Monthly Archives: October 2010

How many staff?

I think that I have boarded 49 flights so far this year. The majority of them are with Lufthansa, and are just short hops – but I have never seen the same flight attendants – ever. Perhaps it is like that episode of the Simpsons, where the ten pin bowling pins were thrown away after each use?!

(sorry, defaulting to German as in Germany)

On another note, perhaps this is all about to be replaced by DB in the near future – 4 hours to Cologne from London…… I need to do the maths on this…….

Home to Heathrow – 20min
Check in and waiting at Airport – 1 hour
Flight time, alighting etc – 1 hour 40 mins
Waiting for train in FRA up to 1 hour
Train to Koblenz – 1 hour 10 mins.

Total time – 5hrs 10 mins

On the other hand

Home to Station – 10 mins
Train Central London 30 – 40 mins
Tube across London to Euro Tunnel Terminal 20 mins
Check in and waiting – 30 mins
Train to Cologne – 4 hrs
Transfer time – 30 mins
Train to Koblenz – 1 hours

Total time 7 hrs 10mins

Hmmm…… not looking that good is it? It would have to be about £50 return for me to consider that! I wonder though what parking costs in Ashford, Kent? Then again, the 15 mins home to Heathrow is half the reason why we live there. Seems ironic not to use it.

I know and love these trains (what, I am a geek). They are so smooth and fast, with plenty of room. Hopefully it will make the UK train companies step up their game. Funny, I always thought that they were wider than rolling stock in the UK and wouldn’t be accommodated. Perhaps the high-speed line for the tunnel is different though. That wouldn’t surprise me either.

The ICE is expensive – there is no doubt about that. You pay a premium in Germany to travel via ICE and it is designed to compete with very comfortable and fast German cars. In a country where you can sit for an hour at 120mph on the Autobahn distances aren’t as big as they are in the UK. Trains have to be extra special good to compete. As good as the ICE is, when I still lived full time in Germany it would be £8 taxi to station, £50 train fare to airport, £8 taxi back from the station, yet it didn’t always win over taking my car to Frankfurt Airport (£40 petrol and £65 parking for a weekend) as the convenience is king. Add to this that when there are delays, airports have nice lounges which I get to use – with free food and drink – plus should something go really wrong, there are EU directives to ensure that the airline puts me up in a hotel over night (if they are at fault) and it is difficult to see me swapping to the train.

Well, perhaps just once. To test it out.


Hectic times

Wow, so much on.

Thursday night got home to the UK kind of late, after meeting with a friend in Frankfurt for dinner. Landed at 22.30, then taxi and all that. Finally in bed about 0.30. Had the nice Lufthansa plane with the retro livery (I think an A321). Got told off for converting the middle seat into a table like they do for business class. I just shrugged.

Friday I went to see the accountant, Wiggle and then two friends around the Portsmouth area. Having worked 11 days straight, I was quite happy to call it a day midday Friday.

Yesterday I got up relatively early, then wasted most of the day doing trivial rubbish around the house. I then decided that rather than doing nothing for the entire day, that I would drive to Bristol to see the end of the bike race I had intended doing! So off I went (didn’t do the race, as very conscious of burning the candle at both ends). This was then followed by a curry with a load of friends down in Bath (where some of them are students – I was offered a bed for the night but politely declined). I then hopped back in the car to drive home. Bed by 2am.

Very very proud of myself though. I am seeing lots of my friends.

Not everyday

that you walk into the kitchen at work to get a cup of coffee, and sitting there, all tiny smily and chatty is Irina Kalentieva – World Champion Mountain Biker. It was nice to catch up. She is off to Russia tomorrow, but unfortunately we wont be at FRA at the same time (interested to see what class she flies to be honest!)

Surfing a wave

Sometimes there are instances of product placement, which simply leave me astounded. Some of them are so good, and so well carried out that I simply salute those involved.

Oakley sunglasses are by far the market leader. I purchased my first pair at the age of 14, and despite getting glasses through work pretty much for free now, I still prefer Oakley. The are the default. Oakley glasses? Tick……. I own 3 pairs at present.

Everyone followed the plight of the Chilean miners trapped for a couple of months underground. In the age of the internet, many many people tuned in to see them ‘pop out’ live on TV or on the Internet. Twitter and Facebook alerted anyone not following the news live that it was happening – this brought me to tune in and when I did, I couldn’t help but well up with respect for the Oakley PR people (okay, seeing these people emerge after two and a bit months was pretty emotional too)! What had Oakley done? Well obviously some bright spark had sent down a box of brand new super dark Oakley glasses for each miner to wear as they popped out. Although done at night to protect their eyes, the media and lighting used to help the rescuers was providing a lot of glare. Trapped underground for weeks on end, someone somewhere had thought about this. And Oakley were there with their glasses. Each miner wearing a pair of black frames with contrasting Oakley logo.

How many photos will be taken? This is news beamed into every living room worldwide tonight. Every newspaper tomorrow will cover it. And there, surfing the wave is Oakley.

BBC News' Image

It was brilliant.

Now where do I find PR people like that?

Good morning?

5.40 Alarm
5.41 Shower
5.50 Dressed
6.00 Taxi
6.04 Cashpoint
6.18 Heathrow Terminal 1
6.25 checked in
6.28 cleared security
6.30 HMV
6.38 BMI lounge for breakfast
6.52 Final call – walk to the gate
6.55 On Jet-Way (air bridge) waiting
7.05 Discussion with flight attendant about Lufthansa’s cabin baggage allowance which she appears not to know
7.07 In seat 26c waiting for pushback
7.14 Safety instructions given
7.14 Pushback for a full 7.15 flight, awesome.
9.50 unload onto bus (slept the entire flight – again, awesome)
10.00 Cleared customs
10.08 White Coffee Mocha ordered in Starbucks
10.09 – 10.13 Walk to Lufthansa ticketing in FRA
10.14 invited to the desk to talk about my return ticket
10.33 parted with £150 to change return by 24 hours
10.41 Railway station
10.42 Realise train is running 20mins late – disconnect for my local train from Koblenz (my destination)
11.18 Train to Mainz
11.34 Change trains
11.51 Train to Koblenz – beautiful day. Not a cloud. Rhine looking very picturesque.
12.51 Arrive Koblenz
12.58 Check in to hotel “Mr Worksrider – good to see you again, there is mail for you here”
13.18 Jump into Taxi (rather than the local train). Brand new E-Class. Very nice.
13.31 Arrive at HQ – pay taxi 17 euros (own money!)
13.32 Join meeting only 32 minutes late.

London Cycle reconsidered!

There are some great brands here, and it isn’t as bad as I perhaps made out. That was a dis-service to the brands who have shown up. SRAM and Campagnolo for example (perhaps remember that UK cyclists when buying your next bike) are both here with large stands. Specialized are also here, Exposure Lights, Brompton, Hope, Rolf Wheels, Singletrack Magazine, ERGON, Topeak, Brooks, Fizik, Whyte, Marin, Colnago and many more. Perhaps what I am forgetting is that most people here will not have been to Eurobike. In many respects they don’t know what they are missing. EB is too large as well. You just don’t get to see it all!

The show is very personal and good to take in one afternoon. The advantage of the maligned test tracks is that there is something for the whole family to do. British Cycling and Transport For London Are also here. Very good to see.

I leave you with pictures.

Tomorrow Germany, Friday Home, Weekend Bristol Beer Festival (bike race) perhaps, following week Munich and Seoul! Busy!

In full swing and utterly disappointing

The London Cycle Show is in full swing. It is of a reasonable size, but I am disappointed for non-trade exhibitors. Is this really the best UK consumers deserve? Sure there are a good number of brands represented, but not the brands themselves – just their distributors, and then only with limited floorspace. Why don’t brands themselves come? Big brands? No Shimano, Trek, Cannondale, Crank Brothers, Tacx, DT, Magura, Ritchie, Selle Italia, Giant? The small brands will follow. Is the second largest European cycling Market unimportant to these brands? Does London, a proper World metropole, not offer a customer base to them? Can the big brands not find the budget to treat their loyal customers to a bit of flare and glamour?

Whatever the reason, and it is to do with the cost of the show, the number of international shows and events this weekend (Roc d’Azur in the South of France for example) it is still a disgrace. Yes, this is my third show in 5 weeks, but I am there. The cost of it – well this is insane. It costs more than the largest and most important show of them – Eurobike. What’s more there is a visitors ticket system which is so open to abuse that one wonders just how many people paid £15 to get in – those who did should feel ripped off.

Give away show space. Make it cheaper for brands to attend. Attract the largest brands and everyone else will follow. The Austrian show was amazing by comparison. Make a show which the visitors will feel is worth the money. forget large ‘test tracks’ which consume lots of space – they’re too small to give you a feel for anything.

it just baffles me how it can continue to miss the mark again and again.