Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jack's Bike Shop
The Office.
Have a seat.  At this shop you can.

I have been helping a friend, working a 40-hour weeks at Jack's Bike Shop.  It's great to be able to help, but I wonder who has gotten more out of it, him or me.  He’s gotten my time, gotten to keep the shop open hours that otherwise would be unavailable.  I've gotten to hone my mechanic skills, and I got to see what it would be like to settle down, work a job… I have one week left and I can’t wait to get moving again, though I’m not sure if it’s the lure of the road or the fear of growing mossy.

The Founder.

In many ways, I wish I was staying longer.  Nick has been great to work for and the shop is exactly what it should be.  For years, friends have come to me for advice about what bike to buy.  And I’d always tell them this: the difference between any 2 or 3 bikes in a giving price range is so slight that it’s not worth worrying about.  Go to the shops in your area, hang out, talk the the employees, learn their names, ask dumb questions,  bum a cup of coffee.  After doing that at each place, one shop will obviously be where you want to spend your money, and the others will be the ones you avoid.  Jack’s is that shop you feel like a friend in.  It has been a joy to go to work.  Despite my reclusive life style, I always enjoy talking to the people that come in looking for stuff.  It wouldn’t take much to get me to stop wandering and work at Jack’s for a while longer.  Fortunately, no one has figured out what it is.  Because I’ve got places to go.
The Race

The Tour of California happened again.  And for the second time, I got to be part of it.  I was asked to be the number 2 mechanic on the 5-Hour Energy presented by Kenda Racing Team.  I got to see some old friends, and make some new friends.  I got to work with one of the best mechanics I know; Tennyson.  I think I’m big time, I’ve been a mechanic on a team at the Tour of California two times…  Tennyson has done the tour 6 times!  The things that impress me don’t phase him at all.  My third time working with him and once again I learned from the experience.  

One of the team sponsors had a camera along in the cars enough to put together this 16 minute video.  The beginning and end focus on the Sea-Sucker racks that the team uses, but the middle shows  what it is like in the team car during the racing.  Watch how the director hands out water bottles and strategic advice to the riders.  Watch how we scramble to do repairs.  Imagine how we fill the rest of the 12-14 hour work days when the cars are parked and each of the bikes is getting as much maintenance every day as your bike gets in a year.  Nothing wrong with those fine bikes, just the demands of racing means more attention every day.  The mechanics can’t win the race: we can only loose it.  
(can't figure out how to link it, here's the video): 
Always much to do.
My driver all week was Gord Fraser.  I must be really important (Ha!) to have him as my driver.  Check out his accomplishments here:   We had a great time all week, working and laughing and trying to win the race from the car.  Of course, only the riders can win.  But everyone involved gave all they everything they had to get a rider on the podium.  Especially the riders.  I will be working with the team at other events this year and after two days of recovering from the last one, I can’t wait for the next one!
This is Gord at work.  

Back to the bike shop.

Brothers Chad (left) and Nick (owner).
 A modern day Orville and Wilber Wright.  Except without the airplane.
      After the race, it was back to the bike shop.  I said I'd stay till June and the time has been racing by.  From here I’ll be moving west, heading back to Gig Harbor for a brief stop, then on to more adventures.

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