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Big hat, no cows

Biggest news of the week is that we’re hiring. At least one (probably two) Mechanics. One person as a Product Management Assistant -- a great get-your-foot-in-the-door, utility infielder position that deals with purchasing, inventory, and our web presentation. And, lastly, a Mountain Bike Product Manager, which is a serious job with seriously high expectations for candidates. Our workplace environment is the envy of the bike industry, and our benefits package would make Nancy Pelosi faint with pleasure. Deadline for applications is Friday, December 11.

A cautionary tale about the pitfalls of certain management styles in the modern workplace. Allen Lim was probably the most underemployed individual in the ProTour. Underemployed in the sense that he has a PhD and carrot after carrot was purportedly dangled in front of him by Little Lord Fauntelroy to keep him put (promises of time & leeway for scientific study, for coaching innovation, and for technological experimentation -- all in the name of bettering the team). Carrots be damned, though, Allen never acted as more than a soigneur and Assistant DS. The rumor mill is rife with stories of disrespect and lack of appreciation from Garmin management. And while the added sponsorship dough inbound from POM and Transitions could’ve funded the long-promised expansion of scientific study, led by Allen to lead to better results by Garmin riders, the money was instead used to make savvy moves like a contract extension for Tommy D. Respect, some leash for personal projects, upward mobility: All ingredients for happy employees.

– Aero before aero was relevant. Smooth for all of eternity. A few minutes of beauty that any bike racer can learn lessons from:

– ‘Eating local’ is more than just a geographic phenomenon. It’s a sentimental one, too. To wit --

I faintly remember a mid-80’s issue of Winning magazine, when my all-time favorite bike racer Bernard Hinault was being interviewed. He talked about a rookie member of his La Vie Claire team, an impossibly thin American climber named Andy Hampsten -- la petit lapin, Hinault called him. The little rabbit. His buck teeth and bouncy personality made the nickname stick for good.

As we all know, Hampsten grew up to become much more beastly than a bunny. To this day, he’s the only American to triumph in the GC at the Giro d’Italia. He won the Alpe d’Huez stage of the Tour de France, and he earned who-knows-how-many-other awesome results in Europe. He’s a racing legend. He’s also clearly a very smart guy. He got his teeth fixed, bought a farm in Tuscany, and now divides his time between Boulder and Italy. It’s a tough life.

To my knowledge Hampsten is involved in the public side of bike business in a few ways: He and his brother produce lovely, thoughtful frames with Hampsten Cycles. He also does guided cuisine-and-cycling tours in Tuscany called Cinghiale -- an Italian word that loosely (very loosely) translates into Razorback. And, lastly, he uses his Tuscan hook-up to sell olive oil.

Things have gotten to the point with Lance v. Greg that my list of American cycling heroes is getting really freaking short and tops is la petit lapin. Which is my long-winded way of saying that eating local can also mean close-to-the-heart, not just close-on-the-map. I’m buying a mess of olive oil to give to some special people on my Xmas list and I suggest you do the same. Word on the street is that Andy will even sign the bottles if you ask nicely. Available in both 0.5L and in 5L.

And a final note for the foodies amongst us: We’re told this is ‘tasting’ olive oil, not ‘cooking’ olive oil, so reserve for situations when you’re feeling attentive.

– What is the best sizing chart you’ve ever seen from a clothing company on the ‘net?

– I don’t know the folks behind on-line triathlon retailer Bicycle Sports Michigan but I was impressed by the depth & thoughtfulness of their bike reviews on their website and was fairly awed by their omnipresence on the much-respected & much trafficked Slowtwitch triathlon forum . So, needless to say, I was surprised by their bankruptcy announcement this weekend. It goes to show how insane online retail is: Companies who seem to have their act together all-too-often prove to be fatally flimsy. There’s a saying for it here in the south: Big hat, no cows.

We’d never jump to conclusions, though if we did conclusion #1 would be a feeling of affirmation that the size & importance of the triathlon market -- something the bike industry has long hyped -- is indeed the farce we’ve long believed it to be. This is not to disparage the sport of triathlon or its participants. Rather, our issue is with the bike industry’s completely-void-of-factual-data way of holding tri aloft as some sort of savior for high-end revenue. It’s no different than their approach to marketing women’s goods: The amount of hype & design that goes into itsy-bitsy market segment confounds those of us who actually deal with living, breathing customers on a daily basis. Like tri, I know and like (and have occasionally been dropped by) women riders. It’s the distraction of dead-end marketing trends -- that’s what irritates.

– We hear Oscar Pereiro is retiring. We will remember him fondly. And, for fun, just one more.