Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Ted-terview": Carl Buchanan: Part Four

Okay folks, hold on for the last installment of the Carl Buchanan interview! Today, I discuss with Carl the importance of athlete responsibility in regards to sponsorship, the power of blogs, Tinker Juarez, and other tom foolery! It's a long post, so grab your favorite drink, get comfy, and read on!

G-Ted: Yeah, so talk a little bit about the sponsorship thing. I mean, as far as you view your duty as being a sponsored athlete.

Carl: Well, I'm still learning, in all honesty. You know, it's one of those things, that you be completely and totally true about the product when people ask, if they've got a question about it, and I'm not going to lie to them about it. ummm.....But, basically I need to go out and I need to push that product to it's limits, you know, and if I see a problem with it, or if I come across a problem, I need to notify my sponsor that, hey! This, you know... something is not quite right here, type thing. Or, in the same aspect, when I'm out there, I need to be as professional as possible, so that, you know..... I figure I'm a finger on Cannondale's hand right now, you know? So that, I mean that I'm representing them as a company. So people, some people are going to take that, you know that, you figure especially a beginner class, or Sport class racer, it's very impressionable, you know. You take a guy like Jeff, (Kerkove) especially, I mean, his words are golden, all right? People take it, that's all there is to it, so.... I....I need to have that same stature when I'm out at the race scene, or what have you.

G-Ted: You need to be approachable, you need to be.........

Carl: Right! Right! Anything anybody wants to talk to me about when they want to talk about Cannondale or Diadora. I feed them the truth and sit down and take the time to sit there and talk to them about it, you know?

G-Ted: Right, right....yeah, there's no time to be a primadonna and............

Carl: No, it's.... It pretty much makes you a sales person 24-7.

G-Ted: Yeah...right, right.

Carl: I actually- It's kinda funny, 'cause I've actually been approached at my other job at the YMCA about Cannondale product, because of people locally that read my blog. And it's... It's caught me off guard, honestly, but it's led to some interesting conversations.

G-Ted: Now, you mention your blog, and Jeff's got a blog, and of course, I do too, but how do you feel that fits in? That's something... That's something that's fairly new.So, how do you see that as fitting in as being a sponsored athlete, and the endurance racing?

Carl: The biggest thing not only do I maintain my blog; I try to do that everyday, I'm also a frequent poster on mtbr, ( Mountain Bike Review- a website. ed.) which, you're aware of. And there's actually a ton of cyclists and racers on there. And these guys come in and they visit your blogs, you know. I...I kinda have a resource that they don't. So if they've got questions about a certain bike, or how a bike is going to come equipped, and so on and so forth.... I've actually recieved those e-mails. And I wonder.... And they got all these questions concerning say, a Rush versus a Scalpel, you know, "what's the difference?" Which, by the way, was my post on my blog today!


G-Ted: So, would you say, would you agree that it's fair to say because of your blog, and the vibe and nature of blogs, It makes you more approachable in these instances where these people have questions about a companies product? They're more apt to come and ask you, as opposed to ask somebody in a bike shop, or e-mail Cannondale directly, or.....

Carl: Yep! I mean, I toatally agree with that. Because they know that with that blog, they can..... I know there's a couple different things here. They can hide behind the internet, and so that way... they're not.... If they feel that question is maybe not a smart question, you know, they don't want to be embarassed by a "dumb question", when they go into a shop. So, they can ask me that, and even if I do think that is a bad question, they have no idea, 'cause I'm still gonna give them a straight answer, and......

G-Ted: After you're done falling and rolling on the floor you get up and.....(Laughter)

Carl: I would.... I would never do that. But I've had the questions where even I haven't been able to answer the questions. So, I just... I'll e-mail my resources at Cannondale, get the facts, and then give them the answer, and then that way, they can see me as a valuable resource to them. So, they start, kind of asking a few more questions here and there, and then eventually you have that friendship built. Even though it's a cyber-friendship, it's still there.

G-Ted: So, going back to your metaphor as being a "finger of the company": Your blog is kinda out there touching people in the digital realm.

Carl: Exactly.

G-Ted: And that's a value to the company that you represent, like Cannondale, or Diadora.

Carl: Yep! You figure, Cannondale has their own blog on their website. You know, they have their loyal customers, they have people that are Cannondale die-hards. You figure, I'm new to Cannondale. This is my first Cannondale I've ever owned. This is the first time I've ever ridden one on a regular basis. To be honest with you, I'm completely stoked about it. I mean, it's just amazing, the bike it's self. And so, you figure they're putting... They're entrusting me: a brand new person that's never even been with their company before, to take their product and go out there and sell it to the guy that doesn't know, and..... I think that says alot about the company when it takes that risk, if you will, and they are..... I think especially coming from like Cannondale, understand the value of what a racer out there, you know.... Their words are taken to heart by many, many people.

G-Ted: I think it's interesting that you see yourself in that light, because the perception that alot of non-racers, non-sponsored people have is that racers only care about themselves....

Carl: Right...

G-Ted: And all they want to do is get something for free.

Carl: Right!

G-Ted: And I think it's important for alot of people to hear your message, because I know Jeff feels the same way about it as you do.

Carl: Number one rule, when you are seeking sponsorship is, "Never expect free stuff!"

G-Ted: Right!

Carl: As soon as you expect free stuff, you're done. You'll never get it, you know. That's the kind of stuff that comes to those athletes that have proven themselves, you know. Take Tinker Juarez, you know, the guy.....He's probably sold more Cannondales just riding around in circles than any other salesman in the country.

G-Ted: He rides a Cannondale?

Carl: Of course he.....

G-Ted: I thought he rode a Klien?

Carl: He rides a....

G-Ted: Sorry, I'm a retro kind of.....

Carl: He rides a Cannondale Rush Team Replica

editors note: We discussed the amazing career of Tinker Juarez for a couple minutes, then we ended the interview with this exchange.

G-Ted: ....Well, I don't know if I can think of anything else I want to talk about right now. You got anything you want to add as a closer?

Carl: End Lefty descrimination!

G-Ted: There is some?

Carl: I don't know what it is with you people that ride those weird, two legged forks, but....

G-Ted: Mine's rigid! (Laughter)

Carl: Two legs! Whaddya need two legs for? I can stand on one leg....hop around..... You don't need two legs!

G-Ted: I'd say I'd go along with the "End Lefty Descrimination" as long as they "End Big Wheel Descrimination"!

Carl: I can't comment!

G-Ted: Viva la Big Wheels!

Carl: I can't comment! No comment! This interview is over now!

There it is folks! Be sure to read the previous installments, and remember, all of this was done in one conversation! Thanks, and I hope you enjoyed that!

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