Three things I love: being invited to learn new and exciting things, somewhere far, far away, surrounded by all kinds of interesting people. Pitching articles to various publishers only to have them say, “We trust you, just write whatever you want.” (Pretty much the highest praise you can give a freelancer.) Watching other people read, share and get a whole lot out of those articles too.
In October 2016, Trek Bikes held their first ever Women’s Summit at their global headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin. I joined six international journalists (all female, still something of a rarity in cycling) and 54 newly appointed brand advocates to listen, learn, ask questions, and ride.
One of the things that struck me was how much Trek staff care about the bigger picture, and the articles I wrote once I returned from the Summit reflect this: an interview with one of mountain biking’s forefathers, Gary Fisher, on where he sees the scene developing next. A story on the future of cycling and the roles that women play in this narrative. How saddles are changing across the industry and what this means for how we think about pain, comfort and fit. Advice for small businesses from a man who heads up a massive one.
I really appreciated having free reign on the subject matter and angle of each article. This means a chance to step away from the obvious stuff and develop a range of content that creates more of a connection with the people who read it.
Photographer, Jeff Kennel joined us on the road, the trails and through the sprawling headquarters, creating a huge gallery of images that made telling each story even more of a pleasure. I added to these with some of my own. Hit the article links below if you’d like to have a read.
Articles for Flow Mountain Bike:
“I think we’re at a very interesting place where we’ve got huge environmental issues that nobody even knows how big the environmental issues are. And that will continue to rear its ugly head, and that will spur people to action,” said Trek President, John Burke.
“You’ve got congestion issues in the cities which aren’t going away. And then you’ve got health issues because people are getting unhealthier. Cycling is the only thing I know that addresses all three.” A powerful pitch for the future of cycling indeed.
“One of the many highlights of mountain biking is that the sport is still young enough that we can meet the makers, listen to their stories and ask them how they’d like to see the sport develop. So, when given the opportunity to chat with Gary Fisher, one of the men who invented mountain biking back in the 70s, that’s exactly what we did.”
Articles for SBS Cycling Central:
John Burke: “The biggest problem that businesses have today, is themselves. They put themselves in a box, and they think they can only do this.”
Kyle Russ: “As our understanding of saddle design has matured, so has our messaging to athletes and consumers. The question is no longer, ‘Do you want a saddle with a hole in it, or one without a hole in it?'”
Articles for Bike Magazine (Australia)
Review: Bontrager Meraj women’s road shoes (print). Republished online.
“They’re not so light and stiff that you’ll want to tread delicately at the café, and they’re not so loud in appearance you’ll feel pressured to replace them because they no longer match your kit. But what they are, as confirmed over the following four months, is so comfortable that they don’t even require a breaking in period.”
Articles for Australian Mountain Bike Magazine
Review: Bontrager Anja Pro Carbon saddle (print). Republished online.
“…the performance, research and construction of the Ajna shows that Bontrager has really lifted their game when it comes to saddle development and fitting riders to bikes. This is a product that will bring people into Trek stores for a closer look at this, and other accessories, regardless of the brand of bike they ride. If you take the time to get set up properly, you might be surprised how your own riding experience could change too.”
Photos: Kath Bicknell, Jeff Kennel.