Monday, June 4, 2007

Yes, it's a bike race

...But the other kind of bike. Ever since I started working with bicycles I've always told people I was a bike mechanic. Often I've had to deal with explaining that it wasn't motorcycles I worked on, but "the pedal kind" of bikes which inevitably leads to disappointment on both ends of the conversation. However, this past weekend I was at a 24 hour race for that (at least to me) "other" kind of bike - The 24 Hour Perry Mountain Challenge in Maplesville, Alabama. You might be saying to yourself, "Wasn't he in Spokane, Washington last weekend? I bet that was a long drive!". You would be right.

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.


Ed said...

Collin -

I look forward to and enjoy the vivid descriptions of your travels - but the dremel tool incident - ick - hope you have recovered.

The 2008 product catalog was mailed today and all is busy back at the San Diego head shed - the count down for shipping new products is on.

Continued exciting but safe travels.


Gogo said...

I too look forward to the epilogs. Hope the trail to West Virginia was safe and uneventful. Too bad about the finger – hope it doesn’t cut into the riding.

Matthew said...

You is a much better alternative to keeping yourself awake than a Dremel tool....

Keep up the good work. Hope you enjoy WV.


PS - I love the Black Keys!

gwadzilla said...

thanks for being there...

I did not need any assistance
but you were there

my NiteRider lights were all charged and in working order

there was no need for the last minute helmet mount or cable extender

I had it all
you guys were there

you helped out a team mate of mine
which helps me out

so thanks