The RKP End of Year Awards, Part II

The RKP End of Year Awards, Part II

The No One Loves Last Year’s Prom Queen Award – Bradley Wiggins. Sir Bradley has to be the fastest man on two wheels to NOT get picked by his team for races where being fast is a really good thing. And ok, ok, he says stuff that makes other people feel not so good about themselves, what with his “honesty” or is it “arrogance,” but still, he’s really fast. It makes you wonder why they pay him.

The Jack Tripper Award – Dave Brailsford. The thing about Jack Tripper was he could never decide, Janet or Chrissy, and in not choosing he got neither, not to mention he was a schmarmy goofball with a bad haircut. Brailsford is, by all accounts, a revolutionary thinker on bike racing, but as a man manager, he seems to be lacking. He couldn’t keep Mark Cavendish happy and also race for the GC. He couldn’t keep two GC contenders happy. Really, it’s hard to figure why he would put himself in these situations, a blonde, a brunette, and love-lorn Mrs. Roper always at the ready.

The Dr. Zachary Smith Award – Like the fictional doctor from Lost in Space, Alexander Vinokourov manages both to be a minor character in the ongoing drama of pro-cycling AND somehow its main villainous protagonist. Banned for blood doping at the 2007 Tour, Vino came back in ’09 and won some more races, including Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a gold medal at the London Olympics. Of course, there are allegations he bought LBL from Alexandre Kolobnev, and now that he’s in charge at Astana (who once threatened to sue him over his doping transgressions), the team mysteriously keeps running afoul of doping prohibitions. When will this guy leave the party? As long as he remains (Bjarne Riis is another former winner of this award), it’s hard to envision cycling getting back to Earth in one piece, even with a panicky, arm-waving robot to guide it.

The Wikipedia Entry Without a Section on Doping Award – Marianne Vos. Without trying to pander here, would it not just be better if we all watched women’s racing, instead of men’s? I mean, sex is not a determiner of willingness to cheat, but there’s maybe not enough money in women’s cycling to inspire doping on a larger scale. Ironic that women are shambolically under-paid to race their bikes, but that lack of money is exactly what makes their races more worth watching. Oh, and Marianne Vos is the boss, lights-out talented, charming, cheerful, hard-working and smart.

The Worst Name for a Great Thing Award – Gravel Grinding. The evil power of alliteration rears its ugly head again, visiting this sort of cutesy misnomer on a growing niche of cycling awesomeness. Really, go ride your road bike off-road. It’s awesome. It just needs a better name.

The We Eat Our Young Award – Any bike company that would repo a whole bike shop after forcing too much inventory on its hapless owners. This is happening more and more, and it is not the answer to the question, “How do we get more people into the sport of cycling?”

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    1. Pat O'Brien

      I did a quick search on the last award, including BRAIN, and came up with nothing. I have a guess on which company did this, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I was right. As Josh suggested, is there a story coming?

  1. Christopher Bernique

    I think the Women’s cx is the most entertaining cycle racing out there at the moment. I enjoy every moment I can find on the internet.

  2. Author

    There is more than one instance of this happening with “concept” stores, but pretty regularly shops are being pressured to take on more inventory than they can afford and, in effect, becoming company stores and losing control of their own destinies. For sure, they are complicit, but the need for some companies to push their excess inventories/forecasts onto small businesses leads to real problems at street level. These are business practices that don’t service the consumer or the community. You’d have trouble finding a big American bike company that hasn’t adopted this model to one degree or another.

    1. Padraig

      Khal: That’s not my takeaway. I buy Apple products, but they engage in a number of practices that make me uncomfortable. The bigger the organization, the more complicated its engagement with the world will be. Corollary: Walmart, in its many forms of community giving, is paying for a trail building crew to create miles and miles of new trails in Northwest Arkansas. Still, it’s not enough to make me shop with them. That some bike companies have chosen to form a seemingly predatory relationship with their dealers is troubling, full stop. That said, buy the bike you want.

    2. Pat O'Brien

      I did exactly as you suggested Padraig. And I bought a frame and fork set for a bike from a smaller company. It was made from name brand tubing in a country specified by the company and stamped on the frame. It replaced a frame and fork made from unknown tubing in a country that the company refused to stamp on the frame or specify on their website. I sent that company an E mail over two years ago saying they could possibly make some money reintroducing some of their old models made in their USA location from Reynolds tubing, just like they used to. I got an immediate response saying that my suggestion was forwarded to the marketing department. Nothing happened after that. I can only assume that growth and quarterly profits and stock prices are their priority since they have moved more of their production to China since then. I don’t have a problem with Chinese products. I just don’t want everything coming from their, including Apple products. I hope my next iMac is assembled here as they promised.

    3. Les.B.

      Josh asked a question very directly and was given a vague answer. And even reader PaulyG seems to be indulging in a vague description of a terrible circumstance.

      OK, so you have a good reason for not giving details. I think the readership would appreciate a direct answer, at least as to why the vagueness.

      Drop a juicy tidbit like that and then not expect us to want the full dirt? You know better, right?

  3. Author

    @ Les B – There is a much larger story here that isn’t about specific companies, though Trek and Specialized are the main players here. The issue I was trying to highlight was the disconnect between growing the size of the cycling community and the business model that overburdens the bike shops where the cycling community is fostered. You can’t both be growing the community and destroying it with your business model at the same time. Right now, shops need help, but they are not being helped by their suppliers, and the suppliers are going to find out that they lose when too many shops disappear, in my opinion.

    1. Pat O'Brien

      Thanks Robot! I agree with your conclusion. I think the largest U.S. bike companies are losing by churning the market with new, lighter, and faster in a never ending selection of dozens of models instead of looking at what people are really riding out there. Their executives should be spending much more time visiting independent bike shops.

    2. kurti_sc

      I live in the upstate of SC. The population density here isn’t particularly high and the roads and trails are fantastic. The trouble is that due to our lower population density, we have a continually revolving number of ‘local’ bike shops. Somehow, there is intense competition in this area and they can’t all survive. The competition keeps pounding on each shop so that really none of them are successful long term. since 2010, we have had 6 shops open! There used to be 2 total. Since 2010, we have had 4 shops closed. In this new year, we are up to 3 functioning shops with one more opening soon. It’s odd to be complaining about this, but there’s no continuity between purchases. You buy a bike somewhere and have to have it serviced / warrantied at a different shop 1 or 2 years later. you buy some tires in-stock from one shop. After they close, you have to special order from another. Some of the same mechanics are around, but they scatter to one or another shop. It’s difficult to keep loyalty at any LBS. This over saturation isn’t doing anyone any favors.

    3. Full Monte

      Channel Stuffing.

      Rampant in the auto industry.

      Zone Manager: Hey, I see you have a healthy order in for the all-new 2015 F-150s. That’s great.

      Dealer: We still good with the delivery date? Especially my preferences for Crew Cab XLs and XLTs in four-wheel drive?

      Zone Manager: Sure, no problems I know of with the build-out. But say, I have a problem I need your help with.

      Dealer: Uh-oh. How many?

      Zone Manager: We’re sitting on a 200-day supply of 2014 Fusions. I need you to take 30.

      Dealer: Thirty!? C’mon.

      Zone Manager: We’ll eat the first 60 days of floor plan.

      Dealer: How ’bout 120? Cuz that’s how long it’ll take me to sell 30 Fusions in my town — we’re a truck market here!

      Zone Manager: I know, I know. And that’s why I need you to take the Fusions. I want to be able to send you your trucks.

      Dealer: So that’s it then. No Fusions, no F-150s?

      Zone Manager: Hey, we all have bosses, you know?


      I knew the big bike companies were guilty of channel stuffing to a certain degree. In our town, a couple bike brands recently switched independent bike stores due to the unwillingness of one to cave in to the manufacturer’s order quota (cough-Specialized-cough). However, being independent dealers, I didn’t know the big bike companies could twist their arms as effectively as Ford Motor Company does its dealers (I use Ford only for illustration — they all do it).

      From what I hear, the master of mandatory order quotas in the sporting goods industry is Nike. They’re the gorilla in the shoe market (still) and even big box chains are at their mercy.

  4. kurti_sc

    for context, from 1994 – 2010, there were two shops servicing the area. Also, we have 3 large shops in a city that is 45 min. north of us.

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