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Michal Berka: Bike is my whole life

7/7/2021 | Horsefeathers / Renata

Michal is our colleague and friend, who works in Horsefeathers as a Sales Manager, he is a passionate biker, snowboarder and sports commentator. We talked to him about how he got to Horsefeathers, where he worked before, and of course about his biggest hobby - biking. Michal had the opportunity to try our new Bike Apparel among the first and in the following interview you will also learn how he would evaluate it and which pieces are his favorites.

Michal Berka

Michal, you work at Horsefeaters as a Sales Manager, can you tell us what you're in charge of? What does this position entail?

I am in charge of a complete wholesale network. I communicate directly with customers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and I am the first contact abroad for our network of distributors and sales agents. Today, we export goods to about 30 countries around the world and exports make up significantly more than a half of our sales. I solve everything from common daily routine procedures to strategic decisions to build a business in a given country. And every country, has different specifics and a different mentality, so I'm definitely not bored in my work.


How long have you been in Horsefeathers?

It will be 4 years since I was directly part of the company, but I have known and worn the brand for many years. I also bought and sold it in the past. So the work and human connection is much older...


Before you started working at HF, you already had an interesting work history in terms of board sports. Can you tell us where you started?

I am lucky to have experienced the golden age of Czech skate shops and snowboard shops. Actually, my first job was in the legendary Přerov skate/snow shop Snowbirds. I started there as a part-time worker and then I joined Jirka Bůžek and ran a business for him. We also distributed Cliché Skateboards. It was a great experience and a very fun job. We did it with real enthusiasm at the time. They formed a community, organized competitions and parties, had a team, a service, a snowboard school... In the end, both Jirka and I took a different directions, but we are still very happy when we think about that era...


You later moved from the skate and snow shop and distribution of Cliché Skateboards to the cycling world. What led you to this?

It's no secret that the economic crisis and a few bad winters have hit the snowboard business very hard. I was considering what to do next at the time and a great offer came from Specialized. The offer from the brand, which I have always admired in the bike business, could not be refused. I started in the quality and complaints department and then moved on to marketing. It is funny that for the first time at that time we also talked about the possibility of my involvement in Horsefeathers with Tomáš Koudela. It was in 2012 and we left our cooperation at the freezing point for a few more years back then :).

Did you start biking after you started working for Specialized or have you been a biking enthusiast before?

Long before that. Bike is my whole life. I started at the age of seven, when I forced my parents to enroll me in a BMX club. It was probably a big blow to my dad then. He thought I would continue the family tradition on white water, but I preferred the classic communist BMX 20 to the kayak.


What bike disciplines do you do?

I'm not even labeling it today. I started with bicross, went through fourcross, partly downhill. But the years of competitions are long gone. Today I ride only for myself. I have a trail bike, 150 mm strokes and I prefer to ride on natural tracks outside of civilization. But I will not despise a family ride through the woods or bike park flights. Just yesterday I was trying out a new bike park in Lower Moravia and I have to praise the diggers there a lot.

This year, HF introduced its first Bike Apparel. Have you tried it yet? How would you rate it?

Yeah, I'm trying it. It is still a zero collection, ie. the real offer is yet to come. But it already turns out that it was good that we went for it. The materials and fits are great and I especially enjoy the fact that I have the opportunity to talk into the production processes and basically make a bike apparel for myself. The collection is a bit different than what the customer is used to from classic bike brands, but that's how we want it. Link bike and boardsports fashion.


Which pieces of it are your favorites?

Definitely Tracer bikeshorts. They have a narrower cut than I've ridden so far and after a few rides I'm excited about them. It's more of a cut for a gravel bike or XC style ride. So when you take a ride where you go to swallow kilometers, you will appreciate that they are tighter, but they still look cool. At the same time, we are also preparing a wider freeride variant of shorts for riding in protectors. And a bunch of other things that I can't reveal yet, but I'm really looking forward to them. The spring 2022 bike collection will be really diverse.

In addition to biking, you are also active in snowboarding in winter. How would you express these two activities in percentage, on how much % are you a biker and how much a snowboarder? Do you have it 50-50 or do you enjoy one of these activities a little more?

In a percentage, I probably can't express it. It's two different seasons for me. I never rode a bike in the winter or snowboarded on a glacier in the summer. I just have a bike in summer and a snowboard in winter. Since the summer is still longer in Europe, the bike percentage would probably slightly outweigh the snowboard. But I love both sports. Both give me freedom and escape from today's accelerated and over-technological times...


You also have a small son. Do you share bike/snowboard enthusiasm together?

It probably couldn't be any other way. The little one is constantly moving with us in a snb and bike environment, so he started riding earlier than most "ordinary" children. But we don't push him into anything. He himself will say many times that he would like to go "to the mountains where he trains ..." or to an enduro. Riding like this takes on a completely different dimension for us. Suddenly we can be the whole family together, in an environment that we love. And watching his daily progress is amazing ... this year, for example he was able to catch a ski lift at the age of five and just went on it... I can only recommend starting with children, for example, from the age of three. Many movements make children completely intuitive and do not have bad habits and counter-movements like adults or older children.

In addition to the already mentioned, you are also a commentator of sports events. What do you like to comment the most?

This again has a connection to the bike scene. I have been moderating bike events for 15 years. More intense approximately the last 6 years. This is also my second job and in a way my vent. In the last few years, I have been with the microphone at most important bike events that took place in the Czech Republic. I am the main speaker of the marathon series Bike for life, Czech Enduroseries, Blindur of Michal Prokop, and I also comment on some of the Czech Cup cross-contest competitions. The highlight of the season, however, is the annual World Cup in Nové Město na Moravě.


Any words at the end?

It will probably sound like a cliché, but I'm really glad that Tomáš Koudela called me then and pushed me to meet Hanuš. This created a great collaboration that I just enjoy. Working at Horsefeathers goes far beyond the concept of work. It's a lifestyle, family, fun. Yes, that includes stress and a lot of hard work, but it's great to be part of something you believe in and that has global ambitions.


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