Monday, July 25, 2011

Miles to go before I'll sleep...

After Canada I had a couple of weeks to kill.  The team was nice enough to loan me a car and I headed from Cleveland to Michigan for a little R&R.  

First up was a camping trip with Paul.  We headed up to Boyne City, Michigan, stayed at a very expensive state park, and road some terrific hilly roads around the area.  To be camping again was great, even if it wasn’t my usual accommodations.  Paul brought along a spacious 9x9 tent and two vintage cots.  Luxury!!  It felt great to have time off again, the racing team has me working a lot of hours and a lot of days.  Too soon though, we had to head back.  Paul hasn’t achieved retirement yet and the j.o.b. was calling him.  Retirement will come soon, we hope.  Plans have been made....

Next was a trip to Grand Rapids to visit my adopted family, Jeff, Catrina, Amelia, and Justine.  They were, as usual, wonderfully hospitable.  I forced them to go to a bike race to watch the famous Breezer in a race.  They even pretended to enjoy it.  The real tell will be when they start riding their bikes.  Then I’ll know they enjoyed it...

My stay of lazy days included a 4th of July weekend and pretty soon it was time for me to return to work.  Back to Cleveland and then I was off again in the team van, towing the trailer full of racing supplies, heading to Boise, Idaho, then Bend, Oregon.  

The long drive got me thinking about the places I’ve been since February and made me realize this job has really taken me on a wild ride.  Here’s a recount of the driving I’ve done since I reported for duty in February for spring training: 

Flew to Milwaukee, drove the van and trailer to Cleveland, then on to Florida for camp, back to Cleveland, back to Milwaukee.  I drove to Phoenix, drove to Los Angles for two weeks of racing, drove back to Phoenix, then to Truth or Consequences (New Mexico).

From there I went to Silver City (also New Mexico), Phoenix, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, did the Tour of California, left Los Angles on Sunday evening and arrived in Greensboro, South Carolina on Thursday.  Drove to Philadelphia, then Cleveland, then to Burlington, Vermont.  From there we went up to Quebec City (Canada),  back to Vermont, back to Cleveland.  Then I headed to Idaho for one night of racing, then to Bend, Oregon, which gets us to the present day.  

Along the way I’ve watched the guys win races, and I’ve seen them suffer badly for 30th place.  I’ve seen them crash and it tears my heart out each time.  I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve put in to this job and always worked by the mantra I learned long ago pit-crewing for a friend at motorcycle races: “You can’t win a race in the pits, you can only lose a race in the pits.”  

I’ve only got a couple races left to work, which  might be the cause of my melancholy thoughts.  I’m heading to ElK Grove, Illinois for a short stage race, then back to Cleveland.  Then I’ll be done till November, and I have several interesting plans. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Canada

I spent a week in Quebec for a race, the Tour de Beauce.  To get there, I drove the team van and trailer from Cleveland to Burlington, Vermont, picked up the riders at the airport and then drove another 6 hours north.  Even then, we were not as far north as parts of Maine or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  

Mountain Top Finish
From Canada!

From Canada!

The race was tough on the riders, and tough on the staff, too.  Each day (except the last) included a drive to the start and another drive back from the finish.  In between the riders were dealing with long, straight, very hilly roads.  Straight roads are tough on the riders because when they would come over a hill, they’d have a clear view of the road ahead, and twenty minutes or so to anticipate the next big climb.

Seven bikes, four spares.  Every day.
From Canada!

In Quebec they speak a language a foreign language that is hard to understand.  For example, here’s an actual quote from one of our the teams actual riders: “I thought I would go ‘cause it seemed like everyone was on the rivet.  So I went and got a gap but then I was blown.”  

In this picture, it was hailing on my tent but the sun was shining a block away.
From Canada!

The locals were no better.  For some crazy reason, they all spoke French.  I was okay with that until just past “Bon-jors” with I think means “you look tired.”  

High-speed cameras are required to stop the action when riders eat.
From Canada!

We had one day in Quebec City.  Very impressive place, even though I didn’t get to see much of the town beyond the race route.  Based on what I saw, I wouldn’t mind spending more time there.  Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures from the area but I did get one shot of a statue of a very famous Quebec resident: Confucius.  Really.
From Canada!

Next stop: Vacation!