I didn’t think that it was possible for me to love bikes more than I did when I woke up on Sunday morning. But I do. A lot more.
I just got home from my first Trek World adventure, and I was nearly bursting with writer’s anticipation on the trip back, reviewing all of the extraordinary experiences that we somehow crammed into three days in Madison, Wisconsin. Trek Bicycle Corporation organizes and hosts this event every August, and Trek dealers from all over the globe are invited to Wisconsin to see, feel and ride new product, to network with other dealers, vendors and advocates, and to attend seminars on subjects ranging from advocacy to best business practices to fit services. But, Trek World is not your average corporate seminar series. Not even close.
To tell this story, I’m going to jump around a bit in time. The most exciting part of the trip occurred on our final evening in Madison, and that’s where I’m going to begin. On a perfect summer evening- not too hot in the shade, with a hint of a breeze coming off of Lake Monona- more than one thousand people closely associated with Trek gathered on the rooftop of the Monona Terrace. We schmoozed for a bit, enjoying the scenery, the hors d’oeuvres and the conversation. Trek President John Burke, always an engaging speaker, demonstrated Trek’s commitment to improving cycling with significant donations to the League of American Bicyclists and to the International Mountain Bicycling Association, and announced Trek’s plan to continue raising money for these organizations by allocating a portion helmet and mountain bikes sale dollars, respectively, for the next three years. Burke then introduced long-time cycling advocate Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who spoke passionately about being “bike partisan.” With the crowd energized, John Burke reclaimed the stage and called a handful of dealers to the stage to accept the 1 World, 2 Wheels Advocacy Leadership Award. I am extremely proud to say that Mr. Michael Hamannwright was one of those people on the stage accepting the award for himself and on behalf of the Revolution Cycles team. Mike, Pinkey and Jakob have put an incredible amount of effort into increasing Revolution’s commitment to advocacy through the City Hub and with the hire of a full time Events and Advocacy Coordinator, and it was overwhelmingly gratifying to listen to John Burke commend Mike and the Revolution team for our efforts and our accomplishments.
Advocacy was a big topic at this year’s event, particularly Trek’s support of peopleforbikes.org (sign the pledge!). But, I managed to find time to look at lots of new bikes, and lots of new clothing, shoes, helmets, lights, tools, tires… and more bikes. Walking into the massive exhibit space that was chocked full of new product made my heart race and my mouth dry. As a cyclist, I was in heaven. I spent the first evening of the show meandering through the rows and rows of Project Ones and carbon Fuels and the brand new Gary Fisher Collection, drinking a beer provided by Trek (let’s just say that Trek is in tune with what cyclists want- good food and cold beer were never in short supply). As a buyer, I took a more methodical approach the following day, doing my best to investigate and evaluate all of the new features and benefits for as many of the thousands of products on display as I could. The process was exhausting, but there is no better way to understand the new goods than to experience them in person, and then we can be sure that we’re bringing the best of the best into our stores.
I also rode a Speed Concept triathlon bike at the demo day that takes place at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo. Wow. I have never ridden a tri bike before, and quite frankly, I was terrified at the idea. I’d say that my balancing abilities are well above average after a couple of decades spent on ice skates and bicycles, but I didn’t really want to be the guest at the demo who jumps on the full carbon Speed Concept and steers it directly into oncoming traffic. But, I hopped on it anyway, and I’m glad that I did. Fortunately, there are long stretches of virtually car free, freshly paved roads surrounding the demo area, and after a few minutes of feeling out the nuances of balancing on a bike that is significantly different from the road bikes that I’ve grown accustomed to, I began to also feel the difference in the power that I was able to generate in my quads and my hamstrings in the much more aerodynamic positioning of the Speed Concept. I had just been on a fairly long ride on a 6 Series Madone, and while that was an incredibly comfortable and responsive road bike, it also served as a great comparison for the Speed Concept, which is clearly built for going seriously fast. We also had the opportunity to go into the headquarters where the designing and hand-assembling of these bikes takes place, and I was equally impressed with the amazing work that I witnessed inside that translates to the spectacular machines that I rode outside.
We participated in quite a few of the other activities while we were there- Jim attended about seven hours of seminars in row, taking full advantage of all of the information that Trek was providing on fit, new product lines and business strategy. We were also honored to be part of a small crowd of dealers invited to enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake and plenty of libations and delicious food at the home of Saris Cycling Group Owner and President Chris Fortune. The boat ride, the beer and the instant camaraderie with industry peers that we all experienced there was wonderful, and sharing ideas with some of the greatest brains in product engineering was stimulating and insightful. I met a ton of new people, and I learned a preposterous amount of new information and practices from other successful dealers from all over the country, and I was really excited to share some of my experiences with respected colleagues. Most importantly for me, I bonded with members of my own team, and collectively, I believe that we all landed in DC with a wealth of fresh knowledge and renewed spirits after spending a few day immersed in bicycles and surrounded by people who share our passion for bicycle retail.