We usually try to schedule some fun adventures into our European ski selection trips. Anytime we can turn a business trip into a vacation it reminds us how lucky we are to have carved out our little niche in the industry. Also, pictures of mountains and fun mountain activities are vastly more effective marketing material than pictures of the inside of ski factories.
This year our late summer ski picking trip backed right up to Labor Day weekend, and Amy’s birthday fell on Sunday. Back home, Gunnar was busy missing the start of school with my parents up in Nova Scotia, and their plan was to return to New York on Labor Day. So, without any compelling reason to hurry home, we took the weekend to hang out in Europe, and made some fun plans for Amy’s birthday in Davos.
For years we have tried to find a way to connect with Davide Mosele,and his parents, Roberto and Donna, during one of our trips. The Mosele family is better known by their wax brand, Star. This year it turned out that they wouldn’t be in Asiago for our vacation weekend because they were scheduled to be at the Eurobike trade show with their line of bicycle lubricants. Friedrichshafen, the location of the Eurobike expo, turned out to be right on the way to Davos, and since we’re pretty into biking, we decided to go to Eurobike Saturday, meet the Star family, make a quick immersion into the bike industry, and move on to Davos Saturday evening.
We had a great time talking to our friends from Star. I was shocked to learn that the bike products account for about 50% of their business, though in the context of everything that we saw at Eurobike, it’s not surprising. They bring the same obsessive attention to bike products that they’ve always brought to ski products, and we’ve got some cool stuff to try on our bikes before the snow flies.
Eurobike is an incredible circus. We’ve been to trade shows before; Interbike and the SIA show. Eurobike seems to be a different scale. The fascinating thing is the perspective it provides on the sheer size of the bike industry. We saw more brands that we had never heard of before, than brands that we recognized. It’s also interesting to note the trends in the industry. Pretty much every bicycle manufacturer was featuring e-bikes, which seem to have breathed new vitality into the bike industry, particularly in Europe.
The other fascinating take-away from Eurobike is the importance of branding and marketing. While there is a lot of true innovation on display at the show, the bulk of what is sold into the market appears to be more image and brand driven than product driven. Maybe it’s a similar situation in the ski industry when you turn your gaze away from race performance, but our business is much more focused on products and innovation, so we often don’t feel the full impact and importance of branding.
Davos was strictly vacation, and we had grand-plans to rent some mountain bikes and check out what looks like some astonishing riding in the mountains around the town. But, true to the forecast (which had seemed unbelievable with temps running hot in the days prior), the weekend turned out to be cold and wet, with the snow-line creeping down to within a couple hundred meters of town! We thought about hiking some of the high country in the snow on Sunday, but we couldn’t even see the trails when we got to our selected route. Instead we took a great hike out of Klosters, meandering up to Woflgang, and then up to the tram mid-station above Klosters. It was 15km of hiking, avoiding any meaningful downhill – by far the most ambitious thing I’ve tried on foot with my leg since breaking it last summer. It went great, and I’m excited to try to expand the possibilities for future adventures.
Now we’re back in New York city, reunited with Gunnar, and hanging out with my family. My brother Thomas is a musician and producer, and tonight he’s putting on a show for our mother’s birthday. So we’ll be getting a bit of culture and sophistication in our mix. I’m not sure how Thomas manages to get Gunnar into these 18+ venues, but it seems to work out OK. By tomorrow mid-day we’ll be back in the real world, a bit jet lagged, but ready for the fall season. I recommend checking in with us during the AM hours for the next week or so, since jet-lag more or less guarantees zombie status in the afternoon for five or six days.