Monthly Archives: December 2008

Christmas day swimming

So it is Christmas Day and family time. Since being in the UK I have been mostly taking care of building furniture for the flat. Internet was activated today, but I’m not at home. I will update tomorrow, when I don’t have to use my phone! Sorry, no cycling related material yet!

Travelling FRA LHR

So the airport is pretty full…. my bags are on the way to the plane as I write this, from the lounge.  Came as a bit of a shock to have to queue to check in today too… I am not used to that.  The other BC and FTLs didn’t seem to be either!

Going home for Christmas!  Horrah… so looking forward to seeing The Pretty One in a couple of ours.  Unfortunately I will be bikeless for two weeks.  Running shoes are packed, so I need to expore the area aound the new flat to see if there is anywhere worth jogging…..  perhaps a gym membership is also in order.

Really tired today as a result of the banquet last night.  I am not going to write much about that, expect to post these pictures!

Meat, and... meat.

Meat, and... meat.

Ergonomics Academy

Quite a lot to catch up on really, not least of all the interior of that hotel….. Oh, and the beautiful area it was in…. this is a picture out of the restaurant window.

Fit Expert

Beautiful setting

The day itself was quite interesting. Theoretical cycling of the highest order! Actually, having a room full of ergonomics and bike fit specialists, as well as materials engineers was really something else, even if it did leave you with more questions than answers by the end. It is clear what people need to be more comfortable on bikes, what isn’t clear is how to achieve that…. I will hand it over to the designers and product managers!

Body scanning bike fit

Body scanning bike fit

It was motivating, although I think a lot was kind of old ground for some of us.  The theory was good, but practical (free bike fitting) might be better!

Taiwan and Asia bashing and more lateness from me!

Those of you who know me, or have been reading between the lines, might know that I am quite an internationally minded person.  Quite aside from having customers all over the globe, and corresponding with them on a regular basis, I am actually fascinated by cultural differences.  I wrote my dissertation on this very topic within European sales and working in the role that I do, I hope that I am learning more every day.  As unsurprising as it is, I have now met some brilliant people from all different cultures.  Fantastic, intelligent, driven, sincere and loyal people.

With this in mind there is a paradox I don’t understand.  Has anyone heard of the Microshift groupset out there?  A quick search of the internet will throw up some pictures of it….. as well as reams and reams of negativity.  The group is also available under the brand name ‘Driven’.  Laughably this is often written off as being a cheap Taiwanese, Chinese, or even better ‘Asian’ copy.  The paradox being of course that the big players are all in Asia…. and the best functionality (perhaps not the most desirable) groupsets are acknowledged to be from Shimano.

I have actually ridden Driven in Las Vegas (more acurately at the Dirt Demo) at Interbike 2008.  Was it good?  Did it shift well… yes.  It didn’t miss a beat.  Was it a copy….?  Well, the peope behind it have been building this stuff longer than I have been interested in bikes.  Can you copy yourself?

I realise that all of this is getting a little bit ‘bike’, or more specifically a little bit ‘ranty’ about industry things, so I will try to change the subject….

I managed to turn up at an hour long meeting today 10 minutes before it was due to end.  We have a fine system at work, so it will cost me.  Actually though, I consider it quite an achievement.  I consider it even more remarkable that no one came to look for me (I was on a call to Switzerland in fairness, but still….)  I think it is the most disgrace that I have brought upon myself while living in the German culture…. so perhaps it really is time to leave?  Actually, that links in quite well with the start of this post…. don’t you think?

Tomorrow sees the whole company spending a day in a Wellness hotel for a conference.  Is wellness a word in English?  I really don’t think so, but it sounds as if it should be…. anyway, I will translate… it is a spa hotel.  Interesting place…. it is reputed to be very good, the decor though…. it doesn’t look like it has been touched since the early 90s!  I will admit that I have only ever been there for meetings though, so I don’t know what the rooms are like.  Its saving grace, as far as I am concerned, is that it is next to a prehistoric volcano (aren’t they all?) which is now a lake.  It is really beautiful, so perhaps I will be able to get some photos.

Product planning

Sometimes there is serious work to be done.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that most of the time there is serious work to be done.

The bike industry is extremely fast moving.  It sounds silly on the face of it but the push forward in terms of technology is relentless.  If you think about mountain bikes, in the last twenty years the progress in transmission, suspension, braking and frame materials is extreme.  From rigid steel bikes, to aluminium frames, suspension forks, full suspension and carbon fibre.  It is a pace that mean that you have need to keep up.  The industry has built a reputation for itself, and the expectation is for something new at the end of the year.

1994 - which is when I got my first proper bike.

1994 - which is when I got my first proper bike.

Don’t misunderstand me.  There is real progress here too.

Currently we are trying to work out the direction and capacity for developing new products.  Not because we have to think of new ideas to keep the momentum.  Ideas really aren’t the problem.  It is the capacity, and the danger of spreading knowledge too thinly, it is also about picking priorities from the wealth of ideas that we have.  What will work best worldwide?  What is the direction that we want to move in?  At the table is a largish group of interested parties.  Everyone is passionate, which is a prerequisite to working there.  It is an enviable position to be in….. but…. well… it is work.  We are all experts in our own way…. but trying to decide what might be required from the brand or demanded from the public in a couple of years time is extremely demanding.

I am tired today as a result.  The riding yesterday seems like a distant memory.  On the upside, I see a Boeing 737 in my near future – Christmas will be spent back in the UK, and I am beginning to count down the days.

It wasn’t riding with Tom Danielson, but….

Well the ride today wasn’t like riding with Tom Danielson like my buddy Jeff got to, but it wasn’t like I rode with the local Sunday club either! Two former A class (Cat 1) license holders, one Continental Pro, Team Topeak Ergon’s team manager, myself and one of the brother’s from the other guys. I wasn’t the weakest there, so that was pleasing. It would have been nice had I have had any energy bars to take with me, but unfortunately I had appeared to have eaten them all! This meant that I only had a gel with me… and some cheap Aldi cereal bars. Not great.

I got to our meeting point at work at 9.33 (the three minutes of lateness is something my German friends have had to get used to from me). Dirk, and Sascha were already there, although Dirk at least had the good sense to not add the 20 mile to his journey by riding to the meeting point and back. I suppose having the team bus helps this decision!

Team Bus

Team Bus

It was cold this morning.  In fact it was cold the whole day.  Temperatures were around freezing point, and a little above in certain areas.  With the sun, we were seeing plus 6 degrees…. but turn a corner and immediately in a sheltered area, the temp would be a lot lower.  The ride left work and then crossed the Rhine river over a railway bridge, with a wooden walkway to ride over.  There is a danger with this bridge that a slat or two might be missing, so I didn’t want to take a photo.  It is also about two bars width wide.  Not a good place to bin it!  At the other end we picked up the other riders.

Impressive bridge

Impressive bridge

I decided to ride my own pace… which actually means attacking at stupid moments, then suffering for the rest of the climb.  For me, that is enjoyable.  If I got spat out the back as a result, I had told myself that I would allow them to wait…. if it happened again, I would make my own way home.  It didn’t.

The ride route I would love to tell you.  But I can’t.  Not because I am keeping secrets, but more because that was the point.  I don’t really know many good rides around here!  I just don’t know my way around, and I really don’t pay any attention to the names of towns that I ride through.  What I do know is that I was apprehensive, because this was by far the longest ride i have done for a while.  What I had forgotten is how much easier group riding is.

The ride saw a fair amount of climbing, with a max gradient of 11% (and 15% on one of the descents).  I think the highest we got was about 370m above sea level.  Certainly it was above the snow line.

Real Snow

Real Snow

When we got back, I had 110.49km on my bike computer.  I would love to give you all of the details about the max temperature and a profile… but since there is no software for my Mac to pull that off the computer, I am a little stuck.  Certainly dropping the bike computer on the stairs on the way up to my apartment didn’t help either!

More pics….

Yes, it takes a lot of cleaning

Yes, it takes a lot of cleaning

Perfect winter weather

Perfect winter weather

This is one of the reasons for being here!

This is one of the reasons for being here!

My evening has been completely uneventful.  Lots of food, and not much else.  The bike is a state, but I can’t be bothered to clean it right now.  I am thinking about bed now, and it is 9.35pm!

Sunday morning warm bed cosy and delightful

Shame really… because I have agreed to ‘try’ to ride about 70 miles / 110km today. Silly I know. It is between -2C and +5C outside. Wish me luck.