Working as an events mechanic is a blast. In my job for DT Swiss, I get to travel to festivals, races, tours, gravel grinders, etc, all over the U.S. (plus a couple of events in Canada). Once I show up in my Sprinter van, I get busy demoing our wheels and fixing broken stuff so people can keep on shredding the gnar (or asphalt). It's so awesome to work outdoors, helping nice people and being an ambassador for a great brand — I wouldn't trade it for the world. However, the flip side to road life is that, at times, there is the Monkey in Space phenomenon.
Last month, not only did I get to return to Earth, but I got to touch down in Biel, Switzerland, at the DT Swiss magical motherland where wheel dreams come true.
I knew I was in for an authentic European adventure when I spotted these dudes in the Frankfurt Flughafen (see, I even learned the German word for airport on this trip).
From there, I few to Zurich and hopped on a train to Biel. It was absolutely freezing and the clouds never lifted, denying me the stunning view of the lake and mountains that I was told was just beyond the fog. But that's okay, it's something to look forward to next time (which I hope happens during better weather for riding). Here's a photo of the building that they obviously took in the summertime.
The lobby has some fun displays for people to ogle... and who doesn't like a nice nipple collection?
In case you didn't know, the very original company that eventually became DT Swiss began in the 1600s, drawing wire for things like chainmail. The company as we know it today began in 1994, making bicycle wheel spokes — then expanding to hubs, nipples, wheels, rims, shocks and suspension forks (yes, really!).
Now, DT Swiss has subsidiaries in the USA, France, Germany, Poland and Taiwan. I got to meet folks from almost every office during my visit (here you can see the two gents from the German office, Thomas and Jan). Due to a travel snafu with one of my coworkers (hence I'll offer this Public Service Announcement: don't try to fly outside the U.S. if your passport has six months or less before it expires), I had to quickly prepare to give his presentation during the International Marketing Meeting. It detailed our sponsorship of Whistler Mountain and the Crankworx event, which I managed to deliver to a roomful of strangers without too much sweating or "ummm"-ing. That said, I certainly won't expect any public speaking requests to come my way anytime soon.
Next I joined a group of mechanics in the Service Center for technical training. I was the only American (and female) in a room full of folks from all over the globe. The training was delivered in English, to my relief, and then we all got our hands on various jobs, like replacing a spoke in the new DICUT hubs.
Luckily, the Swiss love to take frequent breaks, where everyone mobs the coffee machine and enjoys a fresh croissant. I'll definitely miss that when I'm driving in the boonies and can't even find a damn Starbucks.
During one of the evenings, a bunch of us drove to nearby Grenchen to check out the velodrome. I was a bit lost with all the announcing done in Swiss-German (not the same as "high" German, in case you were wondering), but it was still a lot of fun to watch.
Finally, I got one afternoon to poke around Zurich before flying home to Colorado, where I felt compelled to take some sort of Henri Cartier-Bresson inspired street photo before hustling off to the Flughafen.
I have to say, I was really pleased to meet so many of my international coworkers. Prior to this trip, I had only met one of our Swiss owners, Frank Böchmann, who slaughtered us at Go-Kart racing after Interbike last year. Speaking of which, don't waste time having high hopes while racing a guy who cut his teeth driving on the Autobahn.
In the end, I learned a ton from our global meetings, topped up my technical knowledge, and really got a feel for the Swiss approach to making well-designed, quality products. Speaking of which, Biel is a hotbed for watchmaking. The DT office is surrounded by factories for Rolex, Omega, Swatch, etc. I narrowly escaped coming home with a new watch... you can guess which one I could have afforded.
Now that I'm back in the States, I am off to Frostbike and then the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you out on the road!
- Marty C
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