I'm proud of that title; even if it is a little crude. My 'cross nats adventure is over, as is my 24 hour journey south. I won't bore you with the details but it wasn't fun. The race report from nationals will be on the tt1 website soon (while you're there why not equip yourself in style with the finest of lime green foppery; you too can look like the Grinch this festive season).
Bend was a pretty cool town. I very much appreciated the lack of chain stores in the downtown area and the preponderance of coffee choices. I was fortunate enough to be staying with a fantastic host family in a palacial dwelling about 8 miles out of town. This meant I could happily ride into town on my 'cross bike as a handy warm up for some 'crossing about in the mud. On the Monday after my race I got to chill out downtown which was great; I can recommend Bend Mountain coffee if you're ever in town. I love a coffee shop where the owner knows the names of his regulars, where you can rely on your coffee being ready for you without having to give the order, where you're welcome as a friend and not as a customer. The same thing applies ot the cycling industry. Some of the larger brands in our sport have been engaging in what is, in my opinion, pretty unsavoury business practice towards local shops. Carrying one brand in particular leads to almost total saturation with a product range that; while perfectly passable has many rivals of equal or greater merit which are unrepresented. At the very least some variety would be nice, you don't WANT the same bike as everyone else, especially when it's black. Your local bike shop should be somewhere to go for advice and you have every right to expect them to recommend products regardless of the brand on those products. They, in return have the right to rely on the relationship which you have with them to bring business. When your local shop starts stocking and selling a single brand, you might as well shop online. Think about the added value you receive from bantering with the mechanics, the countless hours every week that get spent tightening bolts and pumping tyres for free. Think about the first time you got 10% off without asking. So don't let your local bike shop become a starbucks get your arse (and your wallet) down there and buy your presents from real people, before we start using pretend Italian terms to describe our frame sizes!
I'm in an airport on my way back to blighty, ready for some real winter training in the proper cold weather. Judging by my parents reports it's unrideable but my parents have a rather different outlook on such matters. Just like my bike shop point above one of the things I love about being home is the comfort of fitting in absoloutley. Nobody remarks on my pronunciation, my spelling, the brakes on my bike being backwards or my refusal to call porridge "oatmeal". The cycling community around where I grew up has always been great to me and I look forward to cruising out on the "antiques roadshow" rides which stop for cider in the summer and tea in the winter. I love the conversations that pick up every 6 months and the friendships-cum-rivalries which only grow stronger with absence. I'm not a big fan of the bloody snow though, or sitting in Dallas fort worth airport! I'm scoping out the other passengers right now; there are some proper whoppers. If I land a king sized neighbour I will not be a happy camper; I've slept 8 hours in the last 48 and all I want to do is close my eyes.
Here's another list to brighten up your day ( I know how you look forward to these)
5 food combos to to try before crimbo:
Chevre get the soft one; put in on toast (walnut raisin bread if you have it) with honey, eat, ride.
Feta, watermelon, mint (salad enhancer par excellence)
Seeds in salad (seems I'm late to the party with this one)
The poor man's mocha (get a coffee, add the chocolate powder, sweetener and milk yourself. For ultimate cheapo credit, get it WITHOUT room for cream, then drink some THEN affect mocha marvelousness)
Lovely goat teas + stevia. Manorexic beverage of choice, I'll throw it in a bidon and go out to brave the cold (all kinds of good blends, stay healthy, stay warm AND reuse the tin to wrap your presents in)
And finally some questions: can someone please explain the following to me? They're bothering me immensely: flaxseeds, half-caf coffee, "American" cheese (apart from as a night-time visibility aid), treaded road tyres, hammer perpetum solids.