2012 was a very dynamic year for me. Every month, it seemed like there was something new and different headed my way. There was a lot of change and a lot of travel. 2012 was my busiest year as a mechanic since my season as Head Mechanic for the Aaron’s Pro Women’s Cycling Team in 2007, including travel to three major stage races. Without further delay… here are my Top 12 big events from the past year:
- Park Tool Tech Summit – The Park Tool Tech Summit was held in Atlanta, for the first time in 2012. I really enjoyed the two days of clinics and classes from major brands like Park Tool, Fox Racing Shox, Campagnolo, Shimano, Cane Creek, Rock Shox, and Mavic. As a professional bicycle mechanic, it would behoove you to go to one of Park Tool’s events, in order to stay on top of the latest technology and to become a more valuable asset to your shop.
- Athens Twilight and Roswell Criterium – The Athens Twilight Criterium is one of my favorite races to work. In 2012, I had the opportunity to work Twilight, and the following day at Roswell, with Team Exergy (now defunct). They were a great group of guys, and great racers! It was a pleasure to make their bikes run well, and to get some top ten finishes.
- Tour of California – Somehow, through a strange turn of events, I got the opportunity to work as Head Mechanic at the ToC Bucket List event with Carmichael Training Systems. It was my first event with CTS, and it was a LOT of hard work, but things went well. As a team, we got 20+ athletes and coaches from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles, covering over 700 miles, without too many major incidents or issues. We had a good staff, and worked with a lot of great athletes from all around the globe. It was great to get to know Coach Carmichael and his CTS staff, too.
- USPRO Road Race Championships – After my work with Team Exergy at Twilight/Roswell, I was asked to give them a hand at the USPRO Road Race in Greenville, SC. It’s home turf for me, and I’ve worked almost every edition of that race since it moved from Philadelphia in 2006. We had a full squad of nine riders, including Freddie Rodriguez, a three time USPRO champion and friend of mine. The race went okay. We had guys in the breaks most of the day, but missed the final split. After almost knocking Fred into a pond during a wheel change (long story…), he got back to the group and won the “second field sprint,” for 20th place.
- Quit My Job – After almost six years at Out Spokin’ Bicycles in Woodstock, GA, I decided to leave my job there. Sometimes you get to a point where you feel there’s not much more you can do to improve, like there’s a ceiling that you can’t break out of. I was to that point, and decided to make a move. I already had some time off scheduled for July, so I called it quits and went on vacation.
- Vacation Month – During the month of July, I did some pretty serious vacationing. The family and I went to Myrtle Beach, SC, for a few days of relaxation in the sand and surf with my wife’s parents. It was a good time, especially with the kids… they LOVE playing on the beach! We also took a few days off, left the kids with my Mom and Dad, and took a mini-vacation to Asheville, NC. We went to Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures for a bit of high-flying fun, and visited my good friend Andy’s shop, Chainheart Cycling Studio, which I had been threatening to visit since he opened a few years prior. Tip: When in Asheville, visit The Thirsty Monk. It’s a great little bar located in downtown Asheville, but they’ve got a Belgian-style basement pub with some great beer on tap. If you’re a connoisseur, stop by when you’re in town.
- Tour of Utah – Since I had some time off, due to my lack of a job, I offered my services to CTS at the Tour of Utah Bucket List event. This time, we only had 7 athletes/coaches, so I was the ONLY mechanic for the camp. Once again, a really good time with a really good group of athletes/staff. The scenery in Utah was breathtaking, and it was extremely nice to be based out of only TWO hotels the entire time we were there. That should be different in 2013, as the Tour of Utah has plans to go into the southern part of the state for some stages of the race.
- USA Pro Cycling Challenge (CO) – After Utah, I had four days at home, then jetted back out to Durango, CO, for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Once again, I was working as Head Mechanic for the event. Let me say this… Colorado is amazing. I drove across the state and was able to see some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. I’m totally in love with the mountains of Colorado, and I can’t wait to get back.
- Started Working at Free-Flite Bicycles – In September, I regained employment in the bicycle industry, at Free-Flite Bicycles. Free-Flite Bicycles is a big shop in the Metro Atlanta market that has been around for over 30 years. FFB has always been a competitor of mine, so it was a change of pace when I went to work for them. It’s been great, so far. I’m working less than six miles from home, so I’m able to commute by bike more often, and where I had been pulled out to the front of the store for sales at my previous job, at Free-Flite, I’ve been able to get back into the service area, spending time doing what I love… working on bikes. A good buddy of mine, Roofus (Kevin Adams), who I worked with for the better part of five years at Out Spokin’, is managing the store now, too. We’ve always gotten along well, and we understand each other’s systems. It’s a good working environment, and I’m pretty happy with the way things are going.
- Hincapie Gran Fondo – In October, I went to South Carolina for the Hincapie Gran Fondo. George Hincapie, one of my favorite cyclists, had just retired, and was hosting his 1st annual Gran Fondo. It was a good chance to catch up with some friends from Upstate SC, some CTS athletes and staff, and Coach Carmichael, too. It was a really tough, 80 mile ride, but it was a really good time. I even found some photos online of me leading out Hincapie’s group before the last major climb! One of the best organized rides I’ve ever been a part of, for certain.
- Working on Bikes Again – I know I’ve already mentioned this, but I am so excited to actually be able to work on bikes more consistently again. I’m not just a “parts-hanger,” I’m a mechanic. I take pride in being able to repair things that are broken. This year, I got the opportunity to work on more bikes and take care of my clients/customers/friends, better than I have over the past few years. I dig that.
- Friendships – Hands down, the best thing about 2012 have been the friendships I’ve made. Life is all about making connections and friendships, and people that don’t understand that are missing out. Over the course of the year, I met and worked with people from all around the globe, and made connections and friendships that will last for a long time. If we met in 2012, I want to thank you for that experience. Know that my door is always open for you, and I treasure you as a friend.
Thanks for a great year. I can’t wait to see what 2013 holds…