BY LOREN MASON-GERE
When I walked out of the shop, I wasn't pushing the bike I went there to buy - and I couldn't have been happier.
When I showed up at the bike shop the day of that purchase, buying a road bike had never crossed my mind. I knew what I wanted to do, but had no idea which bike would help me do it.
Had they sold me what I asked for, my life would have taken a different path. Luckily, the staff took the time to ask questions and educate me. Thanks to them, I made a purchase that would lead me from mild enthusiasm to a life-changing passion. I am forever indebted to that shop for their service.
In today's world of Internet discounts and chain blow-out stores, this memory reminds me of the essential role local shops play in our communities - and why Hammer structures our policies to support local shops.
While the lure of cheap goods and fast shipping is strong, those options inherently eliminate the human interactions that allow our sports to flourish. Looking back it's clear: Any blowout site would have sold me the bike I "wanted," but none could have shown me what that truly was. As my riding developed, my rides got longer but met a sharp ceiling. Sugary "energy foods" upset my stomach, and efforts over three hours left me light-headed and weak. With my heavy legs barely turning the pedals I would slog home to spend the rest of the day recovering. Accepting the fact that long rides were not for me, my life as a rider stagnated.
The path toward proper nutrition
Things changed when a friend challenged me to participate in a local 50 mile mountain bike race. I was woefully unprepared, and suffered accordingly. With cramped hamstrings and my knees caked with blood, I pushed my bike up a hill into an aid station. Someone handed me a cup of HEED and it changed my life. Coming back from the dead I pressed on to cross the finish line exhausted and satisfied - a champion of my own race.
In retrospect it's a wonder that I was so blind to basic physiological needs. The fact is, I needed education, and no one was there to provide it.
Though my shop taught me everything about my bike, the lessons stopped there. Had someone taken the time to teach me how to care for my body as well, I would have experienced greater success and satisfaction. My investment in the sport and that shop would have increased accordingly.
Fueling right, finding success
Shortly after that race I moved away. I found a new favorite shop, and this one sold Hammer Nutrition. When they explained the difference between simple sugars and Hammer's complex carbs, my previous fueling debacles made perfect sense.
Hammer's 5 Secret's of Success book helped me identify an entire fueling system and put it to work. I consistently used the same trustworthy fuels day in and day out and saw my performance reach new heights. By helping me fuel right, Hammer earned more than my repeated nutrition buys and subsequent bike purchases - it earned my loyalty and trust.
When I started working in a bike shop myself, my favorite part was helping the "newbies." I loved watching their evolution. The pounds came off, the enthusiasm soared, and their zest for life and passion for the sport grew. In addition to discussing proper equipment and fit, I always discussed fueling. When it came to selecting a brand, the decision was easy. Beyond my personal experience with the products, I knew Hammer Nutrition monitored and patrolled its Manufacturer's Advertised Price (MAP) policy.
While the local supermarket sold the competitors' bars for less than I could buy them, I was guaranteed to earn a profit on Hammer. Furthermore, the 100% customer satisfaction guarantee made it easy for me to sell. If customers didn't like something, they simply brought it back.
Hammer made it easy to stock and sell nutrition, and selling nutrition built us loyal customers. They advanced quickly, and returned often.
If I didn't have Hammer to sell, I would have given the stuff away - and it would have been a wise investment. As new customers experienced success, they became loyal fans and friends whom no Internet discounter could touch. Our shop rides grew. New riders learned from the veterans of the sport. The community flourished.
Support your shop, it will support you
For these scenarios to play out, athletes have to support local businesses. But shops also have to do their part. New converts drift away if they are not educated and supported. Gear selection alone is an incomplete measure - they must learn how to properly fuel.
Remove nutritional barriers to success, and involvement deepens. The result is increased store visits, additional investment, and strengthened relationships. Relationships keep customers off the Internet and in our local shops - local shops that we all need. When done right, selling nutrition is not just good will - it's good business.
Doing nutrition right means selling high quality, healthy fuels athletes can rely on. Too many shops clutter their shelves with new brands that are repackaging the same sugar-laden products.
Over the past 30 years these companies have come and gone while Hammer has stayed true to its mission. We support athletic performance with natural, complex carbohydrate-based fuels. Our products support healthy individuals, while our policies support healthy businesses, as we know our sports - and our country - demand both.
At the end of the day, the relationship between shops and individuals matters. We must support our shops, and shops must raise new riders. Doing so demands properly addressing the role of nutrition.