Thursday, January 8, 2009

Grant Petersen Supporting Somaly Mam Foundation

I first became acquainted with Grant Petersen while he was at Bridgestone. Don't take that to mean that I've met him -- he's on the wrong coast (or maybe I am) for that to be the case. But while I was working on my MBA at Babson College in the early 1990's, I was one of four guys on a project team that compared Cannondale and Bridgestone. I think doing so was even my idea.

In the course of the project, we looked at product lines, talked with dealers, and two of my team members even interviewed Grant (I wasn't on that call). Our conclusions mostly favored Cannondale, as I recall (they were going gangbusters at the time, and had just released the Super-V and Killer-V mountain bike frames, which looked like little else out there). But what I mostly took away from that project was a sense of Mr. Petersen's passion and commitment to his vision of what a bicycle ought to be. In hindsight, the fact that he granted us the interview was itself pretty cool -- Cannondale sent us some marketing stuff, but nobody would give us any time.

At the time, I'd just bought my Kestrel and started mountain biking. The Cannondale line was full of bikes with exotic frame designs made of gigantic, thin-walled aluminum tubing. By contrast, it was hard for my 25 year-old eyes to find much to get excited about in the Bridgestone line-up. Of course, today a 15 year-old Cannondale is recognizable as a faddish 15 year-old design (and in most cases a harsh-riding one, at that), where contemporary Bridgestones are revered for what they always were -- timeless, high quality bicycles.

Since then, Grant has gone on to found Rivendell Bicycle Works, which makes some absolutely beautiful bikes and accessories, as well as promoting stuff that's occasionally only tangentially related to cycling. Chances are if you're reading this, you know as much about Rivendell as I do. Probably more. The picture at left was cribbed from the Rivendell site, and they own it and its copyright and all that (hope I'm not offending anyone -- say the word and I'll take it down). Let me ask, though; is there any way to look at the lug- and paint-work on this bike (an A. Homer Hilsen) and not just immediately want one?

In any case, Grant's passion and convictions appear no less diminished for the years that have passed since we interviewed him. His website practically gushes with that passion, and I find it contagious, even if I don't always agree with the direction in which he's gushing. It's that passion that led me to bookmark the Rivbike site, brings me back for a look at least once a week, and made me subscribe to the RSS feed.

Grant's latest contagious enthusiasm is for the Somaly Mam Foundation, and it's hard not to agree. And as if simply supporting and promoting the cause weren't enough, Rivendell is also matching contributions with a 1:1 credit for Rivendell merchandise (up to $100) for the month of January. A fabulous idea and one I'm going to take advantage of.

Talking with a friend about this today, one thought came up: Rather than a full dollar-for-dollar match, maybe Rivendell could match something less than 100% and instead throw in a tee shirt with a Rivendell logo on the front and a promo of the Somaly Mam Foundation on the back. Maybe get a supplier to share the load and kick in the shirts and/or the silkscreening. Just a thought, but I'd wear it riding, and often, and that might get even more leverage out of the matching investment.

At any rate, I just wanted to call out this extremely generous offer for the handful of folks who come by here on a regular basis to see what I've got to say. Go check out the Somaly Mam link, then go check out what Grant and Rivendell have to offer. If you can't afford to buy one of everything up there, I bet you'll at least want to. And in the mean time, the content is well worth the read.

All for now,

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