Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tour of America's Dairyland

Back in 1992 I met my friend John when he hired me to be a mechanic at his bicycle shop. I worked there about a year, and then went back the CG full time. We kept in touch and in 2002 he came to Virginia for a visit. He told me then that he might be moving to the Chicago area. Unfortunately, I lost track of him. I didn't know if he had moved or if he had stayed in the Appleton, Wisconsin, area. Facebook was no help.

Fast forward to present time. The Kenda Pro Cycling team is competing in the Tour of America's Dairyland, and I'm bringing the team van and trailer from Minnesota. We're going to be staying in host housing but the trailer is too big to park at the homes so it's been arranged to park it at a local bicycle shop, Wheel and Sprocket. The first morning there, I'm in the trailer working on bikes when the manager comes out to say hello. We chat a bit and I tell him I used to know a guy who worked for Wheel and Sprocket in Appleton. "What's his name?" I tell him and he says "he works here now. He's inside." What are the odds of that?
From a day in the life

Later John got to meet some of the members of the team and they got to hear the story...

Team Director: "So, with no experience, you convinced him to give you a job as a mechanic and just learned on the go?"
Me: "Yep."
Team Director: "So pretty much the same situation as now..."

So it's been a busy couple days/weeks. The Nature Vally Grand Prix was a fun race and the people I met were great. But on Monday it was time to move on. Part of the team had been competing in the Tour of America's Dairyland and were doing very good. The support staff was to swoop in and provide, uhm, support.

Here's a picture from my workshop. It was pouring rain, but inside the trailer it was merely dark and stuffy.
From a day in the life


Johnny Sundt eats a doughnut on the starting line.
From a day in the life


The race continued to go well for us, and at the end, Kenda riders finished first and second overall. Hours of hard work and effort, lots of blood, sweat, and gears... it all payed off in the end. But I don't wan to take too much away from the riders. They put in up to 90 minutes of work per day. Ha! I put in 90 minutes of work 6 or 7 times a day! And do I get a 20lb wheel of cheese? No. But I got to hold one! Hey, no one becomes the mechanic because they want to win races. You can't win the race in the pits, you can only lose the race in the pits. But not this time.
From a day in the life

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A day in the life...

Here's a brief summary of a day in my life (while with the racing team).


Up at 5:30 since last nights race ended late and it was an hour away in Minneapolis. The bikes were loaded into the trailer for storage but there was work to do.

From a day in the life


Open the trailer, set up a work stand, a table for the tool box, grab a cup of coffee, and get to work. Ten bikes needed cleaning, gearing changed for the hills the riders will deal with, different wheels, and a general inspection.
From a day in the life

By 8 AM I was mostly done, just little things left. Eight racing bikes and two spares, plus three sets of spare wheels.
From a day in the life


From a day in the life


Time to load the van and drive it and the riders to the race. The race director drives the team car.

From a day in the life


Unload the bikes, inflate the tires, put the spare wheels and spare bikes on the team car, stand by for the start.

From a day in the life


During the race, I ride in the back seat with spare parts, ready to jump out if a rider needs a repair or wheel change. Here the team director gives some tactical advice to one of the races on the road.

From a day in the life


A picture of the front of the main field. I don't usually get this view. We were car #12 of 20, so mostly today I just watched the cars in front of us.
From a day in the life


After the race, the bikes get loaded back on the van, the riders get back in the van, and I drive back to the host housing. No hotels this trip, we're guests of some wonderful people (and amateur wine makers!!) in the town of Stillwater, MN. Back at the house, the bikes get loaded back into the trailer for the night. Tomorrow it starts again, though there is a little more to do since there was some bike-damage by the road conditions during the race.  One rider crashed, two bikes suffered race-related damage.  All the wheels need checking...
 
Early starts, late finsishes, low pay... it still beats my old job!  :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bike Racing.

I spent a busy weekend in Philadelphia working for the Kenda Team. Yes, I said working. I hung in there, a year, without anything that could be called a j-o-b, and this is certainly stretching the limits of that definition, for reasons I won't go into, but it was certainly work.


It was nice to feel useful, something that I realised was missing in my life. Apparently, lots of leisure time, with not much purpose, is not a good mix.

So here's a couple pictures from the weekend.

Driving to the race, the team manager meditating in the front seat, one of the racers is barely visible in the back seat, zonked out...
From Philadelphia

Not all accomidations are as nice as they were in Arkansas. Instead of a nice garage, I did my work on the sidewalk next to the Sheritan.
From Philadelphia

Prior to the race, team vehicles lined up...
From Philadelphia

See that guy driving? That's Frankie Andreau. He raced in the Tour de France NINE TIMES!!
From Philadelphia

Back in Cleveland, getting ready for the next trip.
From Philadelphia

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I think my favorite part of house-sitting is the access to a complete kitchen. Normally I travel with one pan and a camp stove, not the best combination if you are trying to bake a cake.


So I found a recipe in last week's Parade section of the newspaper and was eager to try it out. Grilled Stuffed peppers with a grilled tomato sauce. Did I mention this house had a grill? Here's a couple pictures of the effort. They were okay. Not spectacular, but I had to substitute some ingredients
From Virginia

From Virginia

From Virginia

From Virginia

I also made a couple of pizzas.
From Virginia

A huge thank you Brian and Leslie for letting me stay at their house this weekend. Now I'm back on the road, heading north. Virginia is too hot and muggy.

From my campground last week: hard to get good pictures of this beast, but imagine a cross between a beetle and a lobster.  Barely a quarter-inch long though.  Not too scary.
From Virginia

From Virginia