Thursday, July 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
When I climbed back into the truck still damp from Niagara Falls I was nervous for the border crossing to come and as it would turn out my nerves were justified. I had been in contact with the office all week ensuring paperwork was filed and things were in order for the trip... completely prepared. My first stumble was trying to cross at the wrong bridge. I was ordered to cross anyway, get refused by Canadian Customs, return to America, and proceed to the correct crossing. I did as instructed and drove a few miles north to the appropriate crossing where all of my paperwork was supposedly waiting for me. Wrong again. The brokerage firm handling our papers had absolutely no record of NiteRider in their computer system and it took a few phone calls to figure out what was going on. Needless to say it took about an hour inside the customs office to finally get clearance to enter Canada. I was exhausted after all that ordeal so I drove about an hour away from the border, washed the truck and trailer, and got a hotel for the night. I woke up on Thursday refreshed and ready to get to the race site and set up. I checked out of my hotel and took a lap around the rig to inspect my wash job and took off. This would prove idiotic later on. Toronto for it's beauty and cleanliness has a horrible traffic problem. Mapquest, traffic, the Metric System, and poorly marked interchanges were making my morning incredibly frustrating. After cursing all four I finally found the race site and got down the business of setting up. I worked for about an hour in a tee shirt and jeans before deciding it was too hot for such attire. No problem, I've got a whole bag of other options in the backseat I thought to myself. As soon as I opened the door I was greeted with nothing but backseat, no sign of any bag. A decent shot of panic rushed through my body as I instantly knew what had happened. My admiration for a well-washed truck and trailer had caused me to leave my bag in the parking lot of the hotel about an hour away. I called the hotel to find out with much relief they had my bag. I finished setting up the trailer and took off to retrieve my bag, and sit in more traffic. After a busy day I decided to go into downtown Toronto and go to the top of The CN Tower, the world's tallest building. It rises above the Toronto skyline just above the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome) home of the Toronto Blue Jays. They were playing the LA Dodgers that night and the roof was open leaving me with this cool shot. Rob and Shawna were flying in from San Diego that night so I met up with them for dinner and a drink at the hotel and we called it a night.
We didn't have to be at the race site on Friday until about five so Rob and Shawna wanted to go to the CN Tower which meant I was spending another $25.99. I didn't mind since it was pretty cool. Perhaps cooler than the tower tour was our lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. All cheesiness aside they actually did have some cool stuff on the walls like the original handwritten lyrics to "Get Back" by the Beatles and Elvis Presley's pajamas. Check out the view from our table too! Alas it was time to get down to business and we took off for more traffic and eventually the race site.
Friday night was fairly uneventful with a few folks dropping off batteries to be charged and lots of questions about Saturday. Company President Jack Gresmer flew in and met us out at the race site and we all went to dinner to discuss new products and the joy of getting through customs. Saturday would be insane and we all knew it.
It was a steady stream of people from 9:30a.m. until about 11 when people start preparing for battle. Our inventory was getting quite lean by about 2 and we actually sold out of a lot of systems. It was the busiest I've seen so far.
I guess I should mention that this is North America's largest 24 hour race with over 2,000 racers. The start of the race is a spectacle in itself. With so many people out on the course in almost exclusively single track I'm sure the first lap was just like Toronto traffic, crowded and slow. I was able to sneak out for a lap around 2 a.m. Sunday morning and saw nothing but extremely tired faces which is understandable at that point. The course was really well marked and a total blast to ride. It was nice and rolling with a few good climbs to make you work hard, but it was exactly what makes mountain biking fun.
Finally the sun came up with NiteRider supported athlete Danielle Musto from Slingshot Bikes in first place in the womens solo category! Good Job Danielle! Santa Cruz Syndicate rider Mark Hendershot came away with the mens solo victory in the 40 plus division, he's no stranger to the podium at 24 hour races. Matt Klymson got the win in the hotly contested mens solo under 40 division, the top four guys were only a lap apart.
One of the coolest things I've seen so far at a 24 hour race was Chico's Mud Bog. Around 10:30 I was hearing some chanting and a lot of yelling so I decided to go investigate what it was all about. The Chico Racing crew had made a huge mud hole with a log ride through the middle of it and were giving away shirts for the first group of riders to brave the bog. So many tired faces would approach the bog and chicken out and take the bypass to a chorus of boos, but there were a few brave souls willing to risk their relative cleanliness for fame and glory. Here are some shots of the brave victors and the fallen. Some people welcomed the putrid waters and decided to ignore the log all together, but some made a go of it and won. I have to say Adam and his Chico Racing staff sure put on an awesome event and all Customs fiascoes aside, I'm excited to come back in August! I'm off to Kansas for my friends wedding and a couple of weeks of downtime , don't worry I'll keep in touch. Roll on!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Stylish I know. Almost as classy as the giant yellow trash bags.
On the boat approaching the Canadian Horseshoe falls, still dry.
Leaving the mist, very wet.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Death is a subject that I’ve had too much experience with in my short 24 years about this Earth. I’ve had a friend, a family member, and even a family friend pass away all within the last year. Tonight I experienced a different kind of loss – the loss of a stranger. We had met briefly and exchanged a few niceties, and there was even a mention of some rum for later in the evening, but for the most part we were strangers. Ben was the manager of Park Avenue Bike Shop in
I snapped this picture about five minutes before I got word that someone was in bad shape out on the course. The sunset was beautiful; the weather was perfect for a mountain bike ride. It’s exactly how a person should leave this life - doing what they love and surrounded by beauty.
Cherish your friends and loved ones and your times together for they are truly sacred. Spread love until your wheels stop turning.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Since I had arrived so early I was able to get set up at a fairly leisurely pace which allowed me enough time on Thursday to get out for a ride with Granny Gear Productions founder and inventor of the 24 hour race format, Laird Knight. We were joined by several other volunteers and event workers for what would be one of the funnest rides I have ever been on. The trail was amazing and I was feeling great. It was the first time in a few years where I've been riding with a huge smile on my face. I was thoroughly relaxed and refreshed after we finished. It was such a beautiful trail and I was kicking myself for not having my camera with me. Mossy rocks, ferns, and beautiful forest everywhere.
I had two volunteers for the weekend who were from the local bike shop in Morgantown - Pathfinder. It's a strange concidence since I used to work at The Pathfinder in Manhattan, Kansas. Those are apparently the only two bike shops named "Pathfinder" in the whole US because we would often receive shipments intended for them and they would get our stuff occasionally. Andrew and Steve were by my side all through the night charging batteries and answering questions. They did an awesome job and their help was much appreciated.
With good help I was able to get out and explore pit-row and the campgrounds with help from our MiNewt light. I snapped a few blurry pictures that looked really cool with the MiNewt's blue glow.
At some point during the night a strange visitor showed up at the NiteRider trailer - this huge moth. It landed on my shoulder and as I tried to brush it off with a roll of paper towels it just stuck to them and stayed until about 1 p.m. before taking off. The thing was huge so I snapped a picture of it with a quarter for proper size comparison.
I shot a few pictures of the timing tent and the flyover brigde that all of the riders had to cross before their lap was through. They look like ghost pictures with only the glow from their lights as proof they were there. Some of them looked pretty cool so I thought I would share them with my faithful blog readers. Enjoy!
Sunrise brought much relief to the NiteRider crew, and we got a quick nap before the awards ceremony. On to New York for the Hardcore 24.
Monday, June 4, 2007
I pulled out of Spokane on Monday at about 11 a.m. hoping to make it to Casper, Wyoming before stopping for the night, however I ended up in Sheridan, Wyoming after about 9 hours and called it a day. On Tuesday I left Sheridan at what I thought was 9 a.m. but was actually 10 once I figured out I was in the mountain time zone. I figured if I put in a long day I could make it back to Kansas and catch up with family and friends for a day so I settled in. I experienced all kinds of weather that day. It rained off and on the whole way back to Kansas, there was snow on the ground outside of Boulder, Colorado and about three inches of hail in Limon. Once I hit the high plains of Eastern Colorado the skies turned dark and I knew it would be bad. Somewhere around Colby, Kansas the sky turned black as night and the wind was epic. I shut off the iPod and turned on the local stations. All they were talking about was exactly what I was driving into which included but was not limited to : tornadoes, hail, deadly lightning, torrential downpours, and of course 60-70 mph winds. As they rattled off mile markers on I-70 it was glaringly obvious I was in the belly of the beast. The wind was pushing that trailer all over my lane and I slowed it way down to keep it on the road. Eventually I made it out and was back on the way. I pulled into my hometown at about 2:30 a.m. tired and road worn ready for some sleep.
I spent Wednesday getting fitted for a tuxedo for my friend Brian's wedding in July, hanging out with family, and giving tours of the trailer for curious friends. In a small town you can't have a ride that big and not expect to get passers-by asking questions. A big steak dinner with the family and back to the road on Thursday. I pulled through Nashville listening to Waylon Jennings, it just seemed appropriate. Anyone who knows me will know that I have a ton of love for some old country, so being in Nashville for me is like being in the Holy-Land, even if I was only passing through. I stopped South of Music City and called it a night. I finally made it to the race venue on Friday afternoon around two-ish and met Shannon our ATV brand manager and got set up.
As soon as I pulled in to the race people swarmed us like buzzards on fresh roadkill. We hardly had time to get the doors open before we were swamped. I must say it's cool to see people other than cyclists so excited about NiteRider stuff. I was unsure how busy we would be at a motorcycle event, it turns out REAL busy. After rocking and rolling on Friday afternoon we ducked out at about 8 and drove the 30 minutes to our hotel.
Saturday morning is always a rough one when you know you aren't going to sleep again for a good 23 hours or more, but we showed up at the race around 10:15 a.m. and got down to business. I had a few repairs to take care of during the afternoon, but for the most part it's a quiet time for "the light guys". I did keep things interesting during the mid-afternoon lull by burying the Dremel tool about 1/4 of an inch into my left middle finger. That felt absolutely wonderful and was incredibly hard to clean out, but the show had to go on bum finger or not. As soon as night fell we were busy again with people buying extra batteries and helmet mounts. Charging batteries wasn't as big of a job as at a mountain bike race since most of the guys had their R.V.'s to hang out in, but we saw a little bit of action with that. I stayed fairly alert throughout the night and we ended up cutting out around 6 a.m. to catch a few hours of sleep and make it back for the awards ceremony.
The race promoters really do an excellent job of putting this event together, I was blown away when they brought us a first-aid kit with the race logo on it as well as really cool shirts, a calendar, a race program, an embroidered hat, and all kinds of goodies. I have to say the thing that made me most impressed were the giant checks they handed out to the winners, I've always wanted to stand on the podium and hold a giant poster board check over my head, it seems like the perfect mantle piece. Sweet! We also handed out a few NiteRider systems to the winners, although Shannon did fine with it, he sure did make an ugly podium girl. All in all it was an awesome race with incredibly good people all weekend. I tried to get some cool night shots of the riders passing by me on the trail but man, they go a lot faster with those engines. All of my shots look like I was snapping them of a ghost or a UFO or something. Here's the best I could do...
Well now I'm off to West Virginia for the Granny Gear Productions 24 Hours of Big Bear. It should be a big one. Over and out.