Our Asset, Our Talent
Photo credit: Randhy Rodriguez
In late August this year, 2018, Giro RPC Radio had their second running of their stage race in Panama. The race format is exclusively for Master racers and women. Racers spent 4 days, in 5 stages, racing across Panama. Majority of the riders came from the Latin America region but there were also some ex-Euro pros as well. One of our notable NYC racers, Jose Guzman, spent 4 days racing there. He thought the racing was shockingly difficult. He recalled hanging onto his dear life at the back of a leadout train, for over 10 miles, going around 35+ mph. In one of the race days, the riders have to race twice, road race in the morning and a criterium in the evening. Often times, they have to wake up at 4 am in the morning in order to travel to the next city for the next stage because of the logistic reason. This was the second year Montecci was sponsoring the stage race. Its brand presence was widely felt from the rider and leader jerseys to the race operation logistics. Its bikes were widely showcased and ridden by various domestic and international professional teams.
Henry was at the pre-race conference at the Giro RPC Radio 2018.
Post race conference at the Giro RPC Radio 2018.
Team Montecci was well represented in the Giro RPC Radio 2018.
Montecci is planning to expand its brand presence to Uruguay and Argentina in the future. In the past, Montecci has success in Vuelta am Tachira and Vuelta a Venezuela as well. Couple of the local teams are currently racing with Montecci bikes too, such as the Butcherboys of MA and Blue Ribbons of New York City. Outside of United States, there are the EDA Contractor Team, ACTof Dom Rep, JB of Colombia , RPC Radio of Panama, and the National team of Venezuela. Who is the man behind Montecci??
Henry Francisco is the founder of Montecci. I know Henry way back when I started to photographing NYC bike races back in 2011. I don’t remember how I got to know him but I remember knowing him. I even bought his 2011 model Montecci. My first ever fully carbon frame. By that time, I have already retired from racing and so I didn’t keep up with what was new and hot and trendy. For Henry, the first half of his life was never about the bike at all.
My own 2011 Montecci.
He came from Villa Joana in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He was raised by his single mother, and with his sibling. He spent 7 years working as a freelancer cameraman for various major companies. He felt in love with the bike growing up, like most of us. However, it wasn’t something he wanted to make a career with until much later in his life living in NYC.
He came to NYC in 1993 but a career in the bike industry wasn’t on his mind. He worked as sale representatives for various companies until the late 90s. He took a vacation in Montecchio, Grosseto in Siena, one of the regions in Tuscany. When he came back from Italy, he felt somewhat lost but inspired to create his own brand…his own bike design. Montecci was born, and named after the Italian town he vacationed in.
At first, few of his friends didn’t take his brand and his business ideas seriously. However, when his close friend Jorge Cordero paid for his first frame, Henry knew he has no choice but to continue to grow his brand. His friends, Leo and Melito, from Innovation Bikes, encouraged and supported his ideas from the beginning as well. He has been working to promote and expand his brand for the past 9 years. He has a good network of friends and business partners in Columbia and Venezuela. As a result, he was able to expand his brand in South America. His friends, Jose and Hernan Santiago from Puerto Rico, managed to get in contact with the vice president of RPC Radio in 2017. Later on, Montecci became one of the major sponsors for the Giro RPC Radio in 2017 and this year too, 2018.
Although Montecci is slowly expanding its brand presence in South America and elsewhere, Henry felt that the NYC racing scene and community have not been too receptive. I always felt that we are living in a cocoon and with the mentality to resist change, for the past 10 + years. I even mentioned this in my previous blog segments. I am not surprised that Henry finds it difficult to expand his brand in the NYC racing community. He tried in the past during 2011 to 2013. He even sponsored prizes for some of the race series. Yet, for the past 4 years or so, his brand seems to lack the necessary exposure and recognition from the local race sponsors and promoters. How many today’s NYC racers would know who is Montecci and who owns the brand? Not a lot I bet. Yet, Henry has no problems to expand and promote his brand in South America in some of the more elite races. Somehow, as a New Yorker and a long time NYC racing local icon, Henry and his brand have little or no exposure in our local park series and FBF races. I am pretty sure there are legitimate reasons for this. One of the greatest assets we have in the NYC racing community is having individuals who have been around in seeing how the NYC racing scene has been changing and growing. I and Henry share the same view that we are stuck currently and in a state of stagnation. You can read all about it from my previous blogs here and here.
I asked Henry what he thinks about HH Racing and its Thursday FBF Race Series. He believes that we are the game changer because we, in the HH Racing, strife for change and innovation. We don’t do it for the sake of being different. We do it because we have a grander vision. We believe that our NYC racing culture and its race series can be improved, instead of the usual. We believe in growth and passion, not just to get by “another year” because of some “cultural and contractual obligation" or "business as usual."
When I asked Henry if he sees himself being a sponsor for our series in the future, he is open to the idea. If it does happen, I am looking forward to work with Henry. Nowadays, Henry is busy promoting his brand and hasn't raced much lately. However, I do catch him racing once in a while though.
Henry racing in one of the CRCA open races in Central Park.
Henry racing in one of the Tuesday FBF Race Series.
Before I end the blog, I want to highlight that Henry has been allowing riders, mostly from Latin America, to live and stay in his house. He felt that he could help these riders to experience racing in America and in NYC. Also a good way for them to learn English and to learn about America. He has been a good host for the past 10 years. Also, if you have any spare or older gear, clothing, and cycling equipment laying around and you don't need or want, he is accepting donation and to ship them out to riders living in poorer countries.