It’s been so long since I blogged, I can’t even remember what the subject of my last post was. I will say this… it has been one HECK of a year, and it ain’t over yet. Here’s a timeline, of sorts, since I last blogged:
I finished up my gig with Carmichael Training Systems at the Tour of California (Holy Cow… I haven’t blogged since May/June!). It was another great trip out west. We had a busy 10 days out there, and I got the opportunity to work with a lot of great coaches and staff, and a very talented group of cyclists. It’s always a pleasure to work with such a professional organization like CTS.
For Memorial Day weekend, I missed USPRO Championships in Chattanooga, TN, in order to head to the Princeton/Pennington, NJ area for a training camp for the team I was working Race Across America with. Team Melanoma Exposed consisted of 4 employees of Bristol-Myers Squibb, all of who were dedicated to raising money and awareness to combat melanoma. We had a great training weekend, and were definitely prepared for our trip across the USA in June. I also learned that not all of New Jersey is as terrible as portrayed on MTV. The Princeton area was beautiful, and had some amazing roads for cycling. I’d like to get back there with my own bike sometime.
While in California, I was asked to work at the Philly Cycling Classic with the Specialized-Lululemon Women’s Team. I was stoked to have the opportunity to work with them for that weekend. It was good to see my friend Carmen Small, again. She was one of the ladies on the Aaron’s team when I wrenched for them in 2007. She’s come a long way since then, including winning the USPRO Women’s TT Championship the previous weekend. The whole team was amazing, and after a very interesting race (including temporarily being pulled from the caravan for our vehicle being too tall), we pulled off the victory, with Evie Stevens taking the win. As a mechanic, it’s always good to get a win like that… it validates the work you do.
Mid-June, I flew back out to California for RAAM. This was my first time working the event, so I didn’t know what to expect… and neither did the rest of the team. We were determined to make it work, however. After a couple of prep days, we started in Oceanside, CA, and around 8-9 days later, we arrived in Annapolis, MD… ocean to ocean. The team finished 3rd in the Men’s 4 Person Team division. It was a surreal experience, and I can’t even come close to describing it all right now. I will say that once you spend over a week working, sleeping, and enduring 16 people in an RV… there are definitely some bonds forged that cannot be broken. Take that however you like…
Since late June, I’ve been at the helm at BikeStreet USA in Greenville on Woodruff Road. I think we’ve got the best staff in the business, and I’m dedicated to making things work more smoothly and efficiently around the store. We’ve done well for the past few months, made some changes, and we’re constantly looking to improve the way we do things around the shop, to enhance the customer experience, and to make our shop the go-to shop in the Greenville area for… well, for bikes in general (No offense to my other buddies at other shops in Greenville… nothing but love for you guys!).
I may recap some of these events in greater detail later, but for now, I’ll try to start posting a little more regularly. We FINALLY got our internet set up at our new house, so I’ll have a bit of time in the evenings to catch up on things. I post fairly regularly on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, so if you just can’t wait for a new blog post, follow the links to those pages.
Thanks for the support. More good stuff coming soon.
I took a brief hiatus from writing on my blog, not because I didn’ t have anything to say, but because I simply haven’t had time to cram another thing into my schedule. Looking back, I see my last post was before Cyclocross Worlds in February, so I’ve got some catching up to do. Here’s a few highlights:
Sickness – Everyone in my family (with the exception of my amazing wife) got some form of a flu or stomach bug AT LEAST a few times. Niki had some debilitating migraine issues, rather frequently, which required some added responsibility on my part after work.
School – Had one class during the first half of the semester, and one during the second half (which ended May 10). I did okay during the first class, but the second, I tanked. The class wasn’t interesting to me, and I didn’t put in the time needed to make the grades happen. I feel really guilty about it, but sometimes those things happen.
Shop Closed – The shop job that I landed in September came to a halt in mid-April. Free-Flite Bicycles bought a multisport store in Sandy Springs, Cadence Multisport, forcing our store location to close. It was a great financial move on the owner’s part, and will work well for the company, but a shame for the Canton community. Half of the staff decided to transfer to the main store in Marietta, and half of us opted for other things. I didn’t know what I would do at the time, but I knew I could get some jobs in the interim, in order to make it work.
We’re Moving! – With all the melee going on with my job, Niki and I decided that it was time for a change. We informed our landlord that at the end of May, we would be vacating our current residence. The plan was to head to Jacksonville, FL, to spend the summer with Niki’s parents. It would give the kids some quality “grandparent time,” and give us a break to regroup and figure out what our next step would be.
Those were the difficulty-riddled bullet points. The following are some great things that came along, filled in the gaps, and offered the silver lining to my aforementioned dark clouds:
UCI Paracycling Open (Greenville, SC) – I was asked to round up a crew of mechanics to provide neutral support for an international paracycling race near my hometown. I was happy to oblige, mainly because it was a win-win; I had the opportunity to work on some exquisite machines, meet some absolutely unbelievable athletes, and my kids got to spend some quality time with their grandparents. The field was filled with World Champions in their individual disciplines (at one point, there were FIVE World Champs in the TT start house at one time!), and other local athletes, who had never competed in road events before. It was an incredible experience, that I will post about later. I want to thank my neutral support crew for all their help: Neal Herring (Sunshine Cycle Shop – Greenville, SC), Tim Wellborn (Cycle Center – Columbia, SC), and Derrick O’Shields (Grady’s Great Outdoors Bike Shop – Anderson, SC). Honorable mention goes to my wife, Niki, who helped me at the TT start and ran a lot of errands for things we needed during the weekend.
Athens Twilight/Roswell Criterium – Since my bike shop had closed, I had some free time on my hands, so I picked up a job with a pro team, Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis. I had followed them for a while, and had worked for some of their riders when they were on other teams in the past. They had a split team, meaning half their team was racing in Arkansas at the Joe Martin Stage race, and the other half were racing the USACRITS Speed Week criteriums in the Southeast. I provided mechanical support for them over the course of the weekend, and they managed to be one of the strongest teams in the field, putting several riders in the Top 10 each day. More to come on those events, as well.
Amgen Tour of California w/CTS – I’m currently in California, on my way to work at the Tour of California, once again working with Carmichael Training Systems. I worked California, Utah, and USPRO Challenge in Colorado with them last year, and had a really good time. I am looking forward to the next nine days of work. Although there are extremely long, hard days of work ahead, I really am in my element when working like this.
Race Across America (RAAM) – A week or so ago, I accepted a position as mechanic for a RAAM team from Bristol Myers Squibb. These men are trying to raise money to bring about a greater awareness, and hopefully a cure, for melanoma. After Tour of California, I will be home for three days, then flying up to Princeton, NJ, for a camp with the team. On June 12th, I’ll fly back out to California and follow Team Melanoma Exposed across the United States, on their mission to spread awareness of this terrible form of cancer.
GOT A NEW JOB! – When visiting my parents in SC last weekend, I visited a friend in Greenville, SC, who is regional manager for a chain of stores called BikeStreet USA. He was in need of a Service Manager at his largest store, and asked if I was interested. After several discussions and a really great visit to the shop, I have accepted that position, and will start very shortly. The plan is to spend a week in Greenville after my Tour of California and RAAM Team Camp trips, but before RAAM. After RAAM is finished, I will fly back down to Greenville and be there full-time from that point on. This will mean a big move for our family, but we’ve discussed it and feel it will be a good move for us, on several levels. I am going to try and take some traveling mechanic positions in the future, and it seems by the way the regional manager and I were talking, that scheduling adjustments and vacation days can allow some of that to be possible.
Lots of change is happening, and on some fronts, I’m very nervous and anxious. I can’t help thinking that when things stop changing, we stop living. We become stagnant at that point, and fall into a really bad spot that nobody wants to be in. I’m glad things are changing for us, and I can’t wait to move on to the next several chapters of our lives. We’ll be leaving a lot of good friends in Georgia, but we’re close enough to make occasional visits, and there’s always Facebook…
We’re currently halfway finished with our move, but will be transitioning over the next two months. If you need to contact me, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your friendship and support.
On any given day in Atlanta, a traffic jam can pop up anywhere. For me, today was that day and the location was a few miles ahead of me…
I decided to take my Dad’s old van to work today. I stopped at the gas station to put some gas in the car and grab a soda before my 8 mile commute down the interstate to the bike shop. I kept thinking that I wished I had ridden my bike in, rather than drive, but I had a lot of old gear that I was taking down to the shop to get rid of, so it was a necessary evil.
About two miles down the interstate, traffic immediately came to a standstill. We were going nowhere, and by the pace of the first 5 minutes of traffic, we would be there for a while. After several minutes, cars started creating another lane in the shoulder around the two normal lanes of traffic. It was getting crazy. Unfortunately, so was the temperature of my engine. I noticed the temperature gauge on the inside of the car start rising at a fairly abnormal rate and started to get worried.
After a few minutes of rising temperatures, the van started overheating and smoking. My first instinct was to say, “Crap.” I had to wait for a hole in the “shoulder traffic” to move the van into the grass on the side of the road and park the van. I had to get to work and didn’t have a ride, so… I pulled my bike out of the back of the van and prepared for my commute in to the bike shop.
It was pretty neat riding around and through all the traffic jam. It was especially fun to see the cops at the top of the exit ramp, looking at me like, “What did you just do?” The thrill was fun for a second, but wore off when I remembered that I WAS wearing rolled up blue-jean trousers and sandals for the last 6 miles of my commute… sheesh!
I kept reminding myself of a video I spotted a few weeks back. In the video, a group of cyclists take to the LA Freeway during rush hour to show how fast they could ride in comparison to the cars. It was awesome! Bottom line today was, you just never know what you’re gonna run into when you head off to work.
Last week, I had the privilege of being asked to join David Bernstein on his internet cycling podcast, “The FredCast.” It’s one of the most (if not THE most) popular cycling podcasts on the internet today.
David wanted some insight as to what cyclists could expect when going into their local bike shop for a spring tune-up. I also gave a few good tips about what minor repairs cyclists could do to their own bikes to keep them in good working order, and what kind of tools the home mechanic needed to have on hand in their workshop/garage.