I was just thinking the other day about how far removed from the real world some of my cycling experiences are. Tyres, for example. The company which I work for is sponsored by Continental. I needed new tyres, so I speak to our contact and he says that he will send me something.
The tyres come, but there is something about them. They are labelled like normal tyres, but there are numbers on the sidewall after the GP4000 S logo. He tells me to test ride them, then let him know what I think was special about them.
The first ride was enough. These were cornering tyres. They held on and on and on in the switchbacks. I was able to carry a lot of speed through the turns. I called him up, and he confirmed it. “Yes, we did that compound for Astana for the Tour de France in the mountains.” Nice.
A couple of years earlier, in fact when I had just started in this job, one of the MTB pro riders was product testing the day before a race. He came back from a practice lap, and was happy. I asked what was good, “the tyres, they roll so well. Really fast, there is a road section in the race tomorrow. I am going to make up so much time there. I just wish they were a little grippier in the corners”. About 30 mins later, his phone rang. The product development guy from Conti asked him about the tyres, he gave the same feedback. The guy on the other end of the phone said, “no problem, I will make the changes now, and bring the tyres to you before the start tomorrow”.
The next morning (on a Sunday) the Conti guy shows up with a set of tyres. Our rider has them fitted to his bike, rides the race, and wins. He came back saying the tyres had been modified precisely as he had wished for.
I wish I could tell my 14 year old self some of this at times, I really do.