Monday, October 13, 2008

East Coast Envoy Check in

Break’er 1-9 This here’s Ted Cituk checking in from the road.

September has been a month full of showing Thule products to the most diverse crowds of people I have seen on my Envoy adventure.

We started September by being the top sponsor of the 1st annual NECKS “north east canoe and kayak symposium” the event had an excellent location and fairly good weather even though there was a guest visit by the remnants of hurricane IKE. IKE even hung out long enough to take a good look at the Hullavator and Hullaport-Pro and was very impressed with there functionality and quality.

Next it was off to the Hershey RV show in Hershey PA. This week long show had a good turnout of interesting people and there were plenty of exhibitors to keep them busy. The SMART RV system was a great hit with everyone, the Sink and Trash Bin were by far the most popular, but the LCD TV Post was not far behind with its growing following of Race fans, now happy they could now watch the races while outside.

As the September heat kept me thinking it was summer, I figured I might as well head south and prolong the summer as long as possible. I met up with Shawn Keenan in Orlando and we got to attend a Chrysler dealer conference where we introduced the Thule brand to the Chrysler dealers in attendance. The response was well received, as most of the dealers already knew the Thule name and were now excited that they could offer Thule branded racks and boxes directly to their customers as they get their new cars.

Finishing out this trip, the trusty Dodge and I stopped by Perry, FL to visit UWS. We were welcomed with wonderful southern hospitality and the aroma of what I can only describe as the best Thanksgiving dinner ever. After an informative tour of the UWS facilities, I said my goodbyes and pointed the Dodge north, before I gave into the temptation of a second lunch that day.

I’m off to Atlanta to wait in line for Gas, until next time


AC End of Season What-Not

For being the alleged end of the season I’ve been pretty busy the last couple weeks. Working on the Rally Car, racing a bit of Cyclocross, some gravity racing, some fun bike rides, riding motorized bikes, kicking it at the White House, you know, usual stuff…

First off I suppose bike racing is our main interest so I’ll make some comments on Cyclocross. It’s fun. It’s also another couple months of racing. The fun to extra travel ratio seems a bit off this fall so I’ve set up a very simple rule to govern my ‘Cross racing exploits. I only race under the lights. That’s right, if your ‘Cross race happens during the day I can’t be bothered to partake in 2008. This rule was strictly adhered to a couple weekends ago in Seattle when I raced the Star Crossed event Saturday night, then, instead of racing under “the sun” in Tacoma the next day at another UCI event (which I’ve won in the past) I drove past on my way to some proper baggy short mountain biking at Post Canyon. Doing shuttle runs with old friends and hitting a bunch of sweet jumps was way more fun than a 100-meter run-up… Although we did take some time out for a quick, sketchy, hike-a-bike to Mitchell point for a doughnut and scenery break. And, as a double bonus, I ran into the Penningtons in Hood River, which may not mean much to my average reader, but know that, as legends in my own mind, IT SHOULD! Ah, but back to Star Crossed. It rained. And I took the scenic route to get there. Friday evening cruise on the MacKenzie River Trail on the way to a N.E.R.D and Common show in Eugene. Not quite content with my ADD, I then rode 2 hours of rad singletrack on the Souixon Creek trail as a pit stop during my drive up to Seattle Saturday afternoon. That trail is all time. As opposed to a bunch of other trails in the NW, or anywhere for that matter… Right, Star Crossed. We raced. It was SLICK. There was a beer garden. I rode kind of fast, even tried to win a little bit. Then fell down on the (not surprisingly) slick Velodrome and got dropped. Oh well, I jumped the barriers on the last lap, much to the delight of the adjacent Beer Garden, on my way to fourth place and one of the most comprehensive Chamgagne dousings in recent memory…

Three Days later I found myself at the start line of the only other Twilight ‘Cross event in the Country. CrossVegas. After two days of Interbike wandering around and not exactly taking care of my body it felt kind of good to be racing around in front of approximately a Brazillian well-lubricated fans. Thanks, Dale’s Pale Ale (as handed off by ‘Cross Crusade promoter Brad Ross, who didn’t have much luck getting Lance’s attention for the same prep) for the refreshing start line beverage and turning the fans up to Eleven… Man, it pains me to describe this race other than two parts. One, I penned a new race tactic. It’s called the “Attack and Stack”. For those situations where it’s obviously a waste of energy to try and solo away from arguably the strongest lead group assembled in an American ‘Cross race, the AnS is the perfect option. To keep from looking like a sissy for just sitting in, you drill it for about 20 seconds and a few corners, getting a workable gap. Then, as a direct result of coming into the (totally cleanable) barriers about 10 mph faster than the previous laps on account of “attacking”, you mistime the second bunnyhop and case barrier #2. This puts you on course for a spectacular nose wheelie and slow-motion over the bars excursion that allows you to just be picking yourself up when the lead group catches you. Perfect, now go back to sitting on the back of the group saving energy for the last lap, when it counts. Which is boring, yet effective. The other highlight, which could be considered a low point depending on your view of “smart” racing, was riding out of said lead group on the last lap in an attempt to bridge across to Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebron, who were in the process of winning. I almost made it, third to Ryan’s convincingly powerful win. So, smart racing yields good results. Lame. Ending a beer-sponsored race at 10:30pm is a great springboard for a night of Vegas-style debauchery though…

So, every year I come up with some kind of excuse to leave Vegas ASAP. This year it was that I needed to get home in time to prep my Downhill Bike for the last event in the Fluidride Cup series at Mount Hood Ski Bowl. And have a culturally diverse Friday evening including a theatrical performance of “Driving Miss Daisy” and a Sweatshop Union Concert. The bike got prepped (thanks, Fitzy, for the Fox 40) and we made it to the shows on time. Unfortunately, this led to a late morning and just enough time for two DH practice runs before Slalom started at 3 on Saturday afternoon. Two runs was enough for me to determine I ride downhill like a small child and have similar arm strength as when I was 11 and jumping the flower garden in our yard. Good proper old school slalom was right up my alley though. About a dozen pros and twice that many amateurs ended DH practice early in favor of a little good old-fashioned gated racing. The track was mostly flat turns with a few teeny little jumps for good measure. I qualified middle of the pack and had my first round up against Phil, a burly looking Downhiller from Portland. Somehow I kept ahead of him in both runs which put me up against Lars Sternberg in the round of four. In addition to writing how-to articles in Decline, Lars rides for the Fluidride Skills School and definitely has some. He housed me in the first run by a 1.0 second margin. There are two runs to each round though, one each on the red and blue courses and I had the faster red in run two. I pushed hard and Lars made a few mistakes over the course of 30 seconds. I ended up winning the second run but only by 0.6 sec so Lars, undefeated thus far in Fluidride slalom, was able to advance. He won the finals and I won the consolation round for third. $20. Sweet.

If only a night of camping down by the creek had turned me into a badass downhiller I might not have gotten smoked by fifteen or so Northwesterners who are way less scared of rock gardens. And might have stood a tiny chance of making Luke Strobel nervous about our gentlemanly bet in Australia a few weeks back… The race was run in best of two runs format. I was cleanish on the first one and did a 2:36. 44 year old Bart McDaniel did a 2:17. What’s that, 10% faster? Dang. Second run I actually jumped a few things, but probably blew a few others to turn a 2:35. Bart’s time stood for the win. Dowhnill racing is fun. We need some rocks in Bend or I need to remember my teenage years of east coast DH charging so I can start riding kind of fast. I met up with the boys from Hutch’s Bike Shop in Bend who were up shuttling from Timberline for a super fun bomb run down the Glade Trail in the afternoon and generally re-confirmed that regardless of all this Olympic World Cup seriousness, riding bikes is a damn good time.

We’re getting a bit long-winded here, so a few more anecdotes and I’m going to go for a ride or do something outside here in Maine where it’s a beautiful fall day. I’m here because the US Olympic Committee invited us to the White House for a little meet and greet with the President and it seemed like a Maine stopover was in order. That’s right, Mary Mcconnelaug, about 300 other Olympians and I got to stand on the back porch and south lawn while Bush gave a speech about our Great Olympic Team and the future of American Physical Fitness. Somehow Mary and I ended up about one row behind the Prez while he spoke which set her up perfectly for her plan to hand him a signed copy of a Seven Cycles catalog. He was visibly stoked to talk to us MTB’ers. Turns out our leader had ridden the Olympic Course and was impressed that we were able to ride it all without stopping, let alone race. So, regardless of our current international and economic situation, W likes bikes. Hopefully this means some eleventh hour appointments in favor of IMBA and Forest Service support for trails. Bikes are fun after all… Then we got the White House tour. Nice place.

Our buddy of Offroad to Athens production fame, Jason Berry, rescued us from a ride on the puke-bus and five hours of sitting at Dulles Airport after the White House. Instead he picked us up at the east gate and took us for a mountain bike ride at Great Falls park. That’s my idea of a travel day afternoon. Singletrack and waterfall scouting. Perfect. Thanks, Jason.

What else? Um, we’ve been riding dirt bikes on perfect dirt. That’s fun. I rode bikes in the first snow of the year in the Cascades on Saturday. Cold, but fun and exciting. Carl and whoever he can get to help have been working on the Rally Car in earnest. We dropped the new (300hp) STI engine in on Sunday at about midnight. That’s the last heavy job in our quest for a FAST Open Class car to race at the Mt. Hood Rally next weekend in Oregon. Now Carl just has to figure out where a few thousand wires go, get some driveshafts made and solve a bunch of other unforeseen problems so we can go racing. I get home on Monday so that leaves approximately 180 man hours before we have to head up to the Gorge for Recce on Friday. I think we’ve got it.

It being the end of the season and all, I don’t have many interesting photos from the last couple weeks, but you can go to these fine websites to find video footage from the Fluidride Cup Slalom and Vegas Cyclocross…

But before you go looking at racing movies, head over to PinnedMTB and buy a raffle ticket to the Tara Llanes Fundraiser! I just sent them a signed 2008 Olympic Jersey and the pair of Smith Serpicos that I wore for that race in Beijing. You can bid on that business in their Ebay auction… Tara is amazingly tough, but she’s not rich. Help a sista’ out!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Team Giant Report, Beijing Olympic Games

The Olympic Games. A big deal. Once every four years random little sports like the one I have such a good time partaking in get a chance to explode onto our World’s Grand Stage. But, in order to explode properly, you need a medal. I’d spent the last eight months preparing for just that. I figured I had it in me if all the chips fell correctly. Which they rarely do. And they didn’t. It’s not important how or why they fell the way they did, we’ll just say I made a rookie mistake that was compounded by not having magic legs anyway.

For me personally, if the worst thing that ever happens to me is that I get 29th place the Olympic Games (one lap down on our consummate champion, Julien Absalon), things have worked out pretty well… For American Mountain Biking though, I was really hoping to pull one out on this grand stage and get everyone fired up on riding in the woods. Seems like some hardware and a Today Show bonanza like the one BMX Bronze Medalist Jill Kitner is embarking on would have gone a long way to getting people down to their local bike shop and out riding all the rad trails IMBA and local clubs have been putting together over the years. Ah, what the hell, I guess people will just have to figure it out themselves. Or start racing BMX so they can eventually figure out how to ride trails as beautifully as Ross Schnell.

The overall “Games Experience” was pretty awesome though… If a bit hard to soak in during the four short days we spent in the village. We agreed, as the US Mountain Bike Team, to train in Korea to avoid the possibility of challenging training conditions and poor air quality in Beijing. Turns out that, through a combination of aggressive pollutant control and natural rainfall, the air was fine. And Mike Broderick found some good riding in the “Fragrant Hills” just west of the city, so we could realistically have just come to the Olympic Village a week out and done our prep here. It would have been hard to avoid going to a bunch of events, hanging out in the dining hall and International Zone and generally doing a bunch of random cool stuff at the biggest sporting event in the universe. So, our plan was good, if a bit short on culture…

Trek’s Chinese front-man, Todd McKean, came through huge for the Americans without even being asked. He had the foresight to open a Trek Shop on the corner just outside Laoshan park. He also had the foresight to make a work area available for our Mechanics and set up a lounge with showers and couches in addition to a downstairs mingling lounge where we could invite our Families in for a cool beverage and take a load of. It was perfect. We can’t thank Todd enough for this service, it made the weekend so much easier and more pleanant.

So, we had all the pieces, all we had to do was put the puzzle together. The Ladies rode smart races and ended up with solid results to show for it. 7th and 8th for Mary and Georgia. Putting the pieces together is where us guys came up short. It just wasn’t Todd’s day, or mine. Too bad the Olympics weren’t in Bromont or Mont St. Anne. And I think that’s just it, I’ll always race better in a relaxed, fun environment, without the hopes of Americans riding bikes in the woods on my shoulders. Sorry for that…

Thanks for all the help along the way though, maybe I’ll figure out a few things in the next four years and get some inspiration together in Longon…

Oh, and a bit more homework, if you like reading about our Rally exploits…

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Break’er 1-9... This here’s East Envoy, Ted Cituk checkin’ in from the road.

The July heat has been doin it’s best to slow the Thule rig down, but a little heat can’t stop the trusty Dodge from spreading the Thule name, and getting to events up and down the East coast.

After a long weekend over the 4th of July I got rolling “luckily with all my fingers still attached” north on 95 back to CT where I again attended the Griskus Tri at Quassy Amusement park, but this time it was even bigger than the last time, and we had many folks from Thule racing in the Tri as part of a team or solo for the more die hard racers. The tri got under way around 6pm giving the racers a break from the heat of the day, and the looming thunderstorms passed to the south avoiding the race all together. After the last racer crossed the line and every one finished their after race recovery brew, I turned the Thule rig west and headed towards Windham, NY for the East Coast NORBA nationals at Windham Mountain Ski Area.

This was the first time a NORBA race was held at Windham Mountain, and not only was the weather cooperating, but everyone was raving about the race courses and how wonderful the race courses were designed. I spent the long weekend making small parts available to all the Thule racks that had parts go missing over their years of service hauling bikes.

Turning south out of the Northern Catskills and the town of Windham, I headed back to CT to attend the Thule Sales Meeting, which many of you attended, so I will not bore you with any of my “witty” commentary and get right to the highlight event of the month “Kenda Bikefest”.

To finish off July, I kidnapped Chris Moor “Left Coast Envoy” after the sales meeting and headed the trusty Dodge to Jiminy Peak, Home of the Kenda Bikefest. This mountain biking weekend, was full of adventure for Chris and I, from 4 wheelin the truck and trailer to get into the event to watching a car with a SARIS rack have its bikes removed by a low hanging Kenda banner on the last day of the event. But even with all the other excitement the highlight of Kenda Bikefest had to be the Thule Mud Bog, where daring souls tried to make it the farthest though the shoe eating mud pit “from my count at least two pair of flip-flops and a pair of Croc’s were devoured by the mud” trying to get farther than anyone else and claim the grand prize “a complete Thule rack for their car”. There was some fierce competition in the heads up final, but every competitor played to the crowds wishes and ended their runs with some kind of improv mud bog belly-flop at the end. There was even a kid’s category, so all the little bikers had a chance to play in the mud as well.

Well I’m off to clean the mud from the Thule truck, and head north to visit out northern neighbors in Canada.

10-4 Over and out

Deer Valley to Downieville

After Deer Valley Utah JJ and I headed to one of the best events we have ever been to, the Downieville Classic. Wow, this town has a great story behind it. First of all, Downieville is in the middle of no-where California. It is nestled in the heart of the Sierra Mountains. Hard to believe Downieville was once the capital of CA during the gold rush and also had a population of over 10,000 people. It’s stunning how the event can bring 10 times the population of the town in a single day. The three restaurants and one small grocery store make a killing I am sure. This event is very important to the folks of this small town.

Thule had prime real estate at this event. I was the only trailer allowed on Main Street. Wayno, the event coordinator, placed me in front of the fire station and used the trailer for the sound stage and lighting for the band that played Saturday night. I never have seen more T2’s in one place than Downieville. It will be a must for the schedule for next year.

Oh, the trails were some of the best I have ever ridden too!!

Check it out!!

Next, I hopped on a plane and headed East for the office……… was great to see everyone!!

Trucker Ted and I kept pretty busy with the sales meeting all week. Then Ted and I headed to northwest Mass to another very worth while event for the weekend, Kenda Bike Fest.

Over three thousand people showed up even after it rained three to five inches the day before the event started.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Breaker 1-9 This is Ted Cituk checking in from the road.

Month number two out here was again full of miles for the Thule truck and I. We rolled along the highways of the north east traveling from event to event tryin to keep the Smokey’s off our tail along the way.

We started off by heading the truck towards Boston to attend a regional REI kayak event at Cochituate State Park. The weather in Boston that weekend was agreeing with us a little too much, we had beautiful sunny weather with temps in the mid 90’s and humidity about the same so it was anybody’s guess how the turnout would be. Luckily the paddlers were not afraid of a little heat and the event had quite a large turnout.

After the heat wave was over we rolled back to CT to attend the Pat Griskus Olympic distance Triathlon at Quassy Amusement Park. With the starting time for the race early in the morning the 400 or so athletes that competed and an equal number of spectators beat the heat of the day during most of the event.

It was then time to roll the truck north again, this time heading to a place that is “the way life should be” Maine to attend LL Beans annual kayak sale. Much cooler temperatures and rain showers plagued the LL Bean Kayak sale, but it didn’t keep record numbers of paddlers from attending the event. They kept us busy all three days of the sale turning plastic wing nuts and then adding their empty Thule boxes to the pile that grew in the parking lot each day. Scott Finlayson “of the Stoner-Andrews rep group” even showed us his talents with a cordless drill, helping two fellow Mainers out with his handy work installing TK14’s on their cars so they could get their boats home. LL Bean also offered a free concert Friday night featuring Big Bad Voodoo Daddy to keep the crowds entertained.

That’s all for this haul 10-4 over and out.

WEST COAST ENVOY – Chris Moon Tales from the west coast asphalt.

This months road trip has been a full on dealer assault. I started out visiting shops in Bend, OR (home) and continued east visiting all the shops in Boise, Ketchum, Twin falls and Pocatella, Idaho. JJ and I then headed south to visit Utah for the Deer Valley National Mountain bike race. Before the weekend of the race I headed toward Logan, Utah to help Al's Sporting goods with a huge sale they had. Then off to my buddy Dave Klopp's (Utah/Wyoming rep) house near Park City to plan dealer visits for the week.

JJ and I toured all over the greater Salt Lake City area. Didn't matter how small a dealer Thule gave them all some love. We went to SLC, Ogden, Kaysville, Wood cross, Murray, Midvale, Sandy, and Draper just to name a few.

The Nationals are coming up this weekend should be a good race.

I would like to let you all know that a one of our Thule Athlete's- Adam Craig who races cross-country for Giant bicycles has made the Olympic team and will race in Beijing this August. Good luck to Adam!!