Category Archives: Work

Everyone is talking about cycling

Where to start.

So much has changed in my sport recently. As a kid, I watched the Tour de France, on channel 4 for just 30mins each night. I dreamt of the race, but the riders always seemed so far removed from who I was. Exotic Europeans living in countries back then I had no idea about. Even in 1994 with Chris Boardman riding in the Tour, it still seemed like anomalies. It returned to normal service almost instantly with their departure.

Now though, we have Wiggo. A British Tour de France winner who appears to be a normal bloke. No, in fact he is a normal bloke. Someone who you could imagine being in your own cycling club. Actually, I am user that there are people in your cycling club who have way bigger egos than him.

Watching Wiggins win the Tour de France, and Froome take second, as well as Cav take stages and Millar take stages brought tears to my eyes. Tears which returned watching Wiggins win Olympic Gold. Suddenly people are talking about my sport. The Olypmics track cycling is likely to bring further success. It feels a bit like I have arrived – it also feels slightly like the secret is out!

The day of the final stage of the Tour (a sprinters stage, with Wiggins overall win already assured)I rode 65miles into the Peak District. I saw so many Team Sky jerseys, as well as genuine British Cycling team members riding. Let’s hope the momentum continues – I look forward to the day I go to a bar and don’t have to request they put the cycling on!

Sorry I haven’t written for a while. I have been busy. I built a bike.

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An update – quiet times

I haven’t posted for a week. I realised that this was becoming a little like a training blog, and a boring one at that. I rode today, I rode yesterday…. Blah, blah. So I thought I would leave it for a bit and write about something else.

This last week involved quite a lot of time off. Monday and Tuesday were holidays in the UK. Germany has loads of holidays too. In fact I hadn’t taken the recent ones, saved them up and took the UK ones instead. Then Thursday was a German holiday, so I took that too. It sounds lazy, but this is my quiet period. Selling in new products to distributors is difficult, and they can only sell what they can sell in the middle of the season. Yes, advertising helps, but advertising needs to be international – and doing that is expensive. A lot of my time at the moment unfortunately is taken up explaining why products which should have delivered haven’t. As you can imagine, this is not much fun. The weather is also critical in this industry. Good weather sells bikes and accessories, shitty weather, well only the hardcore cyclists go out in that. As far as OEM sales go, there is just research to be done. Meeting with people and presenting products takes place from the Munich ISPOBike show this year, then Eurobike, Interbike and the others in between. The product managers at the bike companies arent really specifying the 2014 bikes yet – and certainly not in the detail that our products are on their minds yet.

To motivate people, a few distributor visits are perhaps called for. That said, going without a set target for the visit, other than talking to the sales reps, makes it feel a bit too much like a nice day out. I am very aware that I don’t want to take advantage.

I have been riding too. Last Tuesday, 138km, then nothing for the rest of the week (giving my legs a rest). Some visits to the gym in the building two days running for some rowing, another massage, and some time on bike on rollers doing spin ups (up the rpm until you can’t go any faster then try to hold it). I am in Germany now, after an eventful journey yesterday. Just did a fast flat ride, 43km at 34.4km/h, then another 5km to warm down, so a balance of 49km averaging 32.7km/h. My legs are quite tired now!

Next week, well time for a summer holiday I think. 🙂

Road (air) trip

On the road again. Today I was in Austria at KTM – a customer. The town they are in seems to belong to them, and their namesakes in the Motorcycle side of the business. Three massive buildings.

It was an early start, and so this was my office this morning.

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I have also driven about 400miles today in a brand new 4×4. More about that later. At a friends house near Ingostadt now, and very tired.

Worksriding

Working at a bike company usually means that you all like bikes. Those who have no interest eventually give in and end up with bike or 7. What we don’t often get to do together though is ride. Everyone has a different rhythm. When R&D is super busy and pushed for time, sales is more relaxed. When sales is relaxed, normally this is in the lead up to a show – getting everyone out on bikes at the same time is difficult.

Today we managed it, and I have to say I was impressed. Everyone rode well, and although not everyone was of the same level, no one was really left behind. I managed to push myself quite hard a couple of times, working with one of our product managers, to sprint back to the group (usually as I had dropped off to take photos).

At the end of the day, I had (including riding to work and back), around 65km. It isn’t looking like a bad week so far, but I think the riding is over, back on an aeroplane tomorrow.

Riding around here is so nice though. I must admit I miss living in Germany for that very reason. Good roads and varied terrain. The weather today even played along, and the ride included a beer garden stop (alcohol free Weiss beer).

There were some nice bikes on the road today too!

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One of those days.

(written on Wednesday)

Right now I am sat in a taxi. I am in Denmark going to a meeting hurtling at high speed to my destination. The time is 2:36pm. My meeting is at 3pm and the flight back departs at 6pm. I just arrived and rushed through the airport. I expected my partners here to pick me up. I walked around the airport. I called them, and sought out a different number and rang that too. No answer on anyone’s mobile. So, I call reception. “I’m sorry sir, they are in a meeting and cannot come to the phone.”

“I know that – I am supposed to be at that meeting too, but am at the airport. Is anyone coming for me?”

Apparently not. So I am in a taxi. No idea what this will cost, but I suppose it is one of those things. I checked through the emails – no mention of a pickup by either of us, so it is my fault for not checking.

An expensive day out all in all then.

Just keep telling yourselves that it is all jet setting and champagne people. One day it might be true.

Haven’t let up….

I keep traveling. Easter saw me visit my parents, The Pretty One’s family, my grandparents, TPO’s cousin, and numerous friends. A big triangle of driving. There was the odd ride or run in the, but actually far too much time in the car. The North West to The South West to The South East, then back on Easter Monday for work on Tuesday. No big deal perhaps, but this last weekend saw us back down London way, just four days later as I had to work at the shop (a friend’s business in central London called Suka, where I pledged to help out from time to time). More driving, in what isn’t the world’s most economical vehicle (my beloved 10 year old 3 litre BMW).

Things haven’t let up either. I am reclined right now in my seat flying to LA. I have no idea what the time is, nor what the time is supposed to be, and while I have slept a bit, I will arrive at my destination (not LA) at 10.30pm local time. It is always difficult to know what strategy to have in this scenario. Perhaps spending an hour on the rollers this morning was a good one, perhaps not. I will update as this experiment continues!

Korea

The more of these business trips I do, the more I become blasé about them. Where as once, flying was a big deal, now it is nothing. Long haul flying, which I had only experienced once before taking this job is now something that although more of a big deal for me, doesn’t have the impact or sense of occasion it once had.

The trip to Seoul was actually not one I was all that excited about. I had not had the greatest experience last time that I was in South Korea. The hotel location wasn’t great, and I was extremely tired after the Taipei show. The first hotel I rejected and the stress of this, worrying about the new hotel and upsetting my hosts played on my mind. While the new hotel was great (rated 7th on trip advisor for Korean hotels) there was very little to do in the surrounding area. It didn’t feel that alive. As such, I thought of Seoul as a rather dull city.

This time, I chose a hotel somewhere else. Actually, it was more that the hotel was chosen for me by being the cheapest non love hotel which I could find within reasonable distance. The area surrounding the hotel I am told is fairly industrial, and actually had lots of small side streets with restaurants and eateries. I was well off the tourist track though, with not a MacDonalds, Starbucks or even an English menu in sight.

On the first evening I just walked around the area. I had bought a new CD at the airport (Annie Mac Presents 2010) and had put it onto the iPod straight away. I love the way that music evokes memories, so this is a new resolution now. Listening to this I pounded my way down streets – completely out of place I might add!

 

The biggest problem with the travelling is not to waste the opportunity when you are in these countries. For example, it was only the third year of being in Vegas that I actually walked the length of the strip and went to the Hoover Damn. You can go to places without actually seeing them. With that in mind I went into the town on Sunday – plucking up courage to use the underground system. It was late by the time I got to the City Hall, and what I understand to be the city hall gates. I got here just in time to see the changing of the guard. Pretty interesting, and not much effort form me! I was pleased.

After about 20 mins (this was a long ceremony!) I turned and looked around where I was. The G20 is on its way to Seoul, and every effort seemed to be being made to spruce the place up a bit. The square I was in had huge banners protecting the new City Hall being built advertising Korea’s place in the list of civilised nations (or something like that). Smiling to myself, I crossed onto a central square and watched a load of teens playing in a fountain for a bit. Then made my way over to a large patch of grass and tried to make out where to go next in my guide.

I had meant to purchase a guide to South Korea at Heathrow. I had forgotten this, mostly because I went via Munich. I didn’t want a Lonely Planet guide in German either (people might think I was a German) so I decided that TravelWiki was the way to go. Sitting on the grass, while trying to get a wifi signal on my phone, someone approached me and asked if I spoke English and what I was doing here. Now this is one of those things which rarely happens in life. It should, but it doesn’t. A complete stranger was being friendly, decided that I looked a little bit lost and offered to show me around the centre of her city. I jumped at the chance.

The photos here are from that day. We had dinner together too, and I left her company to go back to the hotel well after dark. It was sweet, innocent and completely welcoming. In fact, it puts Korea back on the map of places which I would go to given the choice. My mind was completely changed, and I will look forward to my next visit.