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The cycling community, especially in California, Nevada, and Oregon, has taken a hard hit as Andy #Sramdy Jones was let go from Sram. Andy’s position, along with close to 40 others, was dissolved as Sram made some tough strategic decisions. (more info at http://www.bicyclingtrade.com.au/news/world/sram-to-cut-40-staff) I am not criticizing Sram. I am making an effort to point out the importance of Andy’s position which has included providing neutral race support for races all over the west coast. His efforts to assist racers has enabled not only pros, but beginners, and everyone in between, regardless of skill or mechanical understanding. His impact has deeply affected hundreds of riders and racers growing a large following and loyalty to Sram and to Andy, who, to many, is Sram.

Andy “ #Sramdy ” Jones, has been the Sram demo fleet "MTB Ride Experience" driver turned “Rogue race supporter.” He has been at every single California Race I can think of for the last few seasons, including all of the California Enduro Series, Nationals, Kamikaze Games, Sea Otter, etc. He has been the face of Sram as far as many are concerned, and he is incredible. I personally owe several races to Andy, as he has made last minute fixes for me that I would not have been able to race without. Hundreds of racers have relied on him and appreciate everything he does. So why is he gone?

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photo by Scott McClain Called to Creation

I wrote this article not just for Andy, but for Sram, our races, riders, our community, and to show how important communication can be, even if it is rooted in disagreement. I expressed my concern through a short post on my personal Facebook page and Instagram @Ashton_MTB. The demand for Andy’s return began to spread like wildfire, inducing passionate testimonials and fueling my dedication to fixing what I believe was a mistake.

As athletes, enthusiast, builders, and riders, our voices are essential to industry success. May it be our conversations on the trails, in forums, blogs, or podcasts, voting with our dollar, working in the industry, or anything really… our voices count. Sometimes what may seem like the loudest voices, such as top level sponsored athletes, are also the most muffled voices, as their words are often perceived with assumptions. I am by no means one of those top athletes. Still, I can’t tell you how many times I have shared my enthusiasm for a product and heard “well, they sponsor you, so you have to say that.” This may be a result of athletes doing exactly that, hyping up products shamelessly and without the integrity to disclose their bias, but let’s save that for the next article. What needs to be addressed here is the importance of speaking against your sponsors. Insane? No. If you really care about the companies you ride for, you must know when and how to speak up.

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Typical Andy with a big smile on his face.

I have no voice greater or more important than anyone else who shares a passion for cycling. A racer of 8 years, I co-manage Trail Head Racing out of Trail Head Cyclery in San Jose, CA. The team’s affiliation with one of the top shops in the country has acquired support from numerous sponsors, more than we could ever ask for. I push the team to be active in social media, video edits, trail building, shop events, outreach, race advocacy, and trail use rights, and everything else that grows the sport and culture that we love. All of these things are positive and are appreciated by our sponsors. The question that still comes up is “What else can I do and how can I really make an impact on cycling, my sponsors, myself, and my team?”

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THR runs Sram with confidence knowing they have support from Sram through people like Andy Jones

If you care, if you really, really, care about your sponsors, should you speak up when you think they have made a mistake? The answer is unequivocally “yes.” Voicing these opinions honestly and professionally is in the best interest of you, your sponsors, your fellow riders, and the sport. I have seen changes in products that have resulted from this invaluable honest user feedback. Whether my influence on these changes is tiny or huge, I am proud to contribute and I feel that I have done my job by making an impact. Sure, one opinion might not fit everyone and it is important to talk to people and present feedback from others, along with your own, whether they match your opinion or not. What is important is that my intentions are clear, I have good values, and that I evaluate each situation honestly and critically with the goal of benefitting cycling as a whole. There is always the chance that I may be wrong, but I would rather spark a conversation and challenge my own opinion than assume that I am correct.

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Sramdy Sram

I am by no means a factory racer for Sram. My team, however, has received extraordinary support from them. I love Sram. I love the products, the people, the athletes, and the engagement within the community and the industry. I made the switch while racing several years ago. I smashed my derailleur while attempting to pre-ride a racecourse. I sulked shamefully towards my hotel knowing that $12.63 in loose change was all I had left for the trip and that most of it was scattered along the mountain with derailleur parts and flesh. I knew it would not be enough to buy new parts for my bike. “You gonna race on that?” I heard someone say. I had no idea who this guy was, cracking a smile from within the Sram setup. To make a long story short, he set me up with a Sram derailleur, and I haven’t stopped racing or running Sram components ever since. Of course I have tried other components, always seeking to challenge my bias for Sram, but I always go back to Sram.

"Andy is one of the few individuals that I have known the last decade in the cycling industry who truly cares about the people, products and company he is serving. I have run SRAM components on my bike knowing that Andy would have my back at a race, through a phone call, or in passing between the crazy event schedules we both lead. Andy lights up when he helps people. He has incredible work ethic. He knows how to work with the female customer, providing education, insight, and motivation. Andy will no doubt be successful in whatever role he finds himself in next. I feel lucky to call #SRAMdy a friend, an advisor, and mentor. #IswitchedforSRAMDY"

-Sarah Rawley, VIDA Race Series

THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON SRAM. This is an attempt at fulfilling what I believe is my duty as a cyclist, and lover of our community, and a passionate racer. While sitting in the pits at the last California Enduro Series, I took out my phone in preparation to write an email to Sram to discuss the idea of becoming an ambassador for the new Eagle drivetrain. I am really excited about Eagle and know that it is an incredible solution not only for racers but casual riders as well. With my marketing and product design background I constantly analyze my impact on the sport. My greatest struggle with cycling is that it is so difficult to track the impression that I make by my efforts. It seems that this would be easy in sales, but it is not. Athletes are business investments for manufacturers and advertisers and tracking the return on that investment (ROI) is one of the keys to being a sponsored athlete. I thought that pitching the idea of being an ambassador for a specific product could be easier to track, and make me a more effective asset. If one athlete representing one product is a challenge, then I cannot even begin to fathom the complexities of tracking ROI for a company as large as Sram with thousands of products, employees, programs, projects, athletes, etc.

"As the race team manager for The Path Bike Shop I found it invaluable to have the support of #Sramdy at the CES races the past few years. He is the main reason why we went with SRAM/RockShox. I know of several team racers who wouldn't have been able to race or finish a race if it wasn't for Andy. "

-Lou Mollineda, The Path Bike Shop Team Manager

I wasn’t two words into writing my email to Sram when I heard “What do you mean Andy is gone?” I looked around, panicked. Gone? I went over to Dan Horndasch, Sram’s Northern California Tech Rep to ask what happened to Andy. Dan was doing his best to fill the void of Andy’s absence. He was furiously tearing apart his own personal bikes and rummaging through his unmarked sprinter van. “Where is Andy?” I asked. “His position was cut” he responded, while rifling through a box of parts. Dan kept his cool, just minutes before the race start, as he bled a racers brakes. He explained to me that he had a minimal supply of parts and was doing everything he could to keep racers going that day. I felt like we had lost a family member. I never did finish that email to Sram. I found this issue of Sram letting go of one of their key assets, the “frontlines face of Sram,” to be much more important.

"In total honesty, Andy has done for the mtb race community what most race support operations aspire to do - build a community, trust, product support and technical assistance for riders ranging from 1st year racers to pro's. I spent a ton of time at the tent (primarily to watch and learn some wrench skills) and can attest to seeing SRAMDY work into the night with headlamps on three occasions, through lunch breaks and under the gun where there was an obvious product failure and the competitor would not be able to continue without assistance. As a racer who pays and commits a lot to these racing, product support at the venue is truly invaluable and has led me to purchase SRAM components for my race bike - simply because I know, if there is any issue out on the road - there is someone who can provide assistance in whatever form is necessary (a wrench, pump, tools, seatpost bleed, a blown shock etc.) The CA racing community has been truly grateful (myself included) for SRAMS commitment to both it's innovation and product support. I hope that we will see Andy back ! For the sponsored riders and guys with experience (minority of riders) this shift isn't a huge deal, but folks paying out of their pocket to pursue a racing series - any bit of support, guidance, or a good laugh is truly invaluable while out on the road! Many thanks to Andy and SRAM for a fantastic 2015 season."

-Kirk Post, Racer

I have no idea what it costs to keep Andy Jones around. A decked out sprinter, his pay, bike parts for racers day after day, gas, and I’m sure much more, must be expensive. How can the cost be justified? While a sales team has employees dedicated to nothing other than tracking their ROIs, Andy’s ROI must be near impossible to track. He has never collected a cent. Andy makes it clear that he does not want to take away sales from any local bike shop. Instead, he accepts donations for the World Bicycle Relief Fund. With no direct sales and only Andy advocating for himself, I understand how he was put on the chopping block. Many of us know, however, that his value is tremendous and his position is crucial to racers and the Sram image. This is where I want to make an impact. If you know Andy, you know the value he brings to Sram. A friendly face, an endless source of information, a talented wrench, and more. Andy is the reason many of us ride Sram products today. Time and time again I have seen racers show up the morning of an event, arms full of new Sram parts, scrambling to put them on with Andy’s assistance. They switched to Sram because of him. Maybe they broke a component and he encouraged them to go to the local shop, maybe they went to the other guys the day before and received no help, or maybe they were convinced by his enthusiasm and shared knowledge and made the switch, or maybe they felt confident that they would have a successful season with someone like Andy there for them. Regardless of the reason, they “Switched for #Sramdy.”

"#Sramdy is the most knowledgeable and supportive person I have met in the Mountain Bike circuits. He had a big impact in our bike components purchase decision as we knew he would be there to support, and he was also able to explain very well the technology and capabilities of the SRAM products we were using. Always ready to help, working long hours, always smiling, he truly put mountain bike support to a whole new level, letting in the dust any other sponsors out there at the races! Without him, my son Paul Serra would have probably not won the CES championship last year. Thanks again for everything you have done for all of us #Sramdy!"

-Didier Serra, Bike Enthusiast, Awesome Mom.

This is my attempt to stop a company that I care about from making a mistake, to make sure that the races that I love have the necessary support, that my competition has the chance to make me work harder for the podium, for the sport to grow, and for my cycling family and culture to continue being the amazing thing that I have loved for so long. This is Andy’s ROI. This is making the unquantifiable quantifiable. It is not components that make a company, it is their involvement, instilling confidence in their products use, and face time with us that makes them great. I love Sram and I cannot sit here and do nothing while they let an irreplaceable asset like Andy Jones go. This is for me, this is for you, this is for Sram.

I gave Andy a phone call before publishing this article to make sure he was okay with it.

"Im touched. I really didn't think anyone would ever do anything like this for me. Then again, the racers are my family and that's what family does."..."I love being a part of the races and the culture. I miss the people, helping out, and getting people stoked on Sram."

-Andy "Sramdy" Jones

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If you have made the switch to Sram because of Andy #Sramdy Jones please share your experience and tag #Sramdy. Let's bring Andy, or at least his position at Sram, back to the races.

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