Every industry is built on people and relationships. I work in the bike industry because I like and trust people in the bike industry in a way that never occurred in other industries. The fact that all these people are cyclists has undergirded their perspective so that I always feel like we are speaking the same language. Above are Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford of Clif. I can’t claim to know them well but I enjoy what little time with them because they are incredibly bright and inquisitive people. I got to have a relaxed lunch with them some years ago when they launched their wines, and I can attest that they know their way around a Napa Cab.
For those of you who listened to our rather briefly lived Redwood Empire Pedalcast, Jake Bayless was my co-host. Jake’s roots in Sonoma County run deep and he has proven to be an excellent guide as I’ve assimilated. He’s also one of the founding members of the Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Association, an advocacy group devoted to “more trails, better trails,” here in the North Bay.
Soren Krebs hails from Copenhagen and is a fixture of Southern California riding in and around the canyon roads of Malibu. He’s best known for his time with Colnago America, but has also had stints with BMC and other brands. If I had a product to sell into bike shops, I’d love to have Soren in my corner.
Jim Miller is in sales with Pioneer and heads up their rep force. After spending the first part of his career in the mortgage industry, he got out in the late aughts and decided to move in to an industry with some passion. He was a teammate of mine (and fellow board member) on the Big Orange team, which has grown into a strong club in the South Bay. I miss riding with this guy.
Brenda Lyons is a fellow Santa Rosa resident and she heads up Pioneer’s efforts with distributors (among other duties). She’s also a former pro with a sprint that will make you rethink what you know about acceleration. I get to ride with her from time to time and when I see her I know I’m going to want a nap later.
Suzette Ayotte is one of the PR pros I deal with. I’ve known Suzette since my days at Bicycle Guide, back when she worked with Fi’zi:k. These days she represents Donnelly Sports (what used to be Clement Tires) and Effetto Mariposa, the Italian brand with an ever-evolving host of interesting products.
Kurt Stockton was the 1990 U.S. Pro champion and was the subject of a poster in one bike shop I worked in. After many years in team direction he has moved into representing lines like Donnelly Sports as a sales rep. I usually get to see him at gravel events a few times a year.
Donn Kellogg is the man behind Donnelly Sports (his full first name is Donnelly, hence the second “N” in his first name and the name of the company). I first got to know Donn in the 1990s when he was the American point person for Vetta, for those of you who remember the French brand of computers and helmets. He has poured his proverbial heart into the launch of Donnelly, and his decision to end his licensing agreement with Clement has made it easier for him to sponsor his team.
Julie Kelly works with SOAR, another PR agency, this one based in Utah, though she is in North County San Diego. In addition to her work for SOAR, she also does a great deal of work with Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and for those who follow it, is the primary point person for organizing their dealer tours. I met Julie at RAGBRAI in 1997, where we discovered that we had a similar love of Tegaderm. She also got me to dance to the Spice Girls.
“Smilin'” George Mount. He’s best known for being the first American cyclist to do anything at the Olympic Games in forever when he finished sixth in the road race. He then went on to be the first American to race the Giro d’Italia and win a number of races that Americans shouldn’t even have been able to finish. Since ending his racing career he had a successful career in the telecom industry and has taken on a significant role in the guidance of the U.S. Bicycle Hall of Fame.
Don Powell is the brains behind Panache Cycle Wear, who makes the RKP kits. Don spent time racing in Europe and knows what it means to spend hours in the gutter. Panache impressed me because they went from launch to some of the best custom clothing available.
Peter Nicholson is V.P. at TRUE Communications, another of the PR agencies I deal with. Peter comes from editorial (he was an editor at Wired), and gets the needs of writers. He is responsible for keeping me up to speed on Giro, Continental Tires and Canyon Bicycles.
Even though my primary interaction with Giro is through TRUE, I’ve been working with Eric Richter at Giro since the 1990s. He’s had any number of roles there over the years and is consistently a great source of perspective not just on Giro, but on the larger cycling culture in and around Santa Cruz.
Mark Ritz work for Bell Sports by day and is the proprietor of Kinetic Coffee by night. When the fires happened last fall he was among the first to reach out to me with donations of cycling clothing to help our community to get back out there. We’ve got a few local riders who, like me, love all things orange and were thrilled to represent on behalf of Kinetic.
Kristen Legan is a former pro triathlete who was a tech editor for VeloNews for a while before turning to PR. In her role with Dispatch Communications she acts as my primary contact point for Shimano, Michelin and Bell products. Given that every media outlet out there needs a strong relationship with Shimano, her job is one that is easy to conclude is very busy. She also happens to be married to Nick Legan, also formerly of VeloNews and Dispatch, but she’s the faster rider. These days, she’s doing a lot of cyclocross and gravel racing.
Eric Doyne is the owner of Dispatch Communications, and someone I’ve been dealing with for more than 15 years. Wow. PR can run the gamut, but dealing with guys like Eric and …
Mark Riedy, who is the owner of TRUE communications, is another of the pros I get to deal with. It was his departure from Bicycle Guide that paved the way for me to join the magazine. I wish we could have worked together. He’s incredibly smart and has a work ethic that would make the average farmer blanche.