Still a player during a strike

Glomar Inc began making baseball bats in the early 1990s, and by 1994 approximately 140 major league players had tried the bats. The baseball strike, which started late in the 1994 season, has hurt business but it has also given the company time to make production adjustments.

Our company makes professional-quality baseball bats. Last summer, major-league players went on strike, taking 94 percent of our market with them. For most firms, that would mean sure doom, but for us, it has meant new direction and faster-than-planned growth.

My family and friends and I started Glomar, Inc., based in Fullerton, Calif., more than three years ago. At the time, we figured that our best bet–given limited capital and resources–was to start at the top, establish our name in the big leagues, and then use those high-visibility sales to fund the manufacturing capabilities we would need to survive in retail and other markets.

We started by meeting strict major-league specifications. Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Roberto Alomar and Colorado Rockies first baseman Andres Galarraga used Glomar bats during the 1993 all-star game. After approval by major-league baseball late in 1993 for use in regular games, our usssa slow pitch softball bats were in the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie-of-the-year outfielder, Raul Mondesi, and the Texas Rangers’ designated hitter Jose Canseco, now with the Boston Red Sox.

By the time of the strike, about 140 big-league players had taken a turn at the plate with one of our bats, well above our 1994 goal of 15 to 20 players. We were scrambling to produce about 250 to 300 handmade bats a week and were preparing to add automation.

My passion for baseball began at an early age. As a kid in my native Cuba, I would play from 7 in the morning until you couldn’t see outside. Later, in the ’50s, I played center field in collegiate and semiprofessional leagues.

In the mid-’60s, my wife and other family members found it necessary to move to the United States. Fidel Castro’s government retaliated by putting me in a labor camp, where I remained for about a year and a half. Finally, I was able to leave for the U.S.

Once you’ve survived hardship, you develop a tenacity that helps you find solutions and turn problems into blessings. When the major-league players went on strike, we turned to where our five-year plan said to go next: retail. We pursued different strategies, including newspaper ads and trade-show appearances. And we have gone after bids from clients who wanted novelty and memorabilia bats. Since the strike began, we have achieved a significant level of sales at sporting-goods stores and batting-cage parks. We are also making inroads through independent dealers who sell to amateur teams.

Another area of focus is in the Caribbean region, where interest in baseball is high. As early as 1991, we introduced the bats with the help of major-league customers who play in off-season winter leagues in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Production figures reflect our company’s change in focus after the strike began. From March to August of 1994, Glomar produced 6,000 professional-quality bats. From September to December, we produced 8,000 bats, most of them commercial-quality. If negotiations with several major distributors go well, we could make as many as 125,000 commercial-quality bats in 1995. An influx of capital has allowed us to begin adding the automation we need.

The past year has been difficult, but the rewards could be great. Here are some of the important lessons we have learned:

* By keeping our employees informed and treating them like members of the family, we have helped them understand the critical nature of the situation, and they have responded accordingly. Nonetheless, we have had to lay off workers.

* We should have shot for a higher percentage of retail business from the beginning. We put most of our eggs in one basket. This was a mistake. We needed a better balance of business from the start.

* Our business plan provided us with alternatives. When the strike began, we didn’t have to scramble to determine what to do and how to do it. Instead, we were able to pick up on things we had put aside and mobilize quickly to compensate for the lost business.

The result is that we should not only survive but also be better off than we were before baseball’s worst season.

Targeting younger, trendier consumers who want comfortable shoes

Comfortable shoe manufacturers are expanding their product lines in 1998. The shoes will be comfortable, stylish and technologically advanced. Easy Spirit introduced Anti-Gravity technology in its athletic footwear in Feb 1997 and will introduce it in the dress, activewear and casual product lines in 1998. Naturalizer’s Metro Active collection features tailored looks, a new footbed construction and newer shapes.

Manufacturers of comfortable footwear are opting for a walk on the wilder side.

Come show time next month, buyers will be seeing bolder, more aggressive looks. Not only are beefed-up bottoms and bright colors making headlines in the comfort zone, these attributes are paralleling some of the hottest innovations in the athletic market.

Younger consumers and aging baby boomers are discovering that comfort footwear doesn’t mean the dowdy, unsophisticated shoes that grandma wore. Suddenly, “comfort” is no longer an ugly word as many classic comfort vendors invite some rather unconventional options into their collections.

Just ask traditional brands like Dr. Scholl’s, Rockport, Naturalizer, Clarks and others that have updated their fall ’98 selections with styles that, in some cases, tread on space-age and ultrahip territory.

Why did it take the industry so long to wake up and realize that the foot can be indulged in comfort and look stylish at the same time?

For one, attitudes toward comfort have changed in the past couple of seasons. Younger casual-shoe consumers have broader tastes that go beyond wearing white athletic shoes and are catching on to all the other viable alternatives out there.

“That age group just won’t settle for anything that looks grannylike,” said Lisa Hanly, marketing manager for Dr. Scholl’s, a division of St. Louis-based Brown Group Inc., which she said will show an evolutionary range of fall ’98 styles at FFANY and WSA that will deviate from traditional Dr. Scholl’s designs. The stilettos that saturated last season’s runways didn’t spark the imaginations of most consumers, said Hanly, and now they are searching for comfortable, yet fun and fashionable footwear.

As companies spin out more directional comfort, come next fall, consumers will experience a category that’s exploding with sophisticated and high-tech options for almost any activity. They might even discover that comfortable mens shoes for high arches have finally become chic enough to be fashionable (much the same way athletic brands got their status appeal last year.)

For one thing, flexible, lightweight and visible technologies — the same ones that go into athletic engineering — are charting an unprecedented level of comfort and fusing it with fashion.

“Technology has become fashion,” said Maggi Mercado, vice president and general manager of the women’s division for The Rockport Co., Marlboro, Mass., “which in turn allows us to build comfortable, hip shoes.” She cited lightweight textured nylons, neoprene and microfibers, EVA outsoles, and removable, breathable insoles as a few of the innovations allowing for fashion that’s comfortable.

“Timely fashion can be interpreted in a comfort vein,” added Cliff Pyle, senior vice president and merchandising for the Easy Spirit brand, which has recently moved into a more contemporary camp with updated patterns and lasts. “Whatever is right for the style of the season could be and should be interpreted in [comfort lines],” said Pyle, who is helping the brand raise the stakes with the introduction of its new Anti-Gravity technology.

First incorporated into Easy Spirit’s athletic styles in February, consumer response to the high-tech layered suspension system has been so overwhelming, said Pyle, that the same functional technology will be infused into the brand’s tailored dress, casual and activewear styles, all of which will retail from $69 to $79.

Likewise, Naturalizer is also a purveyor of younger attitudes, as the brand launches a more aggressive collection called Metro Active — tailored looks featuring fresher toe shapes and elasticized gore on a new footbed construction.

While Metro Active is almost junior-market in its appeal, Naturalizer denies any attempt to enter that area. “We’re not chasing the junior customer,” said Brad Adams, director of marketing for Naturalizer, a division of Brown Group Inc. “We never have. It’s not the business we’re in.”

One retailer, John Kyriannis of Lord John’s Bootery, New York, agreed that comfort companies are chasing teenage consumers, although he said he doesn’t plan to cater to that age group. Kyriannis carries lines like Clarks, Reiker and Birkenstock in his store. These Eurocomfort vendors, he said, are getting into dressier looks, and “by the same token many fashion manufacturers are attempting to put orthotic-type padding into hiking shoes for plantar fasciitis to attract the consumer who wants comfort.”

He cited such examples as Carlo Morandi and Kenneth Cole as fashion labels that have added cushioned insoles to their shoes. Kyriannis added that his customers would be more likely to buy higher-heeled designs as long as the construction was comfortable. U.S. comfort brands have many reasons to reinvent their images. Except for Rockport and Easy Spirit, many labels have been virtually locked out of comfort shops by the Birkenstocks, Mephistos and Eccos of the world. But they’re aiming to take back market share, teaching consumers that shoes don’t have to be expensive and European to be comfortable.

By assuming a pseudo-European image, and making their mainstream appeal more edgy, American comfort brands plan to entice Eurocomfort consumers with details such as Velcro closures and beefy, molded bottoms — modern design characteristics that lend themselves strictly to comfort.

“Euro influences are being taken to a new level, and American brands are at the forefront of this trend,” said Mercado. “They have applied the expertise of casualwear and sportswear to the design of footwear.”

“We don’t really consider [Metro Active] to be Eurocasual wannabes,” said Naturalizer’s Adams. “We’re on a mission to stop white athletic shoes from being paired with khakis.” As the comfort market heats up, Naturalizer sees a perfect opportunity to draw on its comfort heritage with a younger, futuristic feel to its shoes.

“We really needed to freshen our styling and assortment,” Adams continued. “Naturalizer means comfort, but it also meant stodgy and matronly. [Our customer] demands more current, contemporary styling than her mother did.”

In contrast, Born is a U.S. brand utilizing heavy Eurocomfort influences on an American last. “The whole idea is to take the Opanka European construction, and use American components and a design that offer a unique comfort shoe and great value,” said Keith Duplain, director of sales for the men’s Born division of H.H. Brown, Greenwich, Conn. Men’s styles range from $79 to $99 retail, while women’s are priced from $59 to $85.

However, companies like Born are downplaying their mild flirtation with style, and still emphasizing core product. While some Born styles are extremely fashion-forward, the bulk of units sold are more classic patterns, said Duplain. “What is working for us is our basics — what has been in the line for a year. We’re updating leathers and making modifications to our core product — you’re not going to see a lot of platforms and pointy toes in the Born line for fall ’98, but we’re still catering to the mainstreamin no way are we trying to be on the leading edge.

“I wore tennis shoes a lot of my life,” added Duplain. “The baby boomers are very familiar with the comfort features that are built into a tennis-shoe-type of product. But their tennis shoes don’t go with everything, so they’re looking for work shoes for bunions that are stylish and just as comfortable as their sneakers — shoes that will go with their Casual Friday wardrobes.”

Yet Duplain said age is not a factor in the line’s styling or marketing. “The average age of a person buying Born is around 40. With men’s, it’s younger, mid to late ’20s. We’re not out there targeting an age of people, we’re targeting a lifestyle,” he said.

Pyle is reluctant to say Easy Spirit is targeting younger consumers, but rather those with broader taste levels. “A 70-year-old woman can have a timely, modern taste level. She’s not the little old lady with the walker anymore.”

Still, industry veterans like Rockport’s Mercado claim young people are putting comfort at the top of their priority list. “I have an 18-year-old son who refuses to wear shoes that aren’t comfortable,” said Mercado.

“We have just delivered our spring ’98 transitional collections featuring younger, funkier patterns,” she continued, adding that these styles not only push the envelope on youthful looks, they’re also proving to be Rockport’s best sellers. “If the young consumer has the benefit of her shoes feeling good, she’s sold.”

Men’s jewelry: tasteful, classic & high quality

In Rochester, N.Y. the wife of a sports enthusiast asked her jeweler to custom-make a pin that looked like a Porsche. The assignment went to designer David Nytch at Richards and West, a manufacturer known for its quality men’s jewelry.

Working from a photo borrowed from a car dealer, Nytch came up with what may be the first Porsche ever miniaturized in a 1-1/2-in.-long relief sculpture in 14k gold. Its tiny windows are paved in diamonds, a total of nearly 70 points. The pin/pendant will cost the jeweler about $700 wholesale.

The woman’s gift to her husband illustrates the state of the men’s jewelry market. It’s hot, say several manufacturers, especially for those selling classic, high-quality karat gold.

Men, like women, are dressing up. Instead of the heavy gold chains and leasure-look jewelry of the ’60s and ’70s, the move is toward tasteful rings and karat gold jewelry accessories, especially shirt jewelry.

Though the men’s jewelry market isn’t a fraction of the women’s, manufacturers of men’s accessories say there’s enough demand to warrant their lines, especially in 14k gold. Those making rings report steady gains in the classic geometric shapes with rows of small diamonds.

The only cloud on the horizon for these suppliers is the move they see by others to get on the bandwagon.

Chip Tolbert, fashion director of the Men’s Fashion Association, New York City, says “discretion is the key word” in men’s jewelry styles. Tolbert, himself voted into the Hall of Fame of the International Men’s Best Dressed List, says the feeling will be heavily understated.

Not as much jewelry will be worn around the neck as in years past, he said. And the few men’s bracelets around will be “rather discreet.” Lapel pins will be worn primarily by younger men, especially for evening.

Collar bars will be strong, he forecasts. Tolbert personally dislikes tie tacks because they “ruin the tie.”

Men wearing precious stones will be low-key in their selections, “so they don’t look like Chicago gangsters,” he says. Studs and cuff links will be elegant for evening.

In watches, men will follow the wardrobe concept, with different looks for day, evening and sport.

Of cuff links for day, he says, “I would hope they’re going to be wearing them, if they can find French cuffs shirts.”

While the look will be “elegantly conservative,” the price may deter an all-out boom in men’s jewelry. It’s crather expensive,” Tolbert says. “I don’t think it’s the op priority on any man’s list.” Not #1

No one disagrees that jewelry rarely is a man’s highest priority. A new study by the International Gold Corporation (Intergold) shows that men rate karat gold jewelry much higher as a gift for women than as a preference among themselves.

The new Jewelry Desirability Study is based on interviews with 1800 people (including 800 men) done before and after Christmas 1983. The results are projected to the upper one-third of all U.S. households ($25,000-income and up).

The study found that men expressed less interest in owning gold jewelry for themselves than in having vacations, video cassette recorders, sporting equipment, etc. In contrast, women ranked jewelry second among luxuries they most desired. Only resort vacations ranked above it.

Yet, the survey found, men do own jewelry. Thus, 64% of those surveyed (ages 18 to 59) own one or more pieces of real gold jewelry (two items on average). Rings (excluding wedding, engagement or class rings) are the most popular item. And 17% of the men said they always wear gold jewelry, averaging two items at a time. Likewise, 17% said they had acquired a piece of gold jewelry in the past 12 months; 5% got two or more items.

Seven in 10 men received their latest piece of gold jewelry as a gift, with nearly half of all gifts received from wives.

Figure’s supplied by Intergold showed that the average price of men’s jewelry in 1983 was $181 for karat gold ($147 for all precious metals, including silver). A ring for his finger

Looking at men’s diamond jewelry, a 1984 study for N.W. Ayer, on behalf of De Beers, found that rings had reclaimed their market share after a drastic drop the previous year.

The annual report, called the “Market for Diamond Jewelry–United States,” showed that diamond rings had a 59% market share in 1983, up from 46% in 1982 (but 60% in 1981). Mens Tissot watches accounted for part of that shift. Thus, the market share for men’s diamond watches fell off from 16% in ’82 to 7% in ’83. That was an aberration, according to a research analyst at N.W. Ayer, who said, “1982 was a year people went out and bought a diamond watch, and you’d only ever buy one.”

In ’83, the men’s diamond ring market was divided among wedding rings (10%), lodge/club rings (3%), school rings (3%) and all other (43%), for a total market share of 59%.

What was the rest? Tie tacks and tie clips accounted for 15%; Stuhrling original watches, 7%; pendants, 6%; lodge and club insignia, 3%; bracelets, 1%, and all other, 8%.

In women’s jewelry, N.W. Ayer pushes for bigger and better diamonds. But in men’s jewelry, the emphasis is on more conservative pieces with a long-term goal of bringing more men into the market.

Men’s diamond jewelry sales hit $809 million in 1983, up about $2 million. Gifts again accounted for a major portion of the total. Thus, 42% of sales were gifts for married men; 26% were gifts for singles; 9% were married men buying for themselves, and 23% were singles making self-purchases. A look at the merchandise

At Colibri, a Providence, R.I., manufacturer of men’s accessories, the movement is in cuff links, button covers, tie tacks, tie bars and collar accessories (pins and collar bars), according to Robert c. Yaseen, executive vice president for marketing. The market for money clips, key rings and pocket knives is stable, he says.

Yaseen sees a very strong men’s fashion move toward dressing up and a long-lasting trend of increased sales in classic-looking men’s jewelry. He predicts growth in wrist wear and rings as well.

Colibri will stay with its tailored look, he says. With the gold price stable, he expects a resurgence in gold-filled and karat gold jewelry, though he sees the whole category–including a mix of metals–growing at all price points.

In the past year there’s been “a tremendous amount of enthusiasm which we haven’t seen in some time,” Yaseen says. He predicts “substantial over-the-counter movement” in the next two years.

Anson Inc. is another Providence, R.I., firm that is big in men’s accessories. Michael Eagle, vice president for consumer products, sees movement toward 14K gold and diamonds, especially in tie tacks, the hottest selling item. Collar bars, Eagle says, are close on their heels.

“We’ve been pushing 14k, expanding the line in it,” Eagle says. “It’s growing dramatically. Gold is the hottest end of the business.”

He says Anson always had precious metal items, but decided to make 1984-’85 its expansion year in tie bars, money clips, even button covers and stud sets for tuxedos.

It was tested and did well, Eagle says, so the company came out with a full line in April. Anson did almost as much business in gold in the expanded line’s first three months as it did in gold in the whole of last year.

In expanding the line, the company “became very competitively priced,” Eagle comments.

It also offered distributors a mock display of the gold line in brass. Gold jewelry is custom-ordered from the mock-up, saving the investment in an all-gold display.

Eagle is aware that a boom in men’s jewelry can have repercusions.

“For us, it’s easy. All we ever did is men’s jewelry. But every Tom, Dick and Harry is jumping into men’s jewelry; it’s a hot category.”

He is somewhat consoled by a move by women into men’s jewelry. His company is making button covers and cuff links in smaller sizes, for female executives. “It happens to be a nice area,” Eagle says.

Why the move toward gold? Partially, it’s an improvement in the economy. “And the person who bought brass last year wants karat gold this year, not gold-filled or sterling,” he says.

The lack of demand for gold-filled and sterling is more a problem with the merchandiser and distributor than with the customer, he adds. In general, women’s gold-filled and sterling aren’t moving well, so jewelers are pre-sold on the concept that men’s gold-filled and sterling won’t sell, he says. “It will sell when it’s properly presented.”

To market men’s karat gold jewelery, Frederick Goldman Inc., New York City, has a new cooperative program with N.W. Ayer and Intergold to fund national magazine advertising. Ads will target men in major mixed-audience magazines and target women, as the major buyers of jewelry for men, in national women’s magazines.

To insure local newspaper advertising Goldman is offering cooperative ad allowances for dealers using Goldman ad slicks, according to Jonathan Goldman, vice president for marketing.

Goldman’s men’s collection to get national ad attention includes a tie tack, tie bar, ring and cuff links, with heavy emphasis on the tie tacks and rings. Geometric rings with single stone solitaires are “the pride of the market this season,” Goldman comments.

With rings in the lead, he notes that the men’s business is doing “terrifically well” at his firm.

Tie bars, cuff links and tie tacks are new there. The company introduced them this year, Goldman says, when it determined there was “a void in the marketplace.” Most accessories were by base metal manufacturers, Goldman says.

He adds that men’s business is there for those who want it. “If you promote it,” he says, “it’s a viable market.”

Men, however, were far less interested in gold jewelry for themselves. They preferred vacations, video cassette recorders, sporting equipment, etc. But they ranked gold jewelry high on their list of gift preferences for women, with 40% of the men ranking it first or second.

Other highlights of the 1984 study:

* Women, on average, own eight pieces of karat gold jewelry, excluding wedding, engagement and class rings and Nixon mens watches.

* One in four women owns more than 10 gold jewelry items.

* Necklaces, chains and pendants are the most commonly-owned types of items, followed closely by karat gold (three items at a time, on average). The more frequently a women wears jewelry, the more pieces she wears, the survey found.

Half of all women acquired at least one gold jewelry item during the past year, either as a gift or self-purchase. A third of all women acquired two or more items in the past year.

Of the women who acquired gold jewelry, nearly 80% received their last item as a gift, usually from their husbands. Twenty percent of the women bought the item for themselves.

Forty-one percent of the women surveyed bought a gift of gold jewelry for someone else in the last 12 months; 19% made two or more gift purchases. The predominant recipients were daughters (32%), husbands (22%), parents (17%) and other relatives (17%).

The survey also found that 44% of the men bought a gift of gold jewelry in the last 12 months–approximately equal to the proportion of women gift buyers (41%). Half of the men who bought gifts purchased at least two items. Nearly 80% of the gifts were given to their wives.

Philip Schonfeld, vice president and general manager of Martin Flyer Inc., New York City, says the season’s strongest item is a 14k yellow gold gent’s ring with bright, flat surfaces and channel-set stones in rows, not clusters.

Bracelets are selling well, he says, but pendants “are not that strong.”

He notes slightly more demand for men’s plain or diamond wedding bands. And he’s sold a few “triples”–women’s wedding and engagement ring sets with a matching men’s wedding ring.

For more than 35 years, Flyer has found a steady demand for its classic handcut diamond initial ring in a chunky 14k yellow gold with white gold plate. “That ring is half of our gent’s rings,” Schonfeld says. “It continues to sell.”

In an admittedly more expensive vein is a two-year-old firm that has been successful with men’s shirting jewelry and is just now testing the market for men’s rings.

Richards and West, the Rochester firm that made the Porsche pin, produces a classic look that relies on flat, polished surfaces; insets of precious stones or such stones as lapis, onyx and ivory, and very geometric shapes.

It’s very tailored, say owners John Keim and David Nytch, who is the designer.

About half its line is men’s jewelry, including cuff links, collar bars, tie tacks and stud sets with cuff links. It’s now testing men’s ring mountings, wedding bands and diamonds, following the same classic, tailored design concept. The expanded line, also to include a few men’s bracelets, is due next spring.

The collar bars, its strongest sellers right now, range from $140 wholesale for 14k gold to $300 for bars with two 10-point diamonds. The line is all handmade to order to allow maximum flexibility.

“We’ve even branched into the custom area; we’ll do outrageous requests,” Nytch says, explaining how he got the Porsche assignment.

The partners have doubled their men’s business in the past year. They say their name “is beginning to be more and more notice as a manufacturer of men’s jewelry.”

Though men’s jewelry is hot, they say, it has by no means peaked. What’s been on the move in major cities like New York is just now filtering down to smaller cities like Rochester, which is about one-and-a-half years behind in trends. To make the most of the men’s jewelry boomlet, the partners urge increased retailer participation.

“Retailers live in their own little world,” they say. “They sell what they think is safe and anything they think is new–though men’s jewelry is nothing new–they’re reluctant to try. They wait for the guy down the street to take the risk.” Resort collection by jewelry designer

Jewelry designer Marsha Brayton Hoffman, whose line is carried by the lord & Taylor department store chain, introduced her “Newport Collection” of resort jewelry this summer at the high-fashion Martha Tucker boutique in Newport, R.I.

The new collection is priced from $65 to $300 retail and includes ear-rings, large belt buckles, bracelets, and large and dramatic necklaces. The materials usually are striking, massive combinations of sterling, gold, brass, copper and beads, new and antique. N.E.I. offers versatile designs

New from N.E.I. House of Chains, New York City, are “Changeables,” a line of bracelets and necklaces that go from plain to fancy with the addition of diamond slip-ons.

The armored mesh bracelet or necklace takes one or several slip-ons; designs in gold and diamonds that have a sophisticated locking mechanism to secure them in place. Once the design is on the chain, in place, the special safety catch snaps shut to see that the slip-on isn’t lost.

The bracelets wholesale for $100 and the slip-ons for $50 to $300 each, depending on the diamond weight. All are 14k gold. Among the eight slip-on designs are a butterfuly, a heart, a honeybee and an oval with eight diamonds.

“Ingenious . . . to say the least,” is how the company is promoting Changeables. “Wear it as plain gold for casual . . . or add diamonds for dress-up!”

Selling aids include a color counter card, newspaper ads and booklet. Colored stones will be added to the slip-on designs.

A pair of pedal pushers

Quigley, 25, is a track cyclist who has won the individual-pursuit championships four times. Golay, 33, is a top road racer who participated in the 1992 Olympics. Both women are training rigorously in hopes of making the US Olympic team in 1996.

It’s not a coincidence that Janie Quigley of Los Alamitos, California, began cycling the same year the 1984 Olympics were held in nearby Los Angeles. Just 14 at the time, she was a star high-school soccer player who,d been sidelined by a nasty knee injury. She was open to suggestion when her father came home from the Games jazzed about a sport he,d just seen: track cycling.

Perhaps it was her dad’s experience as a race-car driver that attracted him to an activity in which athletes chase round and round a velodrome. Whatever the reason, Quigley herself was soon smitten with track cycling. As a junior racer, she collected five national titles and two world championships, plus two national titles in speedskating, her cross-training sport.

Now 25 and an undergrad studying nutrition and dietetics at the University of Delaware in Wilmington, Quigley is a four-time national champion in the individual-pursuit race. Two cyclists compete in this whirlwind event, starting at opposite ends of the track and trying to overtake each other (if that proves impossible, one wins by beating the other’s time). She also lays claim to five national championships in the points race, an event in which 24 riders share the same quarterk kilometer track for 100 laps, breaking it up every five laps with a full-on sprint

Despite all her wins, though, Quigley-hasn’t made it to the Olympics–yet. In 1992, although she,d dominated the individual-pursuit event for two years, circumstances conspired to keep her off the Olympic team: Each country is allowed only one entry in the 3,000-meter individual-pursuit, and Quigley, who,d suffered a hamstring pull, was beaten out for the berth by cycling dynamo Rebecca Twigg.

Still, 1996 looms on the horizon, and Quigley hasn’t given up on her Olympic dream. And since a points race has been added to the Games, you could say her chances of competing in Atlanta have just doubled.

Jeanne Golay

Three cyclists will represent the United States in the 110-kilometer road race over some of Atlanta’s curviest streets next summer. Veteran racer Jeanne Golay hopes to be one of them–and although the final qualifying race for the Olympic team won’t be held until June 1996, her prospects look good.

It won’t be the first time for the 33year-old Golay. She was the top U.S. finisher at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, coming in sixth in the road race. Most recently, she holds the titles of 1995 Fresca points champion and winner of the road race at the 1995 Pan Am Games.

Golay, who’s from Hollywood, Florida, got into cycling when she was 20 and her sister invited her out for a weekend ride. A volleyball and softball star in high school, she quickly channeled all her athletic energy into cycling. Six years later she captured the alternate spot for the Seoul Olympics. Still, at the time there wasn’t much in the way of prize money for female cyclists, and Golay lived out of her Honda, racing to win money to buy gas to get her to the next race.

Women’s cycling has since blossomed. Golay’s now a member of the prestigious Saturn cycling team and has a sponsorship deal with Trek. And instead of living out of her car, she’s now firmly ensconced in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a site that fosters her somewhat unconventional method of cross-training: telemark skiing, when most cyclists are skate skiing the flats or lifting weights.

Masi Team 3V

Choosing a road bike is a lot like choosing a violin. Think about it: Violins and road bikes all look alike and are used the same way. But to a skilled violinist or cyclist, they differ in certain nuances – in tone, in feel, and in the way they please you. Subtle things, true, but also important.

The $1,985 (without pedals) Masi Team 3V is like a fine Italian-school violin.

OK, the one we tested was a screaming red violin with brilliant yellow decals. It’s sufficiently showy to make a group of school kids yell, “Hey, bitchin’ bike!” But its tone and feel were on par with a nice fiddle all the same. Think of it as a Strad that’s been chrome plated with flames painted on it, but which still sounds as good as when it was brown.

A road racing bike’s feel is determined by a complex combination of factors, including frame geometry, type of tubing and wall thickness, rims, tires – maybe even crankarm stiffness. If all of these things jell, you get a magical bike that makes you feel good. The Masi is like this.

The Team 3V is the latest refinement of a concept that was fairly radical when it emerged in the mid ’80s: oversize, thin-wall steel tubes silver-brazed to the outside of internal lugs. Masi did it before many other steel-bike manufacturers succumbed to the design’s advantage: more stiffness for less weight.

This latest version comes with appropriately classic-yet-exotic Reynolds 753 steel tubing uniquely developed for Masi. Some of the weight saved by the thin tubing is regained in the internal lugs, but absolute minimum frame weight isn’t what the Team 3V is about. Balance between stiffness and liveliness is. The frame’s feel, coupled with seemingly unremarkable geometry (74/73.5-degree head/seat angles), produce a ride so sweet you might just want to walk right past the titanium, carbon fiber, and aluminum sections of your favorite cycling supermarket.

Weighty issues

The Team 3V frame and complete bike, however, are relatively heavy. Our sample frame weighed 4.26 pounds without fork, and the whole package was 22.2 pounds without pedals. The Sachs New Success parts are durable, but not feathery. Mind you, the bike doesn’t feel/heavy. If you just ride it and stay away from scales, you’ll never know the difference.

Though it has italian cachet, the Team 3V is made in California from British tubing. A frameset with steel fork costs about $1,000. Sustaining the international theme, a fully equipped 3V comes with a Sachs group and Campagnolo Ergopower brake/shift levers, Modolo handlebar and stem, Campy headset, Selle Italia Turbo saddle, a rather shockingly ugly seatpost (“Whoa, Marv! We gotta cut some cost on this baby!”), and Torelli clincher rims with excellent Vittoria Open Challenge Kevlar tires. Ah, yes, and air pedals. The bad news is you don’t get any; the good news is you can get what you want.

The Sachs drivetrain components are generally good-looking and durable, and the shifting is what it is. Dr. Z and I are fans of Ergopower, but other Bicycling editors aren’t so fond. The way I see it, Ergopower shifting is designed for big, meaty fingers in the heat of battle. Namby-pamby mineral-water sippers should stick to dainty Shimano STI. Of course, STI will be wearing out just as Ergopower is breaking in, but it’s up to you.

My first ride on the Team 3V produced a 30-mile smile, and I kept riding it despite a garage full of tasty test machines. The 3V, or Tre Volumetrica, concept (the liveliness of large-diameter tubes kept from harshness through the miracle of very thin walls) really works. The bike handles in a sprightly way, yet eats buzzy macadam surfaces like a carbon fiber model. In fact, the frame rides more like carbon than it does titanium, steel or aluminum, and that’s a compliment. Hard cornering feels safe and happy, white-line drones are stable and relaxing, and sprints and climbs are energizing and (as Masi’s literature says) “zingy.”

Although this Masi isn’t as light as its frame technology might lead you to expect, it works as well as it looks. It is truly an excellent violin.

Celebrity corset showdown

A sneak peek of celebrity-designed corsets for the second annual Frederick’s of Hollywood Lingerie Art Auction & Fashion Show gives the lowdown on what kind of lingerie Tinseltown celebs like — sleek, sexy and, at times, whimsical.

The lineup of more than a dozen celebrity-designed corsets promises to make the Oct. 20 event at The Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles unusual in a town where everything has been seen and done. A cocktail party, as well as a live auction, will be staged around the hotel’s David Hockney-painted swimming pool, followed by a formal fashion show. On Oct. 18, Frederick’s will sponsor an online auction of corsets at fredericks.com.

Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon will host the event, and she has not only designed the best tummy cincher called Prayer of the Heart, which will be available as a limited-edition piece at Frederick’s of Hollywood, but also has codesigned a “Thelma and Louise”-inspired corset with her co-star in that film, Geena Davis, which is detailed in amusing mini-Wild Turkey bourbon bottles.

Other celebrity designs will include A Man’s Dream by Britney Spears; a “Sopranos”-inspired Carmela number by Edie Falco; a feathered Christmas Corset by Julianne Moore; an ingenue potted daisies style by Cyndi Lauper; a ribbon-embellished look from model and actress Eva Mendes, and a sequined scissor motif style by the Scissor Sisters, a rock band from the U.K. that has sold more than three million CDs in the U.S. There also will be one-of-a-kind corsets designed by Olivia Newton-John and Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues.”

“I’m so excited for this year’s Lingerie Art Auction,” Sarandon said in a statement. “I participated last year with my daughter, Eva, and had a great time. Frederick’s of Hollywood asked me to host this year to benefit RAINN [the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network], so I’ve enlisted my friends and colleagues to create corsets for the event. We’ve gotten submissions from everyone from Julianne Moore to Britney Spears. My hope is that this auction raises not only funds for RAINN, but also awareness of their very important mission.”

Last year’s event raised more than $90,000 for Expedition/Inspiration — Take a Hike, a charity for breast cancer research.

How to clean tight turns and avoid nasty obstacles

Riding a mountain bike on complicated singletrack is as rewarding as anything you can do on 2 wheels. It is also infinitely challenging, because there will always be plenty of trail that you will not be able to ride, no matter how good you are.

As a mountain biker, you have to make a decision. Do you avoid trails you can’t ride, sticking to those within your comfort zone? Or do you work on your skills and gradually master bits of a difficult trail until you can ride the whole thing?

When I started riding off-road 14 years ago, those difficult sections held frightening obstacles, such as a 6-inch log or a tight corner with a 4-inch rock. Now my challenges are more strenuous, but the thrill of conquest remains.

Bicycling is introducing this column to help you learn the skills you need to ride your mountain bike better. We hope to motivate, entertain, and educate – enabling you to get the most out of your off-road experience. Mostly we’ll work on skills, but we may also offer a humorous or cautionary tale – some even based on fact.

We kick off with one of the most basic skills: cleaning tight corners. Here are the essentials: Be in the right gear, control your balance by pedaling against light resistance from your brakes, choose the right line, and lean your torso forward and to the outside of the turn.

The right gear

This depends on how strong you are and how tight the corner is. But most tight turns respond well to a small chainring/third-largest cog combination (usually 24x21T). This moderately low gear gives you plenty of torque to accelerate out of midcorner trouble, yet isn’t so low that you’re flailing. The small ring/big cog combo is almost always too low; you don’t spin through a tight, technical corner, you push. A higher gear also gives you a better chance to avoid striking obstacles with your pedals.

Pedal against the brakes

Every time you stomp your pedal through a power stroke, you accelerate. In a tight corner, each time you accelerate, you straighten up. Light, delicate pedaling is needed to maintain speed through a tight corner. By dragging both brakes lightly, you can pedal at a more reasonable effort while at the same time smoothing both your speed and your cornering arc with the brakes.

Use your index and second fingers on both levers while maintaining your grip on the handlebar with your thumb and outer 2 fingers. If you need to tighten your line, squeeze the brakes a bit harder. Need to widen the arc? Ease off the brakes. Practice by riding in circles in both directions, first on a level surface then on an incline.

Pick the right line

In general, choosing a path through a tight corner at low speed requires the same strategy as taking a wide corner at a high speed. Enter wide, cut to the apex at midcorner, then return to the outside. Make the turn as wide as possible, because when you add obstacles, things get more complex.

I’ve watched a thousand novice mountain bikers do it wrong. They carefully choose a line through an obstacle-infested corner that will keep their front wheels away from obstacles, but they forget about the rear wheel. They ride around a midcorner rock, neatly missing the glistening, evil thing with the front end, and just when they are starting to puff with pride, the rear wheel hits the rock dead on. (They then stop abruptly and fall over with a puzzled look on their faces.)

Remember: The rear wheel tracks inside the front wheel a little in a medium-speed turn, and a lot in a tight, slow turn. If you ride through a tight corner then go back and look at your tire tracks (or look at the photos at left), you’ll see what I mean. The rear wheel can track inside the front by a foot or more. This means you have to run your front wheel outside that midcorner obstacle to ensure that the rear wheel will miss it – like, say, a foot outside.

Here’s How to Pack Your Lunch With Power

How do I find more time to ride? If you’re a cyclist, you’ve asked yourself this question numerous times. We all struggle with squeezing enough riding time into an already packed schedule. Jobs, families, and other interests make 24 hours shrink faster than cheap cycling socks.

You could commute to work on your bike, but you’ve never been able to get past the classic excuses – time, convenience, safety. There is another option. Join the lunch bunch.

Noon rides free your evenings for other activities and invigorate you for the afternoon droop that hits most people between 1 and 5 p.m. But is it really possible to fit a worthwhile workout into 60 minutes, desk to desk? Masters racer Dave George of Grand Junction, Colorado, says it is.

George squeezes a training ride into his lunch hour with 4-8 of his Rust Geotech, Inc., colleagues every day. “During the season, it’s plenty of quality work,” he says. “And in the winter, it’s enough maintenance so I can start riding more in February and be going well in a month. The ride makes our afternoons much more productive, and it’s a great stress reliever. It really changes your outlook.”

Follow along with George and we promise to get you on the bike and back at the desk in one hour. Clock’s ticking…

12:00-12:07 Change

Grab your duffel and head for the changing room. If your workplace doesn’t have locker rooms and showers, try the restroom. Other possibilities are a private office, a janitor’s closet, or a storeroom. Can’t find a lockable door? Post a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Save time by packing your riding clothes so the items on top are what you put on first; for example, shorts, undershirt, jersey is a good order. Some riders wear cycling shorts under their regular pants so they can change quickly and without baring everything (a ploy perfected by Superman). Hang your work clothes or fold them neatly to save time when you put them back on. Head for your bike – walkable cleats make the journey easier. If the bike storage area is secure, you should have left your gloves, helmet, eyewear, and jacket (if necessary) hanging from the bars. Put them on and head out.

12:07-12:15 Warm up

Spin easily, increasing gearing and cadence every minute until you’re cranking pretty hard. As you’re doing this, you should decide what route you’ll ride and be pedaling toward it. Ideal cycling roads might not unroll directly from your office door, but you don’t need scenic splendor to stay fit. George chooses from 4 main loops his group can cover in predictable times. (Out-and-backs seem to work best for time management.) If the weather is bad, they stay close and do hill repeats. Another option is a training criterium on a 1-2 mile loop on quiet suburban streets or in an industrial park or office complex. Ease off for a minute before the workout begins.

12:15-12:50 Train

Crank away. The Geotech crew goes hard every day. “The rides are so short that we recover,” George says. But listen to your body. Five days of intervals or sprints might drain your energy and enthusiasm for weekend riding. (Afternoons at work won’t be much fun either.) If you need easy days, spin and enjoy shorter mileage. Here are 6 workouts that cram a lot of training into 35 minutes:

  1. Do 15 minutes at time trial pace, 5 minutes easy, another 15 minutes of time trialing.
  2. Ride 4 sets of 5 minutes each at time trial pace with 3-4 minutes recovery between.
  3. Do hill repeats. Ride hard up a 1/2-mile hill, then roll down easily. Repeat.
  4. Jam into an all-out sprint every 5 minutes. Roll easily in between.
  5. Do ladders. Go hard for 1 minute, then 2 minutes, then 3, 4, 5, and 6. Separate each effort with 2-3 minutes of easy spinning.
  6. Team time trial. Trade pulls at the front of a paceline (set a limit such as 1-2 minutes or 30 pedal strokes) and go as hard as you can. This works better with a closely matched group.

12:50-12:53 Warm down

Three minutes isn’t much time to cool off after a hard effort, so time your last training effort to end with a 2- to 3-minute recovery. The combination is good enough to loosen your legs.

12:53-12:59 Clean up

Stash your bike, head for the changing room, and strip. Save time by stuffing your cycling garb in the bag instead of carefully packing. If you have a shower, jump in and rinse off. Ten-minute steam-soaks are nice, but the mission here is to get presentable for possible afternoon meetings. Company doesn’t have a shower’? Use rubbing alcohol and a washcloth to sponge off. The alcohol removes odors and cools you enough to stop perspiration. In cool weather it’s possible to skip the cleanup entirely.

1:00 Get Back to Work

George eats at his desk and sips sports drinks to rehydrate and replenish carbo stores. Or you can snack at your afternoon break.

LUNCH BREAKAWAY

Trying to fit a quality ride into the short time you once used to chomp down a burger and fries can be intimidating. Here’s how to start.

  1. Sell supervisors on the idea. Remind them that increased fitness reduces absenteeism and increases productivity. “Our lunch hour is only 30 minutes,” says George, “but we have a policy that we can take an hour for exercise if we make it up.”
  2. Try it for just one day a week. This will let you practice and get the bugs out without losing big chunks of time over the course of a week. Once perfected, shoot for 2-3 times a week. Coupled with longer weekend rides, you’ll get plenty fit for fast cycling.
  3. Practice clothing transitions. This is where major time can be wasted. Think of your lunch hour as a triathlon with a bike ride in the middle and a clothes transition at either end. Practice. And think about your ‘do. Short hair (for men and women) can be quickly toweled dry and combed. Primping elaborate coifs can lessen your valuable workout time by 10 minutes or more.
  4. Refuel. Lunch workouts can deplete your energy stores and leave you drained for afternoon work and evening activities. To stay alert (and employed):

Eat a good breakfast. Noon rides are fueled by the food you ate at breakfast. Try oatmeal, skim milk and a banana, along with a bagel or whole wheat toast.

Stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle at your desk and sip all day.

Plan a 2-part lunch. At your morning break munch an energy bar, bagel, or jam sandwich on whole wheat bread. Fruit is good, too. Try apples, bananas, or melon. In the afternoon, chase the workout with a carbo replacement drink and a turkey sandwich on whole wheat.

Upgrade your mountain bike cables

Four strands of wire, the largest barely 2 mm thick, determine how your bike brakes and shifts. Sever just one and you’re in trouble, with only half a transmission or safety system. Because every ride you take subjects these cables to moisture and dirt, it’s best to lube them about every 6 weeks and replace them yearly.

Things are changing though. Two companies have introduced “super” cables that last at least twice as long as stock wires, without maintenance. They fit both road and mountain bikes but are best suited for off-road use, where cables take a beating.

Gore-Tex coated “Ride-On” cables are outrageously expensive at $45 per set of brake or shift cables (with housings) and $55 for tandem ones (800/488-5544). Even so, many mountain bikers are switching to this sealed system (the cables run inside a piece of plastic tubing) to dramatically reduce cable friction and improve shifts and stops. RideOns are especially effective with Grip Shift shifters.

The Talon “Slick Whip” is less pricey but still effective – and easier to install. (Price: $7 for standard diameter road and mountain cables, $9 for oversize mountain bike brake cables, and $11 for tandem cables; 602/898-3772, AZ). It’s a Teflon-coated replacement inner cable that works with your housing.

Here’s how to install the RideOn or Slick Whip cables on a mountain bike.

TOOLS AND SUPPLIES

  • repair stand
  • diagonal cutters
  • cable ends
  • replacement cables with housing
  • cable cutter
  • pliers
  • single-edge razor blade or sharp knife
  • 8- and 9-mm combination wrenches
  • 3-, 4-, and 5-mm allen wrenches
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • file
  • awl or nail
  • oil and grease
  • electric drill and bits

The true cost of driving

What is it about traffic these days? Maybe it’s the growing number of drivers who cut me off or flash the finger as I pedal along minding the law and my own business. Maybe it’s the exhaust fumes that hover over our office in Soquel, California, hard by car-clogged Highway 1. Maybe it’s the noisy, expensive, never-ending construction project to widen the traffic-choked street leading to my workplace. And it’s all due to one thing: overuse of the motor vehicle.

Don’t get me wrong. I own a car, and have since I was in college. My current vehicle comes in real handy sometimes – quite a few times actually. Hell, you could even say my salary comes from the car industry, considering the number of automotive ads in this magazine.

No, I don’t want to get rid of cars, even if that were remotely possible in this country. We need cars. I’d just like to see ’em, well, somehow pay their fair share.

Enter Charles Komanoff. He’s an energy consultant formerly with Transportation Alternatives, a bike-advocacy group in New York City. I met him last fall in Portland, Oregon, at Pro Bike/Pro Walk ’94, a big advocacy conference sponsored by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation of America.

Pro Bike’s not exactly an MTV block party. Picture land-use planners and transportation officials attending workshops with such titles as “Multi-Modal Connections: Bicycles and Transit” and “Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crash Types in the 1990s: New Thoughts on the Cross and Snyder/Knoblauch Studies and Ways to Use Data in Your Community.” Sexy, no. Crucial (and difficult and thankless), yes.

Still, after 2 1/2 days of absorbing alternative-transportation-speak, I was drunk on ISTEA, maxed out on CMAQs, dotty on DOTs, and ODed on MPOs. That’s when I glanced at the agenda and noticed a workshop called “Charging Motorists the True Cost of Driving.” Speaker: Charles Komanoff.

As Komanoff stood next to an overhead projector displaying long columns of numbers, I thought, “Uh-oh, here we go again.” But his message is distinctly different. Komanoff advocates a concept called “roadway pricing,” which he contends is gaining currency among economists, planners, and activists. He defines it as “charging for use of roads and the associated pollution and congestion.”

In 1990, Komanoff estimates, U.S. roadway transportation costs amounted to $726 billion. This includes the price of accidents ($319 billion), congestion ($168 billion), air pollution ($66 billion), land use ($65 billion), energy ($60 billion), noise pollution ($28 billion), and tax subsidies for driving ($20 billion).

Admittedly those are big numbers, and subject to debate. But of the $726 billion, Komanoff estimates that only $418 billion is actually borne by drivers. The remainder, he says, is “ripe for user fees.” These could include smog fees (tracked by a car-mounted microchip that measures tailpipe emissions), congestion pricing (based on data from vehicle ID codes registered by roadway sensors or toll-booth responders), a tax tied to vehicle weight/distance traveled, a gas tax, and various fines and fees.

“The solution is not to ban the automobile,” he explains, but to charge the full cost of its impact.

What’s more, he adds in a paper on the topic, “roadway pricing has vast implications for bicycling. To begin, cities and towns would become more inviting places to bike, with cleaner air, less trafficked streets and saner driving. Not only that, cycling would make people wealthier. To the extent that cycling is substituted for driving, each mile biked would mean zero smog fees, zero weight-distance taxes, etc…. Roadway pricing is no mere nibbling at the edges – it’s a central strategy for expanding bicycle use.”

Listening to Komanoff talk, I was alternately enthralled and appalled. More bikes, less pollution and congestion, livable communities…yes! But the plan also smacks of Big Brother: social engineering, more taxes, and greater regulation. Not to mention Komanoff’s questionable numbers and the still unobtainable technology.

Yet it grows on me. Most of the money raised by the plan, Komanoff suggests, could be rebated to the public to spend as they desire (with a fraction set aside to fund mass transit and bike/ped facilities).

Pie in the sky? Maybe. But it could make the skies a little clearer, too.