Saturday, 22 September 2012

my friends have my back

If you take a look at the back of any cycling jersey you'll see any mumber of logos, slogans and advertisements. For most riders these are an attempt to look professional, they'll even make an effort to tell you they're "sponsored" thanks to their access to cost +10% "bro deal" pricing and will harp on about the quality of thier "sponsors" products. For other's they're straight up attempts to look cool, i wonder how many people actually can speak with some degree of knowledge about the quick step range of flooring products which they are unconsciously a mobile billboard for? For a small percentage these logos represent an effort by the firms behind the logos to advertise a brand by association with a team or individual.

In the latter situation i'm pretty sure I represent a sub-optimal branding opportunity being not particulairly fast, somewhat divisive in my opinions, really quite unwilling to supress my opinions and quite liberal with the adult language. Oh and while we're at it i've got scruffy hair and I didn't get it cut for interbike. And sometimes i don't realise that there is peanutt butter in my beard.

Given my ability to spread my breakfast all over my facial hair,a long with my manifest other failings it is little short of astonishing that i have, somehow managed to assemble the coolest team of friends to help me ride bikes, have fun, do good and take insulin. This only really occured ot me at interbike this year. Sure, being inside an air conditioned room is pretty rubbish, and nobody likes subsisting on energy product for 3 days (but it is marginally preferable to paying $15 for a frankly cat 5 sandwich) but aside from that i genuinely enjoy interbike. Getting to hang out with the guys who help me each year is a privelege, i get to say thank you for the support they give and we get to make plans for global domination in 2012.

When i'm twittering about hanging out on a booth, or posting pictures of a cool new product it's not because anyone pays me to or because i think i genuinely have any real ability to influence sales of said product it's because i really think that said trinket or bicycle bit is worth sharing. I also believe that anyone who is willing to tolerate my manifest unprofessionalism is worth keeping around.

Over the last three days i have been pitching a project with type 2 diabetics, on which there will be more news very soon, to many of my sponsors. What really made me realize how cool these guys are is that not one of them refused to step up and give me a hand with what i'm proposing to do. This is a pretty good illustration that these guys are genuine, i'm not proposing ROI or exposure to cycling enthusiasts but they're sold on doing good and helping to make a difference. That's when sponsorship ceases to be the salient term, these guys who are willing to support my efforts to help people who need help aren't approaching this as sponsors but as friends, as people who've spent enough time with me by now to see the trials and tribulations of diabetes, to know that it isn't always easy and to understand how much it means to me. The fact that they've seen this, that diabetes has become personal and real to them, and that they want to help me make people's diabetes lives better makes the collection of people i'm working with pretty special. Many of them also provided me with beer, coffee and chocolate at appropriate times last week, which is enough on its own to win my eternal affection.


For your viewing pleasure here is a picture (from 1904photogrpahy.com) of my back, if i was not busy riding a biek down a hill trying to catch someone who had ridden up said hill marginally faster, you would be able to see some logos. Those logos would be from my friends at Tifosi optics, extreme endurance, Shimano USA, Blackburn, Sockguy,Michelin, Fizik, action wipes, kinetic koffee and FSA.So keep an eye on the old twitter for sponsor and project updates, and when i tag someone i'm not being a corporate whore. I'm supporting people who help people.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

improper preparation

i'd like to begin by publically apologizing to anyone who happened to be on the 101, 5 or 605 south between 4:30 and 5:58 yesterday. I probably chopped you, maybe i flashed you, you probably honked at me, i probably waved in an apologetic fashion, maybe you waved back with fewer fingers. But then again, i had a bike race to get to and as we all know that's serious business.

En route from San Francisco to San Diego yesterday it occurred to me that, it was a Tuesday and thus a) i could benefit from cheap but delicious tacos at a variety of establishments and b) if the stars aligned i could make it to el dorado park in time for the Mark Whitehead Memorial race. Leaving SF at 7 am the stars seemed relatively easy to align, add in a coffee stop, a longer than planned lunch chez action wipes and the stars seem to be falling out of the sky entirely and i was sat in rush hour traffic in Santa Monica full of delicious tacos (thanks Martha) and getting increasingly frustrated at the ability of people to drive incredibly slowly and yet still act unpredictably.

I knew the race began at 6, at 5 g maps was suggesting i was an hour and ten minutes out. Bummer. I topped off my basal insulin and got on with driving home, next thing i knew gaps started opening in the traffic and the trusty audi began winding it's way south and east. by 5;30 g maps was saying 31 minutes, i was closing the gap. at 5;45 it looked good for a pretty late notice arrival, so i began undressing as best i could in the car, and trying to rectify the extra basal i had taken, this involved some whinnie the pooh style action with a jar of honey.  (admittedly it didn't look good to the people in traffic around me).

5:58 and i arrive in el dorado park in time to see the field being briefed, i pull in infront of the bunch, and leap forth from the Audi. my trousers were handily undone at this point and found gravity to be less than useful in maintaining my decency. i ran over to the officials, deposited my license, wallet and phone and told them to take the money out to enter the race. I ran to what seemed a decent distance but in hindsight was not perhaps  the most sensible location given the public nature of large open spaces and dropped trousers, donned spandex. back at the car, some kindly soul was putting my bike together and Rahsaan was using my pump. fortunately i was still packing numeration from the day before, and nobody else dresses like a zebra around here anyway.  i scrambled around a bit more and found some shoes and a helmet. As the bunch rolled out i was able to slam a water bottle into my cage, throw my keys to someone who looked tangentially involved with the race and chase down the bunch on the neutral lap. i looked down and disaster struck, the lever on my front wheel was on the right hand side.

having confirmed that laps out for fredliness were a) illegal and b) likely to allow me to wait out the whole race i looked up to witness a lone attacker off the front. Given as pointless long range attacks are my bag (baby) i decided to join him before suffering a critical error in between the bunch and said attacker, despite my best efforts at self hypnosis through hubris i'm still not exactly in winning form. i rapidly returned to the safety of the bunch where i proceeded to lollygag around the corners like a fawn on ice ( it turns out latex tubulars lose air overnight) and to check out my "competition" (if i can really consider myself as competitive wheb my airway seems to have somehow been reduced to the size of a straw in the last 2 months) which included no less than 2 olympians and multiple national champions, not bad for a Tuesday night.

 As you can see here the race got going and i found my way into the wind more than is strictly necessary for someone who is so far from good condition that he need binoculars to even see it.  I'd love to say i eschewed the SRM  in order to more effectively stay in touch with the sensations, and race on the basis of my legs' feedback. I'd also like to claim that i eschewed sunglasses so that the sheer tenacity and rage in my eyes would be more visible to my competitors. Truth be told, i couldn't find either of them (still cant find the sunnies actually) in the quagmire that my car had become.

Anyway, the point of all this waffling: we all like to plan and prepare for our races, check our sugars 59 times and eat & warm up according to a carefully planned schedule whilst wearing an ice vest and some very large headphones which pump "sandstorm" non stop but sometimes it isn't that way. Sitting in my car on the way home, dining on nutella from a jar and my emergency in car biscuit tin i couldn't have been happier. I had fully realized the potential of my day having eaten tacos AND raced bikes as well as travelling the length of a state.

Sometimes it's great to cut away the hassle and the prep and the nerves and just race your bike with honey in your beard and with your boxer shorts on public display in the middle of the course . The sunglasses though, those really help, it might have been a memorial race but that's not the only reason my eyes were watering.