ST. GEORGE, UT (BRAIN) — Executives from 16 Taiwanese companies expect to finish their Tour of Utah Tuesday when they arrive at Interbike’s Outdoor Demo in Bootleg Canyon.
The group planned to leave their hotel in St. George near the Nevada state line in a bus to start a 34-mile ride from the outskirts of North Las Vegas to Outdoor Demo. Their arrival will end a seven-day bus and bicycle tour of some of Utah’s most scenic parks and resorts.
The riders—26 in all—have ridden more than 300 miles, mostly under cloudy and cool conditions, often ending in afternoon thunderstorms. Those storms forced Ogden, Utah’s mayor, Mike Caldwell, to get riders off their bikes and into support vehicles.
While Utah escaped the brunt of a vicious weather system that inundated parts of Colorado, that same system dumped unseasonably record rains in Utah making for treacherous descents through the Wasatch mountains. Thunderstorms, punctuated by heavy lightening, plagued the tour throughout the week.
Nonetheless, Caldwell said he had hopes that the $75,000 investment in bringing the executives to Utah would pay off. “Once this is over and we’re back in the office, we will assess how things went,” he said. Despite the weather, there were no complaints from the riders.
Kevict Yen, who helped arrange the tour, ruled out the possibility of a company setting up a manufacturing facility either in Utah or elsewhere. But many are interested in a U.S. base to bolster their branding and marketing clout in the American market.
Yen, a Chinese-American, worked in Taiwan for RockShox before it was bought by SRAM and then helped SRAM set up its manufacturing facility in Taichung before leaving the company. He now owns ID Art Agency in Redwood City, California, and represents a number of key Taiwanese accounts.
As for the riders, Victor Lin, owner of VP Components, spoke for many when he declared the ride an adventure of a lifetime. Lin, a strong and aggressive rider, consistently finished in the lead group.
Louis Chuang, Topeak’s vice president, said Saturday’s ride to Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah, was the trip’s highlight. “It is so beautiful,” he said, while gazing outward from the park’s rim set at an elevation of 9,000 feet.
Similar comments were made throughout the tour, but most had little to say about any future prospects for establishing offices in the in Ogden or the U.S.
Steve Fishburn, Ogden’s business development manager, is credited with coming up with the idea of inviting key Taiwan executives to visit Utah. Fishburn and the mayor attended last March’s Taipei Cycle show and visited a number of companies. “They treated us so well; they were so gracious,” Fishburn said. “We felt we needed to do something to show our appreciation,” he added.
Besides financial and staff support from city, county and state government, Zions Bank, Ogden’s fledgling bicycle community also pitched in. Lance Larabee, who manages TRP/Tektro’s office in Ogden, provided a Sprinter van and trailer to haul bicycles and gear; Volagi, a small northern California company, which is in the midst of moving its operations to Ogden, supplied more than a dozen road bikes equipped with disc brakes for the riders. And QBP, with a distribution center in Ogden, assigned Alex Daniels to help handle bike setup and repairs.