Just like in 2022 and in the time before COVID, our sales manager Jan Herberk and Honza Galla, who takes care of marketing, went on a tour in the USA. And just like during previous visits, they had two goals. To attend the recumbent bike show Cycle-Con, held this year in Xenia, Ohio, and to visit our recumbent dealers. There are, of course, several reasons for all of this. We want to get personal feedback, much needed inspiration for new developments, suggestions for any improvements, and of course we want to meet you our fans who can provide all of this. Because you usually only see happy pictures of smiling dealers outside their shops or pictures from the trade show, this time, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at such a trip. Here is a photo report with Honza’s comments.
The beginning was already a bit adventurous. In Madrid, Spain, we waited for three hours in a plane that first the air conditioning didn’t work, and then the engine wouldn’t start. This caused a tremendous heat inside and the collapse of one of the older passengers, which again prolonged the wait for a departure slot. We only got water once and could only dream of cold beer. Then, when we were in the air a few hours later, the air conditioning was running at full blast, and the plane was quite cold, they started handing out popsicles. Hmm, well, they could have handed them out while we were waiting on the ground. They would have gotten big plus points that way, but this way, Iberia airways just got all the minuses from us.
This year, we rented a Toyota Sienna with a hybrid transmission and drove about 5,000 miles / 8,000 km in 13 days. There’s not much fun in the car on such long drives, so this year, we competed to see who could get the better ECO score, which was shown on the display. Most of the time, we carried only two trikes and one two-wheel recumbent bike in the car, but halfway through the trip, we were joined by our CEO Ales Zemanek, and we loaded one other trike. Even so, it was a rather half-empty vehicle. A few years ago, we managed to get 8 bikes and trikes into a similar vehicle, in addition to two people.
We landed in Florida a week after the hurricane, and we could see the repairs and reconstruction in full swing.
While in Europe, we are usually able to visit two dealerships in a day, in the US it is only one, and sometimes a two-day drive between two recumbent dealerships is necessary. One or two similarly long moves are usually OK, but if we have three such long transfers, as we did this year, it’s usually getting a bit too long for us. On the other hand, we have time to deal with some emails or even edit a video.
To keep our spirits and bodies in good shape, we try to spend at least an hour every day on a short trip or swimming in the sea. Google Maps is a big help in this regard and it makes finding trails or beaches quite easy. This year we also did one two-hour bike trip and experienced the rail trail for the first time, including a beautiful historic bridge.
In past years, we have found it appalling how much waste we produce during hotel breakfasts, but also just by drinking coffee at petrol stations. That’s why we’re gradually improving our dining kit, which now includes not only cutlery but also a juice cup, a coffee thermos and a breakfast plate. We leave almost no trace of waste in the hotels. Otherwise, we try to enjoy our meals as much as possible, seek out local restaurants, and this year’s big treat was a hot dog at a former gas station in Nashville, Tennessee. Similarly, a visit to a Texas shop with Czech roots, Hruška (Czech for pear), where they sell kolaches and klobasnikys, was a nice stop.
The preparation for the show this year went completely smooth and easy. This was despite the fact that we had the most bikes at Cycle-Con in history. The advantage was that there were three of us, but mostly it was due to good logistics and preparation at home in the Czech Republic. While building bikes, we built two towers out of trike boxes, a little bit to save space around the booth, and a little bit for fun. We then used the boxes as the basis for two stages on which the recumbent trikes were displayed.
Cycle-Con is one of the largest recumbent events in the US and this year was really great. Lots of visitors, lots of accompanying programs, great atmsphere, organized rides the week before the show and two group rides during the expo itself. The one on Sunday morning was sponsored and led by us from AZUB and we enjoyed it in the company of 60 other riders. Thanks to everyone for participating and to the organizers for a job well done!
Just like at SPEZI in Germany, we had two tireless helpers at Cycle-Con. Matt Galat and Rich Haket. Rich actually came to Cycle-Con by a big detour from AZUB in Uherské Brod on his prototype folding AZUB MINI. Thanks to both of them for their help. In addition, we also stayed overnight at Matt’s house on Monday after the expo and explored with his daughter Eva the differences between elementary education in the US and the Czech Republic.
At the end of our USA move, Jan and I also made a visit to the Indor bike park in Cleveland. Unlike me, Jan is a very good MTB rider, so he was able to enjoy the whole two-storey bike park. I was again just learning and trying to see what I could do. However, the three hour evening visit was definitely worth it!
We are already looking forward to seeing our dealers and fans again. Be it in the spring at SPEZI in Germany or again in the fall in the USA.