Monday, June 25, 2007

OH! Canada

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!


Jeff Kerkove said...

Dude, get a GPS. I just picked up a TomTom for the trip from Iowa to the Mt St Anne World Cup in Quebec. I had no traffic issues what so ever. And yes, Toronto does have a traffic problem

Ergon USA

Collin said...

My phone has GPS on it but I rarely use it. I guess I should start. I have to admit I'm mighty jealous of your trip to the world cup race. I would love to see one!

lucky said...

What a good blog. Why didn't you get in the mud, I would have. Lucky
Welcome back to the good old USA. Lucky 2