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.