Crossing the Pond

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Ah international plane travel with bike stuff. After finishing a big block of racing in the US I headed to Europe to support Caroline Mani for two cyclocross world cups. First stop was Geneva, with all the stuff.

Thankfully Caroline's car was more than big enough for all of our things.

Caroline's parents were even nice enough to host me, and make me feel at home.

After a quick recovery day in France we headed to Koksijde, Belgium and one of the most difficult cross courses in the world. Its held on a series of sand dunes and as you might imagine riding your cross bike in the sand is quite difficult.

Finish line!

Plus fully indoor VIP area.

We were set up in the American compound including riders from the US national team, Noosa yogurt, Cal Giant, and Rapha Focus.

There were other teams as well.

We spiced up our area with the Caroline Mani one of a kind personalized tent.

Plus superfan dogs playing. You can't get too much of that.

Team USA even hooked us up with some coffee while we waited for the race to start.

A few from the pit. Belgium is known for attracting large crowds for cross races. This once was no exception.

Lots of people.

As a reward for Caroline getting in the top 15 we wrapped her up so she was ready to go home. I'm also considering checking her on the return trip to save money.

We even got home in time to watch the mens race. They are nice enough in Belgium to put it on TV.

On to England!

Pictures of Barrels

 After we finished up in Cincinati James and I only had a short drive to Louisville  for the race this coming weekend. Since the drive was so short we were able to add a little distance on and take a tour of the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, KY. This turned out to be a good use of a detour. (Note: if you're looking stories/pictures that involve bikes in any way, this post is not for you)

 Fermentation tanks that hold 7500 gallons of mash, yeast, etc. This is #1 of 7.

 Also a strange change from the breweries I have been to where all the fermentation vessels are sealed. These ones are open to the air and the tour. Hello future Bourbon.

 Then we got to the still room. There were three of them all made of copper.

 A closer shot of one of the stills.

 After the soon to be Bourbon goes through each still they check it in these windows.

 And then it goes into barrels.

 Which head off to age for a while.

 The barrels are rolled from the still house to the aging house by way of this metal railed barrel roller. It's all gravity fed so as soon as they go on they roll down the way to be aged.

 Aging house from the outside. Build in 18.... something.

 Inside. Very cool to see all of the same barrels with different dates on them.

 Since Woodford ages their Bourbon for 6-9 years the date range was pretty wide.

 More barrels!

 At the end of all of this learning, we got to taste the real thing. As a bonus we also got a "bourbon ball" truffle. 

Not too shabby for a day off.

While they were racing

 More cities and more bike races have happened. All in all the team is having a good year. Most of our riders have won a race or two.
Including, of course, Erica Zaveta who scored her first UCI win in St. Louis.
(phtocredit: Velonews)
 And wherever we go the compound remains more or less unchanged. That or I'm using an old picture.

 Sometimes the staff also joins in the fun. This is head mechanic James getting in on the action.


 My action has mostly consisted of taking photos of costumes. This was a couple of weeks before Halloween so maybe it was just a dry run.
 While we were in St. Louis we took in some of the tourist type activities. Mainly the Budweiser beer factory.
 Where you can still purchase your Bud Light Lime hoodies in time for Christmas.
 Here our tour guide explains that they use flavorless wood to help condition the beer. This explains quite a lot.
 Moreover the tour was cool for the architecture.
 Of which I took several pictures.

 I'm also happy to report I did not miss this photo opportunity.
 Enormous fermentation tanks. All of them are about two stories tall.

 According to this clock it is never Miller time.
 Apparently this fox was the mascot for  Bevo a malted milk drink that Budweiser produced a while ago. It was not very popular.
 So they stuck with Beer.
 The bottling line.
 We also got to check out the stables on the tour. We learned that aside from making beer Budweiser employees also vacuum horses.

After that we went over to the St. Louis Zoo. Both because we had extra time and because it is free.
 Can you imagine all of the years of school you have to go through to work at the zoo and then you find our you're actually just an underwater janitor? So much time to think about your student loans.
 This was either a very strange inflatable cat or a poorly functioning one. Still can't be sure.
 The highlight was for sure the sea lion exhibit. There is a tunnel under the water so you can check them out from all angles. They just move a little too fast for me to get a picture of a whole sea lion.
And finally a picture of an Ocelot. We didn't see one at the zoo, but they are very cool. I'll have to see the one at the Zoo in Seattle when I'm home next time.

A quick east coast edition

The east coast is nice. Well some parts seem to be at least. As a life long west coast resident this is my first trip to New Hampshire, so I thought I'd check out the coast. Oceans are pretty cool.
 
 
I even got a chance to run on the beach. The last time I ran anywhere was at close to 9000 feet. I'm pretty sure this one was slightly closer to sea level.
 
But the beach life was short lived. The race in Gloucester, Mass was well attended with most of the early fields selling out. Since we were set up right next to the start grid it was a bit crowded before each race.
 
Even with the crowds and work, you could still see the ocean. Pretty wonderful weekend.
 
And Caroline won.

Time flies

I was trying to figure out the last time I had done this blogging thing earlier today. Apparently it's been quite some time. A busy road season seems to have lead to a less than ideal number of posts. I'll do my best to get a few older posts together as the fall and winter wears on but for now I'm pressing on from here.
 

Cross season is upon us. After only a few days at home after the US Pro Challenge (perhaps a future blog post) I was off to Boulder, Vegas, and finally Madison where this photo was taken.
 
Inside the Raleigh-Clement compound James, the head mechanic, and I take care of a team of up to 6 cross racers.
 
Despite the fact we have fewer riders than the road team the workload is just as high.
 
 
Some things are a bit different though. For example since we are usually set up away from the hotel we sometimes have to stop along the way to get the vehicles washed. Pressure washers sure are nice for washing.
But some  things remain the same. After the  race last weekend in Madison we had to drive out to the east coast. Many states in the middle of the US seem to still be pretty excited about corn.
When we had some extra time, we even got to stop by Niagra Falls. I've been told the Canadian side is better, but the American side was at least pretty cool.
There was even a rainbow when it wasn't raining.
Some of the other tourists were prepared for rain. Didn't think I'd see a Seattle Sombrero so far from the Pacific Northwest.
Then again I didn't think I'd see people drinking Four Loko either. But hey, he's on vacation, right?
There were also a fair few of these signs. The cliffs to the falls drop off right on the other side of this railing.
I think maybe the signs could be removed and there would probably only be a few people who will weed themselves out because of that.
 
More news to come. Maybe not even in 6 months.

TOC

The Amgen Tour of California is one of the biggest damage races in the US. With bigger races comes bigger vehicles, in this case mainly an enormous RV.

Our compound before the day before the start in Sacramento.

Our neighbors were friendly enough.

But we were ready if things went bad.

Stage one started/finished around the Califormia capital. Here we took full advantage of the bike lane.

Once the riders had left for the start this guy took full advantage of these bike parking stands.

It was sunny and a bit windy in Sacramento.

People were out en masse to watch the start as well as the women's criterium to follow.

Some better prepared than others. (Can you count the flasks?)

But since I didn't have to ride in the car, I watched the race on TV.

A couple days later in Monteray soon to be extra famous cycling star Eloy Teruel signed a giant poster for a fan.

The Monteray to Cambria stage was fantastic. We spent most of the day cruising the PCH looking at the ocean.

Over a few bridges and up some hills.

And past the worlds luckiest cows.

Guy with very strong neck.

View from the back: one of the OPQS riders back for bottles from the car.

Possibly for this guy (2014 Roubaix winner)

In the caravan the front of the race seems a very long way away. Thankfully we can also watch the live stream.

After only a week of driving, washing, and tuning it was over. I guess time flys when you're having fun.

One Tour of California down. Hopefully more to come.

 

 

The post that was going to be titled Arkansas.

So I went to Arkansas for a bike race. Then tornados threatened the drive and I ended up being in Arkansas for about 8 hours. But these things happen. If you're curious about the highlights:

Ian Crane won the damn thing and JJ won the green jersey.

While that was happening I was somewhere in Oklahoma.

In Texas there was free steak.

In Albuquerque I found some riders. Fortunatley Eloy was not bothered by riding in a car with all available space filled.

Our hotel in silver city was delightful. There was even a pancake machine (not pictured).

So we set up the compound as usual.

 

I made the Silver City Sun Times.

And were joined by SRAM NRS (Neutral Race Support).

Hugo getting numbers on the bikes.

The smile may have been caused by our K3 number holders.

And as the sun sets work is all but done.

All of that work was made very sweet the next day. If you're wondering: yes they all talked the night before about what to wear and decided it would be best if they all were on the podium with the coordinated outfits.

Which did not keep anyone from being ready for the next day.

Often the amount of things we carry seems crazy. Why would you need so many stands? Staff ? Etc?

The answer is only that this is the before picture.

The after photo, I think, brings some perspective.

But the road is not all work. Sometimes we have a nice hotel cooked meal.

Sometimes we cross multi tools with old friends.

Sometimes we relax in the feed zone.

And sometimes you get to win. In this case the sprinters jersey courtesy of Luis Amaran.

Climbers jersey courtesy of Daniel Jaramillo.

Best young rider jersey courtesy of Daniel Jaramillo.

And the team GC courtesy of (L to R) Felix Fariña, Luis Amaran, Eloy Teruel, Daniel Jaramillo, Gregory Brenes, Rob Squire, Carson Miller, Tyler Wren, Matt Cooke, and Sebastian Alexandre.

And as you can imagine this left us with a few new clothes for our wardrobe.

Hopefully they can keep us warm at the Tour of Califormia.

 

Redlands Part 2: part 2

Now that Redlands has been over for several weeks lets try the second part of this post.

I am a big fan of the saying "work smarter, not harder"

Which I think means I need to get a chair for the pits. Make no mistake, this is hard work.

Our pre crit compound. Palm trees in the background and right on the course. Location, location, location.

And what day would be complete without evening out your tan. Hugo's lack of tan lines is very impressive to me, especially now that my farmers tan has been reinforced by two summers in a row.

Monday and Tuesday after Redlands a few of us hung around LA for a bit of bio mechanical testing. I opted to just watch.

The gym we were at Monday apparently is patronized in part by really large humans.

So we brought some really skinny, really fit guys.

To see how their fitness was going. (Spoiler alert: well)

But if things went south I had my escape pod located.

Tuesday was a little more bike specific with some aero testing at the LA velodrome.

Which is really really cool.

And rather steep.

.

But we learned some things.

And saw a guy doing a parody of an internet meme.

 

What more can you ask for?

Arkansas?

Ok.

 

Redlands part 2: part 1

The world, as previously mentioned, in my experience is not that large. Our hosts in Redlands proved to me that is still true.

For example their son sent them this jersey from when he rode for the Recycled Cycles team. Who knew? This is also a family that has been hosting the Jamis team and it's predecessors for the last 10 years.

There was a rumor there would be too much snow for the big bear TT. We decided to risk it. David used jazz hands to photobomb this one.

Turned out the risk of sunburn was higher than the risk of snow.

Pro tip: are you gellin'?

Prototype wheel block from cyclops. Bets version coming soon.

Disk wheels are in shortage of surface area. Thankfully some people are using them for good.

David and Felix filling bottles after dinner. These guys work hard.

Redlands at least gives us one day to try out the new caravan car.

I even saw some familiar faces in the caravan.

 

Training camp

After finishing up in Mexixo we headed straight to Tucson to meet up with the rest of the team for training cap. With our compressed schedule we had just a few short days to dial in positions and finish building the bikes before racing again over the weekend.

 

 

With 12 riders at camp we had quite a few bikes.

With still more to be finished.

Saw this guy on a daily basis. Didn't get a picture of the coyote that was chasing him though.

And once the road bikes were done we had a fleet of TT bikes to finish.

Pro tip from JJ: electrical tape as tire sweeper if you're getting too many flat in the southwest.

Pro tip 2: don't use a broken tent.

It rained the first race day in Arizona. Our director made us raincoats.

There was also some time to check out local plant life.

2014 Jamis team. This is only the beginning.

 

Mexico: part 2

The end of the Mexico trip was plagued by sickness (mine and others) as well as the crazyness that seems to be trying to race bikes in Mexico.

Our accommodations also seemingly improved for a few days.

And included great views. There were only two surprises about this hotel.

1) it was a holiday inn

And 2) if you consumed any of the water you were likely to get typhoid fever.

The hotel is currently being investigated.

This hill was early in the 6 hour day three stage. It was also one of the more interesting things I saw out if the car while I was trying not to vomit.

Or trying to fill bottles as we went since when riding for 6 hours in 85 degree heat the riders seemed to be thirsty.

Some spectators had a better view than others.

It also seemed like every school along our route had their students lining the street in uniform to here on the riders.

Resting in the shade before stage 4.

I also noticed a lot of billboards that seemed to have phone numbers but no other information. Not sure how you decide which number to call.

This is a guy with a hose. I think his job is to spray water on stuff. I found it very humorous.

Either this person is a bubble wrap delivery specialist or they are concerned for their safety.

Mexico city, from our hotel downtown.

Daniel eventually dropped this guy on our way back to the hotel after stage 5.

The scene before we stared the last stage. Since it was a loop around a couple of long city blocks the streets were lined with people watching. Not a very interesting stage but a great backdrop. It was a very calm way to end a hectic week.

Afterwards myself and Zach from the 5 hour Energy team took a quick spin back the hotel.

Because even when the race is over there is always more work to be done.

 

Mexico! Part 1

And we're racing! After 10 days in Southern California, I headed south to Mexico City for the 6 stage Vuelta Mexico. This was not without its difficulties. For example:

Our flight leaving LAX at 6am. Also the fact that we had a bit of luggage.

Which all arrived safely in Mexico. However with 8 riders and all the trimmings checking bags and going through customs was a bit of a lengthy process.

But we felt instantly at home.

We did have an off day before the first stage so there was time for bike riding.

Despite the protest that happened to go by the front of the hotel.

 

And an off day is fundamentally different from a day off.

I got some tires ready.

Washed some bikes.

We sadly didn't get to use this hose. (Foot included for scale)

But the bikes still turned out well.

Backdrop for the start of stage one in the center of Mexico City.

Featuring the church and this enormous Mexican flag.

And the pelaton rolls out.

 

More from south of the border soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm back!

I'm back in the US after a great send off from New Zealand.

Thanks to the iRide crew and the country of New Zealand for playing host to me for several months. It was grand.

And I'm back on the road.

Currently in beautiful Costa Mesa California, home of Jamis bikes west coast offices. Also home to the La Qunita inn which, has been my home for the last 10 days, and hooters. Which is hooters.

When I arrived there was a fair amount of work to be done. You could almost make out the Jamis logo behind this part of our parts order.

Lots of work means occasionally taking your work home with you. The maids were not quite sure what to make of this when they came by to clean my room.

I also managed to make a huge mess all over the place. In addition to the Jamis show room and my hotel room I also took over the loading dock for an afternoon to glue some tires.

And among all the new stuff there were even some goodies for the mechanics. A big thank you to Feedback Sports for hooking us up with new stands for the season. If you're in the market: these are the stands to have.

A bit of the finished product.

And the riders who are coming in tonight should have no question about who's bed is who's.

 

Off to Mexico City for Vuelta Mexico in a couple of days. More blogging to follow.

 

 

 

 

South Island party!

Fair warning: this post is long. It covers Boxing Day through the 10th of January. Good luck.

The hostel I stayed at in Picton on Christmas night was big on towel sculptures.

Boxing Day started with this sign. The plan was to hitchhike to Nelson. So I started walking with my thumb out.

After an early success in getting to Blenheim I found myself in the middle of wine country.

A few kilometers later I was picked up by a very nice family who said they could take my to Nelson, we would just have to stop for lunch first.

After a nice lunch we made it to Nelson. My friend Jay came and gave me a lift out to Motueka, which is a little way outside of Nelson. It looks about like this.

Jay showing off his impressive selfie taking ability.

Big beach outside of Motuika.

After about a day of relaxing on the beach it was time to proceed south again. Since the fortunes were ever in my favor I was able to catch a ride with Kirk (from iRide) and his friend Dylan south to Hokitika and then on to Wanaka. This would be a good chance to cover some distance and see the west coast of the South Island.

There are lots of mountains, rivers, glaciers, and other stuff like that.

Some grass.

More beach.

And lots of sun.

And since I couldn't resist: tourists taking pictures with their iPads.

Saw this a little outside of Wanaka. Not sure who Eric Corff is, but I'm still partial to the sticker.

On the shore of Lake Wanaka.

 

This area of the South Island is know for excellent hiking, so we had to get outside at least a little. New Year's Eve Gavin and I hiked up a hill a bit outside of town to get a better look at things.

A higher view of the lake.

The view from the top. More of the valley, with more lakes in the background.

Despite what it looks like Gavin is not taking sneaky pictures of lions. There are relatively few lions here it seems.

After a pretty long hike, we celebrated New Years right. Full meal including several veggies.

 

At the start of 2014 I wasn't exactly sure how to spend my last week of vacation. One of the people I met along the way mentioned heading out to Milford Sound, part of the fiordland of southwest New Zealand. So after a quick night in Queenstown I made my way to Milford. Which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

It more or less looks like this. There are 4 permanent waterfalls along the sound.

They are quite large.

However on rainy days, including when I was there, about 1000 more spring up.

They are everywhere.

Everywhere!

At the end of the sound you get to the Tasman Sea (aka the ocean) and I was assured that Australia was only about 1800km out there. I've approximated it's location above.

Despite the cold and wet it was still all smiles amongst the tourists on the boat.

Afterwards I returned to Queenstown for a day of hiking another big hill. Rain would not stop me.

I had always thought the movie " a river runs through it" was about fishing. Apparently it was about this trail I was walking up.

Real wet.

 

And then it started snowing towards the top.

This hike was billed as "difficult but worth it for the views at the top". This was totally accurate. The view I got if the inside of that cloud was priceless.

Fortunatley the view a little farther down also included some more lake.

 

As I write this I'm in Christchurch the day before my flight back to Wellington.

The earthquake damage from 2010 and 2011 is still very much visible, but it seems like things are improving. Even if the construction is far from complete.

All of which can be viewed comfortably from atop your Segway.

Congrats if you've made it this far. I guess almost three weeks of vacation leads to a rather long post.

 

Yesterday

Yesterday was Saturday in this part of the world. The be exact it was Saturday December 14th. This was made great by the fact it looked like this:

That bottle you can see in the corner of the shot, that's SUNSCREEN! It was like a great San Diego day, warm, sunny, and breezy.

And with no shortage of meat. BBQ in December is grand.

The local booze hounds were hanging around outside of the brewery down the street from my house.

 

And nachos here are regularly made with Doritos.

Basically it was a great Saturday. I have high hopes of a few more of these before returning to springtime at home.