By James Durand
In the industry of cycling, this time of year is when everyone gathers in Taiwan for the ‘Taipei Bike Show”
This isn’t the sport side of the industry, so no racing and no pros, but anyone on the wholesale side of the biz is there. Every manufacturer, every bike company and every part or accessory brand meet in a huge conference hall covering acres of land in downtown Taipei. It is booth after booth after booth of the latest parts, bikes and accessories.
In my past life as a product manager I travelled to this show for many years. It was exciting to fly to Asia for what was always an adventure, and being a big bike geek, I was never more stoked to see the newest inventions every year.
Many of the new twists in mountain biking had me laughing out loud and were never seen again after the show, but I was also lucky enough to be among the first to see lots of great inventions too. I saw the first dropper post, I was there when 27.5” and 29” wheels were introduced and watching all the advancements in suspension over the years was educational to say the least.
It was also a great week of hanging with friends, experiencing foreign food and partying with crazy bike industry people … and one year I even stayed in the same hotel as the Dalai Lama. Really, I walked within a few feet of him in the lobby. Just me, 10 or 15 “security monks” and the little guy himself.
In the last few weeks I have been seeing Instagram photos from friends at the show, hearing of the latest advancements through various news articles and kind of missing the excitement of the show. But then I think about the 16-hour days. The long meetings stuck in a small booth, usually with smokers, the brutal food, and the 14-hour flights.
These days I just run a local bike shop and lead a simple life. I don’t see every invention before the masses and I don’t get to eat at fancy restaurants every night. The Dalai Lama has definitely never been to Swicked, but on the bright side, I had a fun weekend of riding. This week I had an industry friend join us for the Monday night ride and it was the best ride so far this year, and this morning I got to ride to school with my daughter.
They can have the show and all the excitement that goes with it. Been there done that. And I would way rather hang out at home, ride some great single track and enjoy the simple life. I’d bet a week’s salary that when my buddies in Taiwan see my Instagram photos of the local trails, they are the envious ones.
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ for Ridin’….