Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

18 June 2019

Trade War Sends Giant Back To Its Roots

When Trumplethinskin announced tariffs on goods from China, one thing was clear to anyone with an IQ of room temperature or higher:  Jobs would not suddenly re-appear in Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Of course, El Cheeto Grande, not being a member of that exclusive club, went ahead with his move.  

Maybe I am not giving him enough credit for his intelligence:  After all, sold the promise of jobs returning, as if they'd simply migrated for a season, to large numbers of people.  Then again, at least some of those people are as desperate as he is avaricious or delusional, depending on what you believe.

So what are the results of those tariffs, so far?  Well, for one thing farmers--many of whose livelihoods are tied to exporting what they grow--are losing sales.  And it doesn't look like jobs are coming back to the US, at least not in the bicycle industry.

Prices are already increasing for many bikes and related goods.  But the world's largest bicycle producer found another way to deal with those new import taxes:  going back to its roots.

I am talking about Giant.  Chairwoman Bonnie Tu said, "we took it seriously," when Trump announced a 25 percent surcharge on almost everything coming from China.  "We started moving before he shut his mouth."

Giant's factory in Taichung City, Taiwan

That meant, of course, she had a very short window of time in which to act.  But act she did:  She shifted production of the company's US-bound bikes from its Chinese factories to the company's headquarters in Taichung City, Taiwan.

The first Giant bikes sold in North America during the 1980s were made in Taiwan.  So were all of the products the company exported to the America, and most to the rest of the world, during the 1990s and early 2000s.  

Bonnie Tu

Ms. Tu says, though, that the company's long-term plan involves moving as much production as possible as close to the markets as is feasible.  Right now, in addition to its Taiwanese facility and the five factories it operates in China, Giant also has a plant in the Netherlands and has announced they are building another in Hungary.

Will Giant start making bikes in the US?  Ms. Tu hasn't said as much, but it wouldn't surprise me if they set up shop in some low-wage "right to work" state in the South.  If they do, I just hope the bikes are better than some of the stuff that came out of Schwinn's since-shuttered Greenville, Mississippi plant.

17 June 2019

Keeping Out The Hordes Of Bikes From Canada

The US Department of Homeland Security's mission statement begins with this:

  The vision of homeland security is to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure and resilient against terrorism and other hazards.  

  Three key concepts form the vision of our national homeland security strategy designed to achieve this vision:

  • Security,
  • Resilience, and 
  • Customs and Exchange.

In their efforts to achieve that vision, the DHS has helped to keep out all kinds of threats, including would-be terrorists and weapons.

And, now, bicycles.

One mile separates Prescott, in the Canadian province of Ontario, from Ogdensburg, in the US state of New York.  That mile is the width of the St. Lawrence River. 

Until 1960, ferry service linked the two cities.  That ended when the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge. The US side of the bridge is indeed in Ogdensburg, but the Canadian side funnels vehicles into Johnstown, a few kilometers east of Prescott.

There has been talk of reviving, not only a ferry service for vehicles, but of boat crossings for cyclists that would take 12 passengers and bikes on each trip.  

In fact, Brett Todd, the mayor of Prescott, has met with the Ogdensburg City Council to seek support--which he already has in his hometown--for a pilot project that would shuttle bicycles two weekends this summer.  He suggested the 19-21 July, which is Founders' Weekend in Ogdensburg, and 2-4 August, which is a civic holiday in Ontario.

Apparently, the folks on the New York side of the river are in favor of the project.  But their city council hasn't been able to do something that Todd has managed to do in his town.  He met with Canada Border Security, and they offered to support the pilot project, free of charge for two years. On the other hand, he explains, "Requests made by Ogdensburg city officials have not been met with quite as keen a response."

Those requests to the US Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security, he recalls, came back asking for new facilities and manpower the committee saw as excessive, especially considering how few passengers and bikes would be involved.  "An average family with a pontoon boat could bring that many people into the country," he said.

And they could start a chain migration of more people--and bicycles. Oh, my!

16 June 2019

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

This is a tribute, my father, or to fathers in general, but to all of the men who are partners or friends in one way or another.

And, of course, to the dads who ride bikes.

Now, I know that sometimes parents will "sneak" out for a ride on their kid's bike--at least, if the kid is of a certain age.  But it's not often we see a dad on a bike designed for a seven-year-old girl.

What made Peter Williams all the more incongruous on his daughter's little pink bike is that he's six feet tall.  But he didn't just toodle around the block on his kid's toy:  he pedaled it 211 miles from Bristol to Land's End, the farthest point on England's west coast.

His ride raised over 52,000 GBP--more than five times his goal--for research into brain tumors, the cause of his daughter Ellie's death at age 7.

He and his wife, Kaz, had given Ellie the bike for what would be her last Christmas, though neither of them realized it at the time.  He and Kaz would soon notice, however, that her eye started to cross and that "it wasn't just a facial gesture."  Soon after, the once-athletic girl started to lose her balance, and her confidence.  They brought her to a doctor, who ordered an MRI.  The results revealed the frightening news:  Ellie had a brain tumor and only months to live.

She was diagnosed in Bristol, where Peter started his ride.  Although he and Kaz have their own bikes and regularly participate in group rides, he rode his Ellie's bike because seeing it made him sad and he realized that the best way to deal with his feelings was to "put it to good use."

That, he did.