Monday, April 30, 2007

Welcome to the Hustle...

"Do you have any vacancies for tonight?" I spit out for the 5th time. "How much are you looking to spend?" Those aren't the most settling words when you are trying to find a place to stay the night and you're at your 5th hotel in the last hour. "How much are your rooms?" I inquire. "How much are you looking to spend?" I'm asked yet again-- welcome to the seedy underbelly of half-star motels in rural America. After getting swindled out of $65 a night I crashed into my "non-smoking" room conveniently stocked with ashtrays. I fell asleep to the wonderful sound of someone else's T.V. and the delightful scent of cigarette smoke and fresh paint. Oh Lompoc, your charm is far too undeniable.

The Firestone Mountain Bike Classic was stop #2 on the National Mountain Bike Series, and stop number four on my North American stroll. The Firestone family of tire/ABC reality television/winery fame hosted the event in scenic Santa Barbara county. Since there was no racing post-sunset, I was there mainly to engage the public in informative conversation about NiteRider product and offer lights and accessories for sale. Outrageously warm temps and very little shade kept the vendor expo very quiet which afforded me some time to live out my dreams as a complete cycling geek. I was able to watch the mens and womens pro short-track and cross-country races in their entirety.

The Mens short-track race was very spectator friendly and I was able to snap some cool shots on the course. It was incredibly hot on Saturday and I wondered if that would play into the race. Judging by the blistering pace that was set by the front of the pack, heat was only a minor inconvenience. Max Plaxton from Canada ended up making a decisive breakaway and held on for three laps solo to take the win from Ryan Trebon, Barry Wicks, Geoff Kabush, and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, four big names that are always on the podium.

The Cross Country race was on Sunday amidst cooler temps and a slight breeze that kept the riders in packs. Both the men's and women's races were hampered at the start by some tangle ups leaving some riders with a bit of a gap to make up. Kabush, JHK, Wicks, Plaxton, and Mattieu Toulouse were the men out front. The wind was definitely a factor with the riders taking turns on the front. The finish came down to a final sprint between JHK and Kabush in the last 50 meters with Kabush edging out Jeremy for the win. It was a very exciting finish to an exciting weekend of pro mountain bike racing. Next stop Cool, CA.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lompoc, California is peppered with vintage charm. These two signs in particular caught my attention while I was exploring my weekend base today.

Cattle ranches and wineries encompass this sleepy town where the dogs never seem to stop barking. It's outrageously charming even with it's surplus of liquor stores and it's federal penitentiary. Watch out for the stampede...

Friday, April 27, 2007

So I got my bike today....

Two boxes for one bike???? Interesting.

Catching on...

OK, I get it. Hilarious...

A big no-thanks to my old pals at the shop... Payback is most definitely hell.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Work is too taxing.

What a rough day, time to unwind...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Insomnia has found a new best friend.

Cannons signified the start of the 24 Hours of Vail Lake in Temecula, California. For the racers it meant a weekend pain and lost sleep, for me it meant that my duties were just beginning. For the next seven months I will shun sleep on the weekends keeping batteries charged and racers racing. Vail Lake was my introduction to the sleepless night.
Two of NiteRider's sponsored athletes flew into town on Friday to take part in the Vail Lake race, ultra-endurance junkies David Haase from Wisconsin and Shanna Armstrong from Texas. Both have competed several times in Race Across America, a road cycling race from the Pacific to the Atlantic, crazy I know! Neither had attempted a 24 Hour mountain bike race, but were up for the challenge. NiteRider even had a team of their own with company President Jack Gresmer forming a five man team to take on the night. With Dave and Shanna and Jack's team I figured I would be thrust into pit crew for all three - I was right. Mixing water bottles with the proper nutritional supplements and preparing food for the racers kept me busy from noon to noon. There's a particular treat that Dave prefers over long efforts in the saddle that has become known as the "Dave Special". It's a tortilla with extra-crunchy peanut butter spread on it wrapped around a banana. I made several of those over the course of the race. I also had to make sure that everyone had a fully charged Moab for their handlebars and a MiNewt for their helmets. In between taking care of things with team NiteRider I was charging batteries for the other competitors, repairing lights, and answering questions about our products. Luckily Rob showed up at about 4 in the afternoon so I wasn't alone going into the night.
As soon as the sun went down it cooled off a ton. I was freezing cold the whole night and was cursing myself for leaving the space heaters behind in San Diego. Chris Lesser who is a writer for bike magazine brought by a stack of magazines and a few Red Bulls around 3:30 which was a life-saver. Things were starting to get a little loopy but the carbonation kicked me straight. The reading material was a nice way to keep my brain distracted and stay awake. At one point I went to go sit in the truck to try and warm up and skirted the line between awake and asleep for about 20 minutes. Once the sun came up I felt a little more awake and was happy to be close to the end, but probably not as happy as the racers.
Noon came quickly and found NiteRider supported riders rolling in success. Dave won the solo mens division by several laps and Shanna was fourth in the womens solo category. Team NiteRider pulled in a solid third place in the mens 5 person team division. Great job everyone! Finally finishing meant post-race rub downs by Brandon who was there to help out Dave and Shanna, I even got a few minutes on the table and some acupuncture for a sprained ankle. I'm deathly afraid of needles but I decided to give it a shot and it was worth the risk. There was no pain involved and my ankle felt a ton better once it was done.
Before packing everything up it was time for a few group pics with team NiteRider and Dave and Shanna. Temecula was a blast and I'm looking forward to many more sleepless nights!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

This certainly isn't dust bowl country.

Leaving the predictable weather of sunny San Diego behind on Wednesday, April, 11th I pointed the truck and trailer North towards Monterey, California for the famed Sea Otter Classic. As I pulled out of the office I knew I had a long day of driving ahead of me starting with the Los Angeles freeway/parking lot system. Sure enough I was in traffic in about an hours time, but I put the iPod on random and succumbed to things beyond my control. John Carpenter's "Escape from L.A." dominates my thoughts.
With L.A. staring at my taillights things were looking up. Northwest of Bakersfield I merged onto Highway 46 and headed West through oil fields, crop fields, and the intersection where James Dean lost his life. Ghost towns littered the drive and conjured up images of bustling farming communities and trucks loaded with fresh produce. I finally hit the 101 and knew I was getting close. I hit Monterey at about 9:45 and went straight to bed, Thursday would bring a lot of work.
Laguna Seca Raceway is the stage for the Sea Otter Classic, it's an amazing raceway nestled in the mountains above Monterey Bay -- very cool. The vendor expo has become somewhat of an early trade show for the cycling industry and attracts company heads and media galore. Gary Fisher was even kind enough to stop by the NiteRider booth to chat about upcoming projects. I must admit it was pretty cool to see the pro riders and industry heads walking around the vendor expo amongst your everyday cycling enthusiast. Sea Otter is a must-see event for any cycling fan!
Saturday's forecast was rain. Of course. Last year at Sea Otter rains mired the festival and turned it into a
mud-fest, our minds shuddered at the thought of a repeat. As expected the rains came and they came hard. It poured for about an hour soaking the festival grounds and sending festival-goers scrambling for someplace dry. Some of the vendors were unlucky enough to have been issued an area in a flood plain, floating some items at the Syncros booth. The NiteRider trailer was a nice dry oasis amongst a rain-soaked tent city, I was happy to be where I was. We had a great view of the dual slalom course which even at the rains loudest roar was packed with fans until they postponed the races. Dedication at it's finest. John Steinbeck lived just miles from here and it really makes one understand the story of The Grapes of Wrath; The Joad's packing up everything and leaving the Oklahoma dust bowl behind for a place where crops and people prosper. These certainly were crop drenching rains.
Sunday was the final day of the festival and
a we
lcome sunny day, windy but sunny. The previously muddy expo was baked dry before noon and packed with fans even sooner. It was a fun and busy weekend and I highly recommend the Sea Otter Classic to anyone whether you're a fan of BMX, Road, Mountain Biking, or just rain.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

You've got to sink to swim...

Sea Otter is an old Latin word for rain, or so it would seem.

Monday, April 9, 2007

All Mondays aside...

There's just something about Mondays that makes me long for the weekend, usually it's sleeping in and free-time, today it's work. I'm excited to get to Sea Otter and officially start my tour of duty as the event coordinator with NiteRider. It's guaranteed to be a busy weekend and a lot of work, but I'm ready to get started. Going to Sea Otter for me is the equivalent of a NASCAR fan going to the Daytona 500. Oh and did I mention I'll be in this???

Saturday, April 7, 2007

A Blog is Born.

Hello all, this is Collin checking in from San Diego, California to announce the arrival of this new baby blog. I'll try to get on here and update semi-daily, but this will be your check-in for all of the news related to NiteRider's 24 hour mountain bike race season support. As you may have already guessed, I'll be escorting the NiteRider race support vechicle all about the United States and a bit of Canada. The fun starts next weekend at the world famous Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California! Check in to find out about upcoming events and news and even a little bit of mindless banter from yours truly. See you on the road!