Robert breaks down some stories from the road in the FIB Cycling team Sprinter van, giving out awards to the team for certain "accolades"
Full Disclosure: Per usual, I got a lot of help with the leadout of this post but I'll take all the credit, because why not? The secret is you have to kickstart the conversation, just like in The Van.
"Did someone say... snack break..?"
This will surely get the guys riled up and you can sit back and savor the victory. Was everyone else thinking it? Probably. But who's taking the credit? Me - Stroker.
When I was asked to provide some perspective on the team I immediately thought of The Van because we have put some HOURS together in the aptly named Dodge "Sprinter." People outside the team love asking how frequently the members of FIB cycling ride together as teammates:
"You guys must meet in Richmond, Indiana, probably like every weekend!!! It's a central location to the Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio guys!!!"
No..our team RARELY rides together. We do drive together though, and we happen to stumble upon some races where we go around in the same costume - that's it. No, we don't ride together, do you know how insane you sound Aunt Janice? We are cat1 drivers, who happen to get out and race bikes sometimes.
We are cat1 drivers, who happen to get out and race bikes sometimes.
Recently we have had some lengthy drives that included sight-seeing the Grand Canyon, exploring the Colorado River, and completing the Holy Trinity of the Highway: visiting Chick-Fil-A, SmashBurger, and Steak n Shake all in the same day. Granted, they were spread across some time zones and naps, but still, that was a day to remember. Oh yeah, I guess we also did some bike races in between our driving.
I am positive I have experienced every emotion in the 3rd row of The Van: fear, triumph, bonking, and everything in between. It might be the way the floorboards creak in the back, the lack of air conditioning past the 2nd row, or just the way your voice is lost amongst the swish of the pee jugs, but it really gives you some time to think...What am I doing with my life that I've ended up back here?
With that said, I've come up with some of my favorite (least favorite?) memories from all this time in the fan. Here they are - the podium places that have been accumulated in The Van, dubbed:
The Top 3 from Row 3:
Let's learn about the players!
Top3 Smelliest in The Van:
Jack McCann. An overwhelming favorite with an overwhelming scent. Jack isn't allowed to ride anywhere but the back (just like in the peloton) because the A/C or wind will disperse the odor downstream. No one wants that. Can't take the heat? Get out of the kitchen.
Becker's Used Cycling Gear. I would tell you to watch your step, but this aroma will have you treading lightly.
The Communal Pee Jug. Hey, how are we gonna make up all that time from the snack stops?
Top3 Messiest in the Van:
John Becker. See above. The ongoing joke is "everyone take one piece of Becker's trash on your way out!" (Let it be known, I made that joke first.)
Top3 Best Bike Loaders:
Stroker. If there is no rush, it is no problem. I have the patience, stamina, and bladder of a 74 year old Tai Chi master. I'm not going to toot my own horn too much, but this certain set of skills comes in handy threading the thru-axle's of eight different rigs. If you get me in the bike loading mode, with complete silence and without distractions, we could be well on our way to the next race within 40-45 minutes.
Jack McDongle. In a rush? Need to get out of a venue quickly for leaving an unrelenting smell in the air? Don't mind if a few of your bolts are stripped when you get home? I know just your man.
Kurt Alberts. Consistency is King, and when you have been putting bike-loading numbers on the board for as long as I've been alive, you deserve a podium position. This dad-strength also comes in handy knocking out CrossFit workouts & undoing pickle jars.
Top3 Biggest All-Time Driving Pulls:
Ryan Knapp. Navigating through the Fayetteville Senior Citizens of Wal-Mart without losing his temper too much was one of the more impressive 90-second drives I can remember. Sometimes it's not the length of the pull, but the precision.
Ben Schmuddy. We had a pretty epic haul home from Anniston, Alabama one Sunday evening. North of Knoxville on i75, Benny had her on two wheels, everyone leaning the opposite way to try and give us some traction, just hoping Emma would snap him back and he'd chill out. There is the off-chance you can catch some sleep if the mouth-running goes dry after a tough weekend, but this was NOT one of those cases.
Jairey OldHam. Tulsa 2017. It hurts me to even type this one out as I've tried to bury this one deep in the melted summer-brain. It was just so hot. Somehow there were only 3 men left standing for this drive (technically a 'race weekend' to break up our drive) after the New Guy Jarret handed out the Swine Flu at Glencoe the prior weekend. I was sipping NyQuil on the way to the rendezvous point in STL thinking the worst had passed. The worst had not passed. I remember handing The Van Key to Jarret and saying "no cruise control, good luck! I'll be in row 3 trying to sleep, McD will be in row 2 trying to not get dumped by his girlfriend. Tell me when we get there, New Guy." Sure enough, I came out of the fog just in time for a dangerous, night time crit. Wohoooo... Now that was a pull, Brother.
Top3 People to Sit Next to in The Van:
Paul Martin. This might be more a testament to Lisa's Laundry Tactics, but the man smells FRESH. People have literally come up to me after races and said they knew Paul was launching an attack: Not because he's always attacking, not because there was distinct CLINK from the 12 tooth to the 11 tooth cog, but because they could smell a certain 185 pound Tide Pod ripping past them at max velocity. Also, Paul has some good stories and economic advice if you are into that sort of thing.
Chris UBER-ti. Dude started off wearing a small helmet at Purdue as a lowly undergrad. Now, 14 degrees later, he is repping an extra large helmet! You do the Maths. If you need help with your homework, he'll take that stem down three spacers and flip it to a -17° in no time. If you want to get your brain as buff as your quads, talk to Chris. If you are wondering if you can pull off a skintight t-shirt for casual wear, talk to Chris. For being hard-wired as an engineer, Chris can turn down the nerdiness quicker than he can turn down that stem angle.
Steve Bassett. His bucket hat casts a nice shadow over you to keep that core temperature nice and low on those hot summer days. And who's to say I don't enjoy the occasional corny joke?