Sunday, April 27, 2008

There's a new sheriff in town...

This was pretty cool news. Campagnolo recently hired my old friend, Tom Kattus, as their new North American general manager. Pretty sweet! Tom, John and I used to ride road early in the mornings when we all lived in the Carlsbad area. Meet at 7:00 and ride for a couple of hours down the coast. Tom was the guy who still rode on Vittoria CX tires when all of us were riding clinchers. I don't remember him having to stop to replace a tire due to a flat, though. We (John and I) did get a kick out of faking a flat when riding with him. A subtle "pssst, pssst, pssst" mimicking the sound of air escaping from those spendy tubulars would send Tom's head spinning as he looked around to try to hear confirmation of his "flat."

Tom was a big-time bike geek. While he was working in real estate, he developed a nifty bike add-on called the Break-Away bar. During an era in the bike biz, this was a pretty cool device. It was simply a tube about the same diameter of a road bar that had two hinged clamps on either end that clamped on the the dropped section of a bar allowing the rider to get in a more aero tuck with your hands on the Break-Away bar close together and low. One of the hinged clamps, if I recall correctly, was adjustable in and out allowing use on different width bars.

Tom made prototypes for his friends and we all rode them. Tom went into production and started peddling them around to bike shops. I think I even remember seeing pictures of some Coors Light riders using them. As Tom started selling the bars, he soon got more lines of bikes and parts to carry making the transformation from real estate to bike rep. Then pretty soon, I got a job at Haro, he got a job at Cannondale and we were separated by a continent. A few years ago, he came back to San Diego and moved into a house that was almost a stone's throw away. Our kids went to the same school. And now, it's big-time - General Manager of Campagnolo North America.

However, there is one quote of his in that Bicycle Retailer report that I might take issue with him on: "I have been an avid cyclist for 25 years and have always used Campagnolo components." I seem to recall him running Dura Ace bits. But that's excusable because it was during the Syncro era of Campy.

Congratulations, Tom!

(I knew I had a photo of the Break-Away bar in use. Bicycle Guide October 1991 - cover shot of Alexi Grewal with a Profile clip-on attached to the BAB and a review of it inside).

(What's playing: Juno. And yes, the pun was intended - if you catch it, let me know.)

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