Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Event: Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo Miami recap.

Sometimes it's easy to take for granted the things that go on outside of my little world of being a bike rep, family guy and weekend bike racer. Professional team sponsorships are organized in the off season. Product is passed out to Vacansoleil and Androni in the form of Oltre and Sempre frames. Advertising budgets are sharpened and material is submitted to the magazines and online publications for testing and review. With a kiss of the Cornicello, nod of the head and a brief pointing to the sky, the company waits for a response from the masses in the form of annual sales and event turn out.

Looking to get the best spot at the Gran Fondo Miami bike expo, I consulted our independent rep as to which booth location/ number would be best for us. Across from the VIP tent is where we pitched our tents. 

On Saturday, the riders of the Gran Fondo Miami strolled in to pick up their packets for Sunday's ride. Surrounding their exit from the sign in tent, were us bike companies offering up a peek at the latest cycling technology and a chance to speak with factory reps.

Having a celeste bikes at the booth is always a sure fire way to bring out fans of the brand. Not having Campagnolo on every single bike can also bring out the worst in some people. But let's face it. If you're buying a bike that's over $2200 and it's made of carbon fiber, Bianchi has you covered. There's no need to go home and kick a puppy.

Saturday's booth traffic was defined by a large number of visits from Bianchi owners. A small chunk of passer-bys were generally curious cyclists. If the conversations on Saturday were any sort of a groundswell for what we'd see people riding on Sunday, we'd be very busy that day. And that we were.

Sunday. Ride day. Carbon clincher wheel day. Oltre day? Yes, Oltre day.

Being across from the VIP tent had paid off. As people racked their bikes, enjoyed the food and then departed with a full belly, they strolled over for a chat, some swag and a handshake.

You can spout out gobs of metrics about who attends a gran fondo in Miami, Florida. Some of it might be exaggerated, speculated and methodically formulated. One thing was for sure, the majority of the carbon bikes and their owners that stopped by after the ride to show me their pride and joy, rode an Oltre. Those not on an Oltre-- it was some other model of carbon fiber, Bianchi road bike. Absent were the classic steel bikes like the Imola, Vigorelli and Volpe like I saw endlessly at RAGBRAI 2013. 

I saw every size Oltre from a woman on a 50cm Super Record with EPS, on up to a 61cm frame size with FFW celeste colored deep dish wheels like the Vacansoleil team rode

I believe Aldo from Canada gets the super fan award of the weekend. Tri-color helmet, Oltre with Campagnolo Super Record, Bianchi branded sunglasses and..... I thought he was showing off is guns until he rolled his arm over revealing this. Edoardo would be proud.

Another event goes down for me and much like RAGBRAI, people felt entitled to tell you their story of how and why they have a celeste colored bike. So much enthusiasm, so much passion and excitement these Bianchi owners have; it's more than any brand I've seen from 20 years of working retail. 

It's difficult at best create a brand's culture, buy culture or force a culture to last over a century like Bianchi. It has to marinade for a long time. Culture creates itself and after 128 years of it, I'm proud to be a part of Bianchi's culture because once you throw a leg over their bicycle, the world is that much smaller. 

From Florida, back to the Mid-Atlantic weather.....brrrrrr!

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