The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts. - Bertrand Russell
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. - Ecclesiastes 9:11
I've always wanted to work that Bertrand Russell quote into a post, but I'm going to invert the order above. My race this weekend proved Ecclesiastes was only right sometimes, if at all. With a solid 19 month gap to me last road race (lots of cx and a couple mtb races in that time), there was no hope for me but to follow wheels and sing BeeGees songs (staying alive, staying alive...), but one took off early and left us all for dead. The race went to the swift, the battle to the strong.
The most interesting dynamic to me was that we'd built about 10% of the wheels in my field. Of course this was a race in our backyard, and that particular field was an anomaly - we had one or two in each of the other fields, at best - but it was still cool. Only very slightly less interesting was the proliferation of wheels by "not the usual suspects." This race did not mirror a world tour race, with dominant blocks of wheels from only the most globally prominent brands. It was everything from a team that clearly bought a pile of rims and other parts somewhere and had them built and put their team name on them to the biggest brands, but the ratios and representations were way out of kilter from even one season ago.
Which brings me to the Bertrand Russell quote: I have absolutely no idea where the market is headed. Every growth metric that we could use points up, but whether we are just in a temporary window where us doing what we're doing strikes a chord, we have no idea. The bike industry as a whole is SO rife with changes; ones that people have recognized and acted on, and even more so ones where unwelcome and disruptive (to some) change will eventually come flying through the wall like the big red pitcher in a Kool-Aid ad. About what the future of supplying bike stuff to riders looks like, we could hardly be less certain.
We're fortunate to be very adaptable, and unburdened by entrenched infrastructure. We can zig and zag as needed. We're also fortunate to have reached a point where we have some modicum of self-determination about what we do. We've developed operational and organizational strengths that give us a confident voice in how we do what we do. But the shape of the overall landscape in which we'll be doing what we do has never seemed more in flux than it is right now.
We've also reached a point where a long awaited shipment of rims has arrived, so it's all hands on deck to go get those built and shipped.