Category Archives: Cycling News

3/6/07 – Waterford at NAHBS

I’m sitting at home, sick, watching UEFA soccer and reading cyclingnews.com’s report on the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS). Not too bad except for the sick part…

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This show has been held the last 4 springs; most recently in San Jose, CA, and attracts the best artisan bicycle builders in the world. With the addition of Dario Pegoretti, the show is truely intercontinental. If you love unique bicycles that are a departure from the cookie cutter stuff that has become so prolific – this show is worth a look. I hope to attend it someday in person.
The report, while just a sampling of what was on display showed some amazing detail and great ideas from artists like Bilenky, Richard Sachs, Sasha White of Vanilla Cycles, Independent Fabrications, Bryan Baylis, and Peter Mooney. One of my personal favorites and great friends, Waterford Precision Cycles, was also in attendance.
These guys aren’t afraid to try anything – as evidenced by this lugged-steel frame, mating the venerable Reynolds 853 tubeset with the new 953 stainless steel tubing with hand-carved lugs for a truely amazing result.
I’d ask them to build me one, but I’m afraid of what it would cost. The last time I asked them how much a hand-carved lug frameset cost, at Interbike 3 years ago, their reply was “about $5000, depends on the artwork”. And that frame didn’t use any of the new 953 tubes, which cost more than 853 – and which get painstakingly polished; adding man-hours and extra cost to the equation. Needless to say, being married and having a 1-year-old son, I’ll have to find a different line of work before I spend that much on simply a frame. I’ll be happy to sell any of you one though…made-to-measure to perfection. Just call or write for an appointment. You think I’m kidding?
Anyway, here’s links to the rest of the pictures of this frame on cyclingnews’ website (yeah, I lifted the photo above from there too…thanks guys!)
Cyclingnews.com’s coverage of the show

2/16-18/2007 – Minneapolis, MN

When it comes to outdoor activity, it is hard to beat the moderate climate of Middle Tennessee. But even the few snows that we received this winter can’t take the place of a trip to the Great White North for a reminder of what the “4th-Season” really feels like. Nothing like falling snow and a wind-chill of -9 degrees F to give you a dose of a real winter! Al Gore himself couldn’t build a case for global warming in these conditions.

But, while I try to be environmentally conscious, that’s not the only reason I was in Minnesota. I was invited by Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), the largest bicycle parts and accessories supplier in the U.S., to be a part of their annual Open House, called Frostbike. Now, it takes a very special place to draw a bunch of people to Minnesota on their own money in the middle of February – and QBP is that special. Not only are they a leader in the industry for service, technology, prodict availability, and the breadth of products they offer; but their facility in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington is LEED certified for it’s minimal environmental impact. They even recycle rain water for the restroom functions – how “green” is that?!

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So, we’re spending three days clad in wool socks
and our warmest Craft baselayers (and still feeling cold); cruising around the Twin Cities and attending different seminars, product introductions, and strolling the familiar aisles of a trade show. (If you’re used to the Trade Show world, you know what I mean: only the locations change. It could even be in a different country – like the EICMA show in Italy which I attended in September of 2005 – and it feels like you’ve been there before.) But, this time was a little different. Somehow, it was more laid-back and enjoyable. I don’t really know what exactly lent to the relaxed atmosphere, but my feet, back, and brain were thankful. Fewer vendors was definitely a key to the feel; and conducive to being able to spend more time with people you really wanted to talk to – vendors and colleages alike. Spending time with Dan Thornton from FreeFlite Cycles in Atlanta, Jay Graves of Bike Gallery in Portland (which I talk about visiting in my Christmas/New Years update), and Mike Hammanwright of Revolution Cycles in the DC area were highlights of the trip. While I’ve known Dan and Jay for a number of years now, it was a pleasure to finally get to meet the man who is blessed with the task of outfitting Peleton One (the President and his bicycle-mounted Secret Service squad) in Mike. What a genuine and entertaining guy!

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Minneapolis is a very bicycle-friendly city – even in the dead of winter! However, one side of me has to wonder how many of the riders we saw commuting and cycling in general were QBP “plants” just trying to make it look that way! Just kidding. It was definitely too cold to ride though – which didn’t stop everyone. The city has a lot of bike paths – all of which get plowed in the winter to keep them clear and useable. Some of QBP’s employees ride to work year-round; regardless of the weather. Having the infrastructure certainly makes it easier. But, all the bike paths in the world wouldn’t be more attractive than a nice warm car for the commute to work when it’s infinity-below-zero outside. I guess we all have our passions – riding bikes below 30 degrees farenheit just isn’t one of mine.

So, a bike-friendly city must have some great

bike shops, right! No doubt! The Minneapolis area is home to some of the best in the country – and we visited three of them. First was One on One Bicycle Studio at 117 N. Washington in Minneapolis’ downtown Warehouse District. This was truely the most unique of the three. A minimalist, artsy, “vibey” place in the heart of downtown, the bike shop triples as an art gallery and coffee shop. Just a cool place to hang out – like some of my favorite places all rolled into one. A slowly catching-on trend, this shop differs from what we’re used to seeing; rows-upon-rows of bicycles, mall store-like clothing departments, and laboratory-clean service departments. Instead, One on One chooses a boutique style with very few bikes actually on the show floor – merely representing what they have available. This provides an un-cluttered and more personal touch to the selling process. Since One on One doesn’t really sell any entry-level or family-style bikes, this environment is one that I would find it very easy in which to really attend to a client’s needs and help them find the perfect solution for their cycling experience if your target market is solely high-end.

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The entire trip, everyone kept saying that the “do-not-miss” part of One on One is the Basement! I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect or how to feel – and at first, fear prevailed over excitement. However, after ducking down into the stairway adjacent to the coffee bar, all became clear. Well, as clear as things can be in a cluttered basement that puts my parents’ catch-all to shame! No where have I seen a larger, more extensive, more varied and interesting collection of cycling…well…stuff! Hubs, derailleurs, stems, handlebars, chains, cogs, cranks, forks, frames, saddles, seatposts, nuts, bolts and even a few complete bikes are strewn in a pseudo-organized way along the length of the 100+ foot long cellar below the sales floor. If you’re in to oddities, it’s quite interesting. If you’re just a serious bike-buff like me – it’s a real stroll down memory lane. You’re likely to find several bike models you’ve owned down there. Not just the brand, but the very model. Cruisers, road bikes, tandems, BMX, hard-tail, full-suspension, new, old, successful and bicycle-blunders – they’re all there. I’ll have to take some cash with me next time and see if I can score some of the frames I’ve been looking for: A Bridgestone MB-1 and a Barracuda Dos-Equis Team. We’ll see. Anyway, if you go, don’t skip the basement.

Next was Bokoo Bikes in Chanhassen. This store’s claim to fame is as an inspriation for Trek’s Concept Store design (a “template” for store design which includes colors, fixtures, signs and floor layout which is designed by a brand, in this case Trek). It’s quite evident from the moment you step through the automatic double-doors that this building was built for it’s purpose (unlike that of One on One’s…) – to be a world-class bike shop. Like a “Gap for bikes”, Bokoo is clean (read: immaculate), well-stocked, and easy to navigate. It’s well divided into categories to help you find what you’re looking for: Hybrids, kids, mountain, and road bikes all have their own little world. Completed just before Trek rolled out their own concept for how a bike store ought to look and operate, Bokoo Bikes seems to have received a sneak peek at the playbook and even written a few pages. Coordinated color schemes, signage, and displays make this look less like an independently run bike shop (which it is) and more like something you’d find at a factory outlet which is owned, operated, designed and maintained by the brand. Even the service center was clean and organized – something which the best bike shops in the world still strive to do. Repair parts were well stocked and easy to find with their own “out-of-stock” cards, so the inventory manager always knows what needs to be re-ordered. I’m so jealous.

Finally, on our way to the airport to fly home, we went to Penn Cycles’ newest store in Woodbury. Penn Cycle’s claim to fame is that they were the first Trek Dealer. From that point, over 30 years ago to six stores today, with the Woodbury store being converted to a Trek Concept Store just two days after our visit, they’re also an industry benchmark. We spent a great deal of time with Jimmy Joe, the store manager, as he guided us through their store an talked about the intricacies of making the conversion of an existing store to a Concept Store. Penn Cycle had some great ideas for programs and promotions – which Nashville cyclists will be getting familiar with soon as we roll out our own versions. Their years in business have shown them some great ways to provide immense value to their clients without any additional expense to be absorbed by the client or the store – a win-win situation. We can’t wait.

Although I love the North, there’s still nothing like coming home, seeing your family, and sleeping in your own bed – even if you do have to be at work early the next day… Life in the bike business never stops. Even in February.

Thanks for reading…

2/9/07 – Big News from Team Disco

Several big news items came out of the team of reigning U.S. National Champion, George Hincapie, this week. The team released photos and interviews from it’s annual training camp in Solvang, California with an understandably heavy emphasis on new team member Ivan Basso and returning rider Levi Leipheimer. After finding success on Team CSC and Team Gerolsteiner respectively, the two add an explosive element to a team which sat relatively sterile during last season with a few gleaming moments in the Spring Classics (although those moments seemed over shadowed by Hincapie’s shocking and amazing “crash-out” of Paris-Roubaix) and a lack-luster victory by Hincapie at the end of the season in the U.S. National Road Racing Championships. Perhaps the addition of these two riders will be just what the doctor ordered after the departure of Lance Armstrong, now a partial team owner.

disco_camp_64altDuring the training camp, much time was spent fitting the two star riders to their new bikes, Madone 6.9 SSL’s (of which a custom-painted version for one of my clients can be found on the Custom Bike Gallery at BikePedlar.com) and TTX 9.9 time trial bikes. The most surprising comment from Trek/Discovery Team Liason, Scott Daubert, regards Basso: “He told me he was happy to be off a sloping top tube and also likes the stability of the Madone geometry.”
Hmmm, Ivan didn’t like the Cervelo that much…huh? Well, I’ll have to concur; there is just something about that classic geometry. Ivan must be used to that feel from years of riding Italian bikes. I’m not at all surprised that he likes the Trek.

Levi was also excited to get back on a Trek, which feels like home to him after years of riding for the U.S. Postal Service team.

In other news, the Discovery Channel announced today, through USA Today, that they would be ending their sponsorship of the cycling team at the end of this racing season. This comes on the heels of the firing of Discovery Channel’s CEO on Monday, Feb. 5 and a good ol’ housecleaning of the upper-level managers of the other Discovery networks. The new CEO, former NBC executive David Zaslav is creating a lean and mean structure at Discovery and apparently that will involve cutting out sponsorship of the highest-profile professional cycling team, probably ending a relationship with multiple Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year, cancer survivor, and 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Smart move, genius. [sarcasm off] That’s like Nike firing Michael Jordan! This is sure to put more pressure on Basso, Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, and the other riders – many of whom could be leaders on other teams but have chosen to contribute to the greater success of the Discovery organization.

Looks like 2007 is shaping up to be another interesting race season. Bring it on!

Thanks for reading.

11/15/06 – The Saga Continues…

Trek Bicycle Corporation, recently issued the press release quoted below:

November 13, 2006
To: All Trek Dealers
Re: INTERNET FRAUD ALERT
Dear Valued Trek Dealer:
We have received several reports about a fraudulent website which purports to sell Trek bicycles over the internet at deeply discounted prices. The website is currently up and running at
www.marks-bicycles.com. In the past, the same website has appeared under several other names such as www.kenbicycle.com, www.maxbicycle.com, www.volinbicycle.com, and www.mobybicycle.com. [this is also the same website I mentioned in my Oct. 31 2006 entry at the url of www.steves-bikes.com, which has also been shut down.] We have successfully shut this website down several times, only to find that it reappears under a similar domain name shortly thereafter. Other major brands are also featured on the site.
Elsewhere in the press release:


It is a scam. They do not have an actual bike shop, nor do they have any bikes. All of the contact and credit card information used to set up the website is fraudulent. The pictures have been copied from a legitimate bike shop’s website.

If you try to purchase a bike from this website, you’ll find that the only method of payment they accept is wire transfer. If you order a bike and wire them money, they will keep the money, but you will not get your bike. If you call the phone number, you get a recording, not an actual person.
Trek will continue to monitor the site and shut it down whenever we find it. Beyond this, we know of no way to prevent whoever is behind this from doing what they are doing unless the authorities get involved. So far, they have been unwilling to do so. Please inform customers that they should not purchase anything from this website.

7/4/06 – Vive’ le Tour

Yes, it’s cheesy and probably a little cliche’, but I don’t care; this is my favorite time of year! I love the Tour de France. I am one of those geeks who checks out velonews.com and cyclingnews.com several times a day for the latest news and the gear reviews on what the different teams are riding. I set my VCR every day (Bike shop employees don’t make enough to have TiVo…ha, ha) to catch the live action while I’m at work and then watch it when I get home. I can recite the winners of the yellow jersey for the last two decades and then some (which is made easier by the fact that 2 Americans have won ten times and there have been three riders who have won 5 or more times in that time period…thank you Hinault, LeMond, Indurain and Armstrong…see, there I just named half of them.) The month of July is my favorite month – the Tour is my SuperBowl. Heck, the tour even ends on my birthday every once in a while!

And, wow! Was I ever anticipating this year’s race. With Armstrong out, the race was finally as wide open as it has been since Indurain’s fantastic flop in 1996 when current CSC Director Bjarne Riis won. But things started to change back in May when Manolo Saiz was arrested (former Director for the former Liberty Seguros – a.k.a. Astana-Wurth – now Astana squad) on blood doping allegations under what we now know as “Operacion Puerto”. And now, we’re watching a tour lacking many of those who had been tapped as “heirs to the throne” and an entire team with a promising rider (Alexandre Vinokourov; who has not been implicated in the case, but lost enough team members that they did not have a large enough squad to start the race). So, how do I feel now that we do not have Basso, Ullrich, Mancebo, Vino, et. al.?

Illegal use of performance enhancing substances (EPO, blood doping, amphetamines, or the method du jour…) is rampant in professional sports world wide. As a fan of track and field, I’ve watched sadly as many athletes like Ben Johnson and recently Marion Jones have been scrutinized, banned, proclaimed to have damaged the sport or made it “impure” – and yet the sport lives on. Athetes continue to compete for Gold Medals, the drama continues to unfold, and records continue to fall. While it is discouraging to watch people (sometimes our favorites – for me it was Tyler Hamilton and David Millar) try to gain unfair advantages – occasionally at the cost of their health (Tom Simpson’s tragic death in the Tour on a mountain stage) – we must continue to strive to improve drug testing and emphasize the importance of a clean and fair competition.

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