bike Show. Unfortunately, since I had pretty much non-stop meetings with vendors all day today t0 view new product, I really didn't the chance to take too many cool pictures. I hope to get the time to walk the show a bit today and take some for ya'll.

We did see some neat things that I did get some pictures of. The first was this little electric car. It's just a little one-seater, but it sure is cute. According to the girl working the booth, they have already received considerable interest and orders from Europe for these little cars.

Smaller than a Smart Car!

We also stumbled across this ti frame manufacturer who does some nice work. We just might be chatting with them in the future about doing some work for us about a project I won't discuss at this time, but will be cool I promise. Here's one of their drop-outs:


Not a Haro, but still very cool is this city/metro bike that Giant is doing called the City Storm. Beautiful lines on this bike and very functional with a built in headlight, built-in cable lock, and wide variety of different pannier options for a personalized look. Since we are working on a metro bike project at the moment for Haro, bikes like this are of real interest to me right now.

So there are a few pictures for you to chew on. I'll do my best to get more today.

OK, this is going to sounds like a total chick statement, but one of the things I noticed about this show that differs from Interbike are all of the flower arrangements that the exhibitors have displayed in the booths. Suppliers and family members send flowers with messages of good luck and they are just beautiful. I'll get some pics of those today, too. If you guys don't like them, I know my mom will love them if she ever reads my blog.

Yesterday ended with a really wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant with our good friend Kendall Young and his boss Steve from Ritchey components. We all love Kendall...he's a great guy and is as goofy as the rest of us, so we always manage to have a great time when we all hang out. We spec a lot of Ritchey on both Haro and Masi and have for many years, so he's like part of the family.

OK, time for breakfast and to get ready for Taipei Bike Show day 2.

Happy trails!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Greetings from Taipei!

I't's that time of the year...time for the Taipei Bike Show. This is the first year I have attended the show, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what it's all about. I'm sure not all that radically different from Interbike or Eurobike, but I'm still looking forward to saying "been there, done that" after the show is over.

It's a loooong flight over here. All in all, my traveling crew and I spent close to 24 hours traveling when you take flight times and layovers into consideration. Long time with no sleep. We got into Taipei right around 8pm; and by the time we went through customs, met up with our driver, drove to the hotel, and got a bite to eat at the McDonald's down the street, I think I went to be around 11pm or so.
Day one was more or less a free day, so we decided to take advantage of it by doing a little walking around the main street outside our hotel. We're at the San Want Hotel in downtown Taipei which is actually pretty nice. Their logo is this funny little happy baby; he's imprinted on everything from the towels in the bathroom to the iron work outside the building.

Very happy San Want baby.
We did a little shopping and just took in the sights, sounds, and smells of downtown Taipei. Taipei is extremely Westernized; the majority of the population speaks English which makes it really easy to communicate and get around the city. We had fun, as you can see here:

Later that afternoon, we made our way over to the Taipei Hyatt for Velo's big gala dinner. Having experienced some of these types of parties before, we arrived a few hours early so we could eat beforehand. I know that seems somewhat rude, but let's just say sometimes the food is really "authentic" and sometimes not terribly appealing to Americans. The Hyatt was adjacent to the convention center where the show is being held and right next to Taipei 101, the world's tallest building.

The gala itseld was really cool; they did a full 2008 product presentation complete with these little Asian teenagers who pranced around in tight clothes and showed the product to everyone.

The food did not disappoint us...we were glad we made that stop to TGI Friday's right before. Some of it wasn't bad, but some of it was well, authentic.

Stella Yu, Velo's lady in charge, is just a little firecracker of a woman. Not only is she one of the most powerful people in the cycling industry, but the woman knows how to party and expects all of her employees to know how to party as well. There were 400 people at this event, and the Velo girls were everywhere, making sure all attendees were toasted. I think all of Stella's employees must have left more than just a little toasted themselves. Here's a picture of the legend herself along with myself and Masi Guy Tim Jackson:

Anyhow, gotta run down to breakfast. Today is the first day of the show, so hopefully I'll have another report and some pictures later today.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

WOW no more

Sadly, I just got word that the Women's Only Weekend (WOW) mountain biking skills clinic weekend held annually in Big Bear, CA won't be happening this year. I can proudly say I have been a volunteer instructor at this event for the past 7 consecutive years. Many female cycling legends such as Leigh Donovan, Mercedes Gonzales, April Lawyer, Lisa Sher and others either got their start at Women's Only Weekend or have been instructors at some point during their careers.

Tireless promoter of this event Ann Hall, along with Team Big Bear, have made this weekend possible for well over 10 years. At its peak, we had over 300 participants (I think that may have been in 2002, but I'd have to check) who came from all over the USA to attend this special weekend. Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances (some known, some unknown) attendance was down significantly in 2006, so WOW will be on hiatus until further notice.

Many thanks to Ann Hall and Team Big Bear for their efforts in supporting and promoting women's mountain biking over the years! With any luck, the event will be back again in the future...and you can bet that I'll be there as an instructor again.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

2007 National Bike Summit

This past week, I had the chance to live the life of a political lobbyist in Washington DC. Given the fact that I am really not all that much into politics, that entire sentence just seems like a giant personal contradiction!

I was invited, along with my collegue Tim "Masi Guy" Jackson, to attend the National Bike Summit in Washington DC as the guests of the esteemed bicycle advocacy organization, Bikes Belong. I was just one of about 450 attendees from all over the nation who came to learn more about bicycle advocacy issues, be educated on how to lobby Congressmen/women and Senators about our issues, and then take the message straight to Capitol Hill.

The trip to DC was long but thankfully uneventful. After about 12 hours worth of flying and airport layovers, we landed in an unseasonably warm DC. Despite being tired and hungry, we managed to make it to our hotel via the Metro without even getting lost. Off to a good start.

View inside the Metro station

The next day started early as we needed to catch the Metro over to the Ronald Reagan Building/International Trade Center to attend our first day of meetings which started at about 7am. As we walked into the courtyard, it was suddenly very clear that we were indeed in the nation's capitol. The architecture is very much like so many of the other buildings in DC...stately, sophisticated, and powerful. Of course, the interior was equally impressive...lots of glass, metal, and marble. There was even a colorful piece of the Berlin Wall stationed right inside the front entrance.

The first day consisted of a series of "breakout sessions" where you can pick and choose from a variety of topics. In the morning, I chose to attend sessions presented by IMBA. After lunch, I attended a session that discussed the economic benefits of cycling. The day wrapped up with some advocacy training and a recap of the 5 basic "asks" that we were going to be lobbying members of Congress and the Senate for. So what are those "asks"? Funny you should mention it...

  • Support of the Bicycle Commuter Act. Currently, people who use forms of public transportation such as metro, subway, vanpool, and bus are eligible for a tax-exempt benefit of up to $110 per month from their employers who chose to participate in the program. Employers receive a tax benefit in exchange for offering this fringe benefit to their employees. There is a bill in both the House and the Senate that is seeking to change the way the current tax code is written to extend the definition of "transportation" to include "bicycles".

  • Fully fund the "Conserve by Bicycling" program. The 2005 Energy Policy Act established a program to determine the potential energy savings and impact of switching certain car trips to bicycle trips. The bill was passed, but the funds have not yet been appropriated for this program.

  • Preserve bicycle access in natural areas and increase funding for the NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program. The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) wants to see alternatives to protecting land that will allow continued access to bikes. Wilderness Area designation does not allow for bicycle access; IMBA supports different designations such as National Scenic Area, National Portection Area, etc. that will offer equal or greater land protection without prohibiting bicycle use. IMBA would also like to see Congress increase Funding for the RTCA program to $12 million. This program's funds are used to restore river and wildlife habitat, develop and maintain trails, and preserve open space.

  • Join the Congressional Bike Caucus. The more involved members of Congress are with cycling-related issues, the more likely they will be to support cycling initiatives. Currently, there are 140 House members and 16 Senators in the Caucus.

  • Support the US Bicycle Route Network. There are plans in the works to establish a series of interconnected urban/rural bike routes thoughout the nation similar to those being created in Europe, South America, and Canada.

Whew! That's a lot of issues and a lot to learn in one day. On that note, we were released for the day with instructions to go back to our hotels, read up on these issues, and be prepared to discuss them with the Congressional and Senatorial staffers we met with the next day on Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill!!! How many people can say they've lobbied on the Hill before? Pretty cool.

As smooth as the first couple of days went, getting to Capitol Hill the next day was a complete cluster. A fire on the Red Line of the Metro (our line) shut the damn thing down moments before we were walking into the Metro station. Two hours later, we arrived at our destination but missed breakfast and the opening speakers. But, the show goes on as we immediately got into our little groups organized by state and hit the halls. The first few meetings were unscheduled and what are known as "drive-bys" where you stop by the Congressman/woman's office and ask to meet with one of their staffers (rarely do you ever get to meet with the Congress member). With apropriations meetings happening on that day, we pretty much struck out each time; not one staffer was available. In cases like this, we briefed the receptionist about who we were, what we were asking for, and asked to leave behind some information.

Later that afternoon, we had meetings scheduled with staffers from both Sen. Barbara Boxer's and Sen. Diane Feinstein's offices. We met with Sen. Boxer's staffer in one of the Senatorial hearing rooms. It felt so official and made you wonder what types of other hearings happened in that room over time.

Sen. Boxer's staffer, Ken Kopocis speaks to the CA group.

For the meeting with Sen. Feinstein's staffer, we actually got to meet in her office. It was pretty cool to look around the office and see pictures of her with other politicians and family members. It really made you feel like you were seeing something not too many other people have had the fortune to see. Sen. Feinstein's staffer, Kit Batten, was really cool. She was a cyclist herself and seemed to be really interested in what we had to say and the issues we were presenting.

After the 2 meetings with the Senator's we had a really nice reception in the Russell Senate Office Building Caucus Room. Typical fare like beer, wine, cocktails, and appetizers...only all the trashcans in the room had were imprinted with the official US Senate logo on them. Very impressive...and the food wasn't bad either.

Reception in the Russell Senate Building

And on that note, that's a wrap on the Summit. After we had our fill of wine and little snacks, we headed back to the hotel (in the RAIN) so we could pack our bags to head home early the next morning.

I can definitely say I walked away from this event with a much better understanding of the way our government works. More importantly as it pertains to my industry and my passion for cycling, I came away with the desire to be a better cycling advocate both personally and professionally. I will save those particular topics for another time as I have already taken up so much of your time with this hideously long post. I will leave with with a few random pics from the trip, including one of me in a suit. And that, my friends, is something you don't see very often so you better take a look while you can.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cyclocross Sunday!

Wow, 2 posts in 2 days! Aren't you lucky. I guess I'm starting to really get into this whole blog thing. I'm sure it will be a lot more fun once I get some more readers; right now I think Tim "Masi Guy" Jackson is my only reader. And I'm not real sure if he reads because he's actually amused by my writing or if he simply just feels obligated to do so since he's been bugging me to start a blog for at least 102 years.

I really can't call today an R & D day because today's ride was a cyclocross ride at Lake Hodges on my Masi CXR. I have nothing to do with Masi other than just giving Tim grief on a regular basis. Much like singlespeeding, up until about 6 months ago, I thought cyclocross bikes were pretty damn silly. I mean, who would want to ride what's essentially a road bike on dirt? Well, my feelings changed pretty quick when curiosity got the best of me and I decided to kidnap one of Tim's demo CXR's and take it on a lunchtime ride at a nearby park that used to host some 'cross races. I had a complete blast. Much like a road bike on the pavement, the offroad speed is addictive. The CXR is light, nimble, and so much fun. Needless to say, I have added yet another bike to the stable by acquiring a CXR.

Masi CXR with flowers...yes, it's a chick thing.

Now I don't claim to be an expert on cyclocross bikes by any means. Hell, I have never been to a cyclocross race (that may change now that I have this bike). But I'd like to think I know a thing or two about having fun...and this bike is just plain fun. Sure, there are certain sections of rocky trail where it beats living snot out of me, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Lake Hodges is pretty flat and non-technical with lots of fireroad sections, so this bike is perfect out there. In fact, I had so much fun ripping around the fireroads, I even took the longer spur out through the San Pasqual Valley making the whole ride about 20 miles.

One of the reason why I was feeling so energetic may have been because my butt wasn't killing me for once. You would think 10 years of cycling would cure that, but it hasn't. I have the worst time finding saddles I like. Anyhow, I decided to try one of the Axiom H-Spec Race DLX saddles that my good friends up at Norco Bikes gave me (Norco distributes Haro in Canada and also distributes Axiom components).

Axiom H-Spec Race DLX

I was I am everytime I try a new saddle...but ended up being pleasantly surprised. This saddle is pretty sweet. Axiom has engineered their line of saddle to be use specific rather than gender specific. After examining different riding styles, they found that different riding styles and positions often creates different pressure points. For this particular saddle, the H-Spec Race DLX, this is a road performance saddle designed to be used on that type of bicycle where the rider tends to sit in more of an "aggressive" position, rather than a relaxed "upright" position. After 20 offroad miles on this saddle, I didn't have any chafing or other indications of pressure points.

For things that go bump on the trail/road.

The H-Spec Race DLX also has these unique elastomer bumpers that the rails slide into. It really seems to help soften the blows a bit. And this saddle weighs in at a respectable 280 grams. Good stuff.

I also met up with some cool folks on the trail; a group of guys, 2 of which were on Haro bikes. I think it may have been a father and son with Dad on a Shift R5 and son on an Extreme X6. They commented on my Haro jersey and started raving about thier bikes. Nice! I love stuff like that. Had I actually been using the grey matter between my ears, I should have taken their picture and put it on our website and here on the blog. I think I will make a point to carry my digital camera with me on all my rides just for stuff like that...doing a "fan sightings" section on the Haro website might be pretty cool.

Allrighty ya'll. Enjoy what's left of your weekend before the workweek starts all over again.

Happy trails!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Boy, I really love my singlespeed (Or Saturdays are R & D days, Part One)

I really, really dig my Mary SS singlespeed. Not that this is any big relevation or anything, but the poor thing has been out of commission for several months so I haven't been able to ride it. I finally got her put back together this past week, so I took out to Daley Ranch this morning. I can honestly say I had forgotten just how much I love this bike!

Ain't she purdy?

Several years ago, I was definitely one of those people who said, "Now why the hell would I want to ride a bike with just one gear?". I had heard people rave about how fun singlespeeds were, but still I resisted. I had friends who started riding them, many of whom ditched gears in favor of owning just singlespeeds. I thought they were nuts. Finally, one day my friend and co-worker, Wayne Doran (who is now one of the MTB Product Managers I work closely with), convinced me to just borrow his and give it a shot. I caved in, and became instantly hooked. As they say, the rest is history.

Singlespeeds are awesome because they are just so simple. Cosmetically, they have such a clean look. Fewer cable housings, less crap on your bars, and just a single gear graces the drop-out area at the rear of the bike. Performance-wise, it sort of makes you feel like a kid again. No gears to fuss just ride and enjoy. Since there isn't a rear derailleur on the bike, noisy chainslap and derailleur slap against the chainstay is non-existant. It's so quiet.

Singlespeeds also rule because no matter what, you look like a hero on the trail. If you don't make it to top of some gnarly, technical, steep climb and are forced (or choose) to hop off and walk up, you just smile and tell your riding buddies, "Hey, I'm on a singlespeed". Or, if you happen to be in the mood to completely blow yourself up and make it to the top of said climb, it's perfectly acceptable to say, "Yeah! And I did it on a singlespeed!".

Today was also sort of an R & D ride as I decided the throw a host of new parts on the bike last week. Most notable was the Bontrager Switchbalde 29er fork.


I really liked it. 29ers have this magical way of smoothing out the trail due to higher volume tires and larger wheel size, so suspension forks are optional. The Switchblade is a nice upgrade over steel; it's light and the carbon really dampens the trail vibrations. The fork has just enough flex to be compliant on the chattery stuff, but stiff enough to make me feel like I'm climbing like a rock star (even if I'm not!).

I also tried out this really cool adjustable stem that my friend Monie sent me. Monie's the man behind NVO Components and they do some pretty innovative stuff.

High, low, maybe so.

The neatest thing about this stem is it allows you to really fine-tune the fit of your bike without using a bunch of stackers. If you want to make adjustments trailside, it's easy accomplished with the twist of an allen wrench.

Although this really isn't a "new" product, I did try the Kenda Karma 29" tires for the first time.

Up close and personal with my Karma

These worked great on the type of terrain out at Daley. Low knob height roll smooth on the fireroads, but there is just enough bite for cornering, climbing, and some of those sand traps out there.

I threw these funky grips on last week.

Get a grip.

They are actually a grip we use on some of our beach cruiser type bikes, but I thought they look neat. They worked surprisingly well...super comfy and had more "grip" than I thought they would.

I also tried out a new hydraulic disc brake from a famous brake manufacturer who will remain nameless since I signed on of those non-disclosure dealios. All I can say is they rock and will be getting placement on several of our bikes for 2008.

OK kids, try to get out and ride your bikes this weekend. It's supposed to be about 85 or 90 degrees here tomorrow, which means Sunday will likely be another R & D day. I just might have another equally amusing post for you tomorrow.

Hasta luego!