TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN)—Specialized Bicycles has a secret ambassador stashed in Asia. They call him “Bob-boo” or “Big Ring Bob” and he’s treated more like family than a customer.
Bob Margevicius, a vice-president at Specialized who currently resides in New Zealand, was the only representative from an American company to join the A-Team on its 11-day Tour de Taiwan. And he didn’t disappoint the 32 A-Team members. As he told them, “It’s an honor to be on this ride with you.”
Whether helping some properly adjust their seat height, pointing out proper pedaling technique, helping push others uphill or challenging others to an off-the-route race, Margevicius earned a standing ovation when he told the group how much it meant to him to be on the tour. Tony Lo, Giant’s president and A-Team chairman, translated for him.
He made his comments Wednesday at a reception where the local press, company employees and family had gathered to welcome the riders back to this nation’s capitol city after completing a 1,000 kilometer circuit of Taiwan.
While Margevicius has had business dealings with many of the participants, there was surprisingly little business discussed given the long hours they spent together. The ride was more about friendship and loyalty than business, he explained.
Margevicius has been coming to Taiwan for 30 years and over that time has come to know most of the key manufacturing excutives in the country. He knows their families and their family histories. One day, while cycling between Hsinchu and Taichung, he recalled a trip he and Lo had taken many years ago to visit Giant’s factory.
“Tony was driving this old second-hand Cadillac and it broke down. Here we are, working in the bicycle industry, and we had to hitchhike until someone, I think it was a fisherman or something, gave us a ride and we had sit in the back of this old truck,” he recalled. For Margevicius, who loves the challenge of negotiating over almost anything, Taiwan is like a second home.
At dinner, riders would sit eight to a table, and Margevicius would visit each table and go through a rousing round of toasts. However, as he thanked the members for inviting him to join the ride, he praised their determination and will for completing the adventure.
Despite his years visiting here, he speaks almost no Taiwanese nor had he seen much of the island outside of Taipei, Taichung and Tainan. Stella Yu, who owns Velo, a saddlemaker, calls him a dear friend and thanked him dozens of times for helping her finish the ride. Yu was the only woman to complete the full length of the trip.
PHOTO by Marc Sani: Will the real Bob Margevicius please stand up? (The real Bob is on the left.)