It’s a sunny Friday morning and I’m on my way to join the first meeting of MODO ambassadors at the home of Superior Bikes, BIKE FUN International, in Kopřivnice, Czech Republic.
Thanks to my travelling companion, Ema – manager of the BB Cyklosport shop in Brno – I now have a better grasp of different bicycle models and their components than most bike nerds. In-car entertainment is also provided by the confused satnav, which, rather than directing us to Kopřivnice, wants to take us on a tour of the surrounding countryside. We’re in the foothills of the Beskid Mountains and the terrain is looking very enticing, but today we’ve got something even better ahead of us.
Having arrived at the Tatra factory complex, where BIKE FUN International is based, the process of getting inside feels like going through airport security. But eventually we manage it. With the correct authorization papers in our hands, we drive across the complex until we spot a brick building up ahead of us: BIKE FUN International. There can’t be too many people who know that this is the place where hundreds of thousands of bicycles are made every year. Certainly I had no idea. I’m one of the first to arrive, so I have a quick look around the room at the many bikes on display, but above all at the enormous frgál fruit tart decorated with the word MODO, which, after the long journey, gets my mouth watering.
This is the first time I’ve met the other MODO ambassadors. Finally we can get to know each other. There are six of us in all, from different cities, of different ages, with different lives and interests, but all united by cycling and by the MODO project. During the presentations on using social media and on the in-store MODO project, I notice a few times that I’m actually concentrating less on the content and more on trying to look vaguely normal. That’s because there are so many cameras clicking all around us that we might as well be preparing for a night at the Oscars.
This building definitely has a unique charm. It’s a mixture of industrial style and various other things: old bikes, designs for next season’s models, and the people responsible for it all. In here you can probably even smell the new ideas floating in the air. The tour of the factory proper is a memorable experience. There are hundreds of people working here, and it’s incredible to see just how much time and effort goes into making our favourite two-wheeled friends. We get the chance to try our hand at various parts of the process, including shortening cables and chains, fitting tyres, and preassembling handlebars. It’s all great fun, but I just hope the nice people at the factory won’t have to spend too long repairing the damage we leave behind.
After finishing the tour, all that’s left is for us ambassadors to take part in a photo shoot. Just the very thought of it brings me out in a cold sweat, and I’m not the only one. But we put it down to experience and next time we’ll be able to give a professional performance. And we can even crack jokes and smile from ear to ear while holding bikes above our heads.
It’s been a fun day. Our get-together comes to an end, and so, feeling happy and full of inspiration, we all set off for home.
Well, actually, not yet. Before we can get out of the complex, we’ve first got to remember where we put those authorization papers J.