Before the stunt, Dave Mayer’s dad was taking two or three online orders a day for his Clean Bottles.
Then, after international TV video cameras caught Dave running alongside the Tour de France peloton, dressed in an enormous bottle costume, his father was suddenly processing 200-300 orders a day for the unique water bottles that feature a screw-off bottom.
So, again this year, Dave Mayer has packed his bicycle, his duct-taped trailer and his giant bottle costume for France.
Beginning July 11, Mayer will be camping alongside the route, and then hauling the big bottle up mountain passes in hopes of some TV time.
“It was intense last year,” Mayer said. “I would try to hit all the mountain stages. I’d have to park on the backside, and this costume doesn’t fold down at all. It was in a black bag. I would duct tape a dolly to the back of my bike. I’d have to climb up 8 miles or so, then descend.”
“People were funny. They’d ask, ‘Is that a dead body? Lance? Your mother in law?’” Mayer said. “The gendarmes were always giving me crazy looks. A lot of times they’d just stiff-arm me. It’s a contact sport.”
Mayer launched the company in 2010, but was still working a day job then to keep things afloat. Today, the company is four people, including Mayer and his father. They run the business of his house. Mayer came up with the screw-off bottom while out on a ride. “I took a swig of a nasty bottle, and it was like the twentieth time that had happened from leaving energy drink in there and the dishwasher not fully cleaning it out. I thought, ‘if it could just take the bottom out, the problem would be solved.’”
Mayer concocted the running bottle stunt at the 2010 Tour of California.
“I didn’t have any marketing dollars. It was $60,000 for a page in Bicycling,” Mayer said. “But I thought, people into cycling watch the Tour. And I have always loved people who make you laugh.”
Also at the 2010 Tour of California, Mayer walked around the starts and finishes, putting up posters in the porta-johns that read “Some things in life are always gross – your bottle shouldn’t be one of them.”
But sometimes, Mayer has found, he’s not always the one laughing – especially when wearing the bottle suit.
“On the Tourmalet last year, these Spanish guys started picking me up and throwing me in the air,” Mayer said. “I couldn’t communicate with them at all. There were all these drunk guys throwing me around in this crazy bottle suit. I was just thinking, ‘this is what I signed up for when I started a small business.’”
Watch for the giant running bottle on TV during the Tour this week — perhaps he’ll again be up in the air at the mercy of drunken cycling fans.