Our latest podcast episode features the owner of Mercury Wheels. We talk about what led to starting a business, shutting down an apparently successful sales channel, and why you add rosemary to a gin and tonic.
Listen now on Soundcloud!
Our guest on the Burn The Boats podcast takes us to Australia, where we talk about turning his passion for travel and search for great outdoor gear into the Tyres and Soles website.
Listen here on Soundcloud!
We first heard about this book from Seth Godin on the Tim Ferris podcast. Al Ries and Jack Trout published the edition we have in 1993 - before the internet.
This book and the Laws contained inside have been at the heart of designing, implementing and ending some of our marketing efforts.
Most impactful sections:
About a month ago. my friend and neighbor - let's just call him "Kyle" - had posted on the Interwebs that he had crashed on his bike. Thankfully he was OK - just a mild concussion and now in the market for a new helmet.
We stopped by for a visit to check on him and asked Who/What/Where/When/Why/How, and "Kyle" informed us that he flipped right in front of our house.
Which got us thinking...
About 2 years ago to prepare for cyclocross season, we planned a ride on the bike path from our house to our local CX park and back. We rolled out, and were turning off the street onto the trail and heard the unmistakeable sound of a bike locking up cantilever brakes and hitting the deck.
I looked back to find Kyle sitting in the street, with his bike perfectly balanced on the stem and seat, wheels spinning. Something like this:
We confirmed with our friend Nic that this in fact did happen and we weren't imagining this. Apparently "Kyle" didn't see we were turning, looked up and grabbed ALL the front brake.
The story on Crash 2 was that my neighbor was mowing the lawn, and Kyle being a friendly guy waved to said neighbor. At this point "a rock" made contact with his front wheel and his hand missed the bar. We are in the process of conducting neighbor interviews.
We then started running some analysis. Google Maps calculated the distance between our house and the CX crash, #1. About 466 feet away, and the yellow arrow indicates direction of travel, sign indicates approximate location.
We then plotted the approximate location of crash #2. See below, direction of travel indicated by yellow arrow.
Clearly a cyclist named Kyle was having issues bicycling on this street.
We asked the Google for "bicycle crashing signs". Which led us to MyParkingSign.com.
We inquired if the signs could be customized with the official Highway C font, and much to our delight yes, yes it could.
Marcus at x7152 was so helpful. He had a proof delivered within an hour, and delivered the completed sign in 5 business days. We also ordered the Stainless Hose Mount Kit to properly mount the sign to the light pole in front of the house.
Sunday, June 4th was the day to mount the sign. We had a few friends over for Sunday Funday, and were in the garage getting the ladder ready when, guess who rides by? And didn't crash! It was "Kyle" riding by on a grocery run. Discreetly, I put the sign down, made some small talk, and after he departed we quickly set up the ladder, mounted the sign to the light pole. (Note: The worm gear on the mounting kit is really easy and efficient to use.)
Tuesday, June 13th was the official date that Kyle's wife noticed the sign. There was much rejoicing.
And from the Coincidence File, my friend Nic who was present on Crash #1 - sent me this pic of his tattoo. I hadn't seen this ink until now.
The world is truly an amazing place.
The best part of this company is seeing pictures and reading stories from our customers. This post is from Rachel and Roger.
How did you meet?
We met when I was in grad school at UF, and Roger was finishing up his engineering degree. I had just moved to Gainesville, and as a cyclist, my priority was to find some nice routes in the area - and other cyclists, too! One day, driving back from class, I just *happened* to see a rather handsome cyclist riding into my neighborhood. I promptly pulled him over (yes, I was still in the car, and probably terrified him), and asked if he would go for a bike ride with me. The rest is history.
P.S. - After 10 years of being married, he still has the piece of paper with my phone number on it, that I gave him that day.
What was the most challenging ride / run? Why?
Our most challenging run was the first ultramarathon we did together. It was a North Face Endurance Challenge Series event, outside of Washington, D.C. It was only a 50K - not too far - but we had no idea what to expect. In particular, I'd underestimated the importance of training for downhill running. Within the first 5 miles, the steep downhills got the better of me, and my quads started seizing up. It felt like knives stabbing into my legs, and I could barely walk. It was painful, but I was also mad at myself, and determined to finish...so I did. I had to stop and stretch after almost every downhill, and it took much longer than anticipated. Roger was there with me every step of the way. It was a learning experience for both of us - and it also got us both hooked on ultrarunning. Because as painful as that experience was, we loved the beauty of the trails and scenery, the friendly and welcoming running community, and the challenge.
...as a post-script: we've come a far ways since then! we regularly finish top 5 in trail and ultra-running events in NorCal, behind pro racers and the top finishers in Western States. There's still a lot of room for us to improve, though!
What's on your event calendar this year?
This year is about continuing to build a solid base of trail running events and training. This means a few select local races, like the Toro Loco 30K in August, and the Mt. Tam 50K in November. Our long-term goal (maybe for 2017..?) is to qualify for Western States. That's a bucket list item for us both.
Describe the perfect day...
Any day outside exploring is a perfect day. Whether chasing new trails along a skyline ridge, or riding our bikes across mountain passes, California has lots of opportunities for perfect days.
The first photo is from June 2016, and was taken at the summit of the Haleakala volcano in Maui (it was a pretty tough, 35 mile climb from sea level to 10,000 ft!)
The second photo is from September 2015, and was taken during our cross-country trip from NYC > San Francisco. This was at the top of the(in)famous Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs, CO.
The third photo is from January 2016 and was taken at the top of the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand. We took a helicopter to the top of the glacier, and hiked around it - it was gorgeous.
Why is layering important? Weather is unpredictable. Take a look at what Bicycling Magazine has to say. A Warmfront is the high-tech, moisture-wicking thermal layer - that easily removes and stashes in your pocket.
Don't leave home without it.
We saw a post on Facebook yesterday about an online outdoor retailer that was engaging in shady business practices, bait and switch, hidden terms and conditions, etc.
Rather than pile on and repost something negative, we thought I'd talk about how The Warmfront does business and how our philosophy came to be.
It's really simple. We understand our product is unique and little different. We rely on our friends and customers to tell us how to make it better. We also understand that buying something on the interwebs sight unseen is not ideal. You can't touch it or try it on. And what happens if I don't like it?
We looked at companies we've worked for, and companies both online and brick and mortar that earned our business. What was great? What sucked?
The ones that stood out - Eddie Bauer, REI, and small local businesses that treated us fair were our model.
Our policy is simple - if you don't like The Warmfront - no problem. No questions asked, we will take care of you.
Your calls and emails beam right here to Colorado. We read them all and respond. We rely on you being fans and telling your friends that ride, run, ski and board. If you're not a fan, at least you can tell your friends that The Warmfront wasn't for you, but at least we treated you like a friend.
A great article from Gear Patrol about keeping your torso warm in the cold, and staying healthy outside.
Not too much riding today @BandidoCross in Colorado, but we sure had a good time.
A friend asked how this company got started. I initially answered with the story about the product itself, but driving home I realized the true origin went back further into history and truly had nothing to with The Warmfront.
In the late 90's I was working as a software engineer in Boulder. I bought this journal at Eddie Bauer to keep lists of songs and movies I liked and didn't want to forget, and started recording ideas for inventions in it.
I was traveling for work and was at Stapleton Airport - probably pre-wireless - and took my company laptop out of the gigantic suitcase that housed it to look like an important businessman. I was probably playing Solitaire.
I was struggling to create a spot on my lap for this clunky piece of machinery, squeezing my knees and other sensitive areas together with little success. The laptop almost slipped off, it was uncomfortable, hot, etc.
After the trip, I wrote this entry in my journal: Laptop strap / leg holder. My little engineer brain was creating a laptop bag that would fold out into a lap desk of some sort. At the time I was disorganized, lacking focus and confidence, and forgot about this.
A few years later, I'm on another business trip and open up Skymall. What do I see for sale in there? My bag/desk idea. The product description sounded identical to my concept.
I hated that feeling. But it was actually the start of my personal growth and maturing. Instead of thinking my idea was stolen, I recognized that I had done nothing with my idea. I resolved that I would design something else and finish it. I didn't know what, how or when, and the Warmfront was still a few years away, but I wasn't going to let an invention sit in my journal and fade away.
P.S. If you look at the first entry in this journal, you'll see Flashing CHMSL. Full geek disclosure, that stand for Center High Mounted Stop Light. You know those brake lights that are in the middle of the liftgate or rear window on cars? That is the official name.
In the 2000s, it was a new invention. I thought they would be more effective if under heavy braking, they would flash. Take a look at some of the newer cars when you're stuck in traffic - the lights start flashing.
Thoughts and hopefully inspirations from the Warmfront.