Thursday, February 02, 2006

Old Man Winter must be on vacation...

It's the beginning of February (what's up with the spelling of that month) and it was in the 50's today. I'm certainly not complaining about a warm Winter. In the bike business, anything that decreases the temperature-based seasonality is fan-freaking-tastic. It can make a huge difference in the bottom-line if you can keep your payroll under control in Jan/Feb while making 10-20% more than expected. It can be the difference between entering March flush with cash and product versus delaying hiring or bringing in the latest and greatest stuff. Let's just say that mild Winters are good for people in this industry.

Roberts (our outside Cannondale guy) and I talked business today during our 'meeting.' We managed to talk our way through 38 miles in chilly weather. I mean ALL THE WAY. Nobody ever called me a wall-flower and Roberts is in sales so it's not much of a stretch to get us to talk for 2 hours straight. We have a lot in common and we both really enjoy the goings-on in the bike industry in the DC area. It's actually an exciting time/place. DC is considered an important market to many companies. Specialized (who I work a lot with) and Trek have both identified this area as a key market. There's so much density in DC and people have plenty of disposable income as well. It's the 8th biggest media market in the US (where did I hear that one?).

I have to say, the DC area is a pretty great place. I certainly miss my adopted home of California and the riding there, but there's so much more substantial going on here. And I've found that people are pretty accessible in the bike world. A perfect example of that is the WABA Auction. I'm pretty partial to the event. Susan and I have worked for WABA one way or another since about 1999. Susan was a full-timer for them at various times, bouncing between there and America Bikes during her pregnancies. The Auction raises quite a bit of cash for the bicycle safety programs that WABA runs in the local schools. The event has settled in to the Finnish Embassy the last few years but before that it was held in the Turkish Embassy (rad), Dutch Embassy (almost as rad) and now the crazy Finns. Not the Finn brothers of Crowded House fame (how many times did I use that joke?). You should go. Put on a tux, shave, hang out, have a few coctails, talk to Joel Gwadz behind the bar...

So I show up to the 'meeting' with my gear thinking 50's. Roberts is fully covered, head to toe, in cold-weather gear. I brought shorts, short-sleeve City Bikes wooly and mtn bike gloves. First thing Roberts says is 'you wanna borrow some clothes?' Oops. I grabbed the dirty ear warmer and barely-dry Nema vest hanging out from the abrupt Sun AM ride at Patapsco and jump on the bike. One thing I hate about leaving from the 424/50 park-n-ride is that the first 15 minutes of the ride are basically downhill. Not until Govs Bridge Rd do you get a quick little sprint uphill. I was literally shivering, holding onto the bike, trying to stay upright. Needless to say, the day warmed up and I felt great (relatively speaking). Not until I got back to the car did I realize how cold I actually was. The sun had baked the car and it felt great. The 20-minute shower did wonders and my body decided it was time to shut down. I had a quick bite, a big glass o water and sat down to do some work. I'm glad I called Roberts and I'm glad I got another ride in this week. If the weather stays reasonable, Sunday at the 'shed should be fun, if my energy shows up. And I need to get a bike from the shop. I haven't had a real (for me) mtn bike since November. The stumpy carbon is still a few weeks out... thru axle or not thru axle, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to suffer having to pull that sucker out in the unlikely event of a front flat or to just rock the QR. Who bloody knows. I should stick with the QR if I'm going to do a lot of racing this year, eh? Let's keep the 5" travel bike below 27lbs for racing... heh heh.

So, to sum up: warm weather good, DC and bikes good, WABA and drinking good, bikes good.


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