Blog Post

The Travelling Circus 1

I wrote this almost a year ago, the last time I convinced myself that I should have some sort of account of life on the road. I'm working on another episode that actually talks about bike parts.

January 1st is a weird day for the pro race mechanic. The last race of the year, Cross Nats in Bend, ended almost three weeks ago and after a relatively lazy drive down the coast to home base in Irvine, CA mandatory vacation began. Not mandatory because the office was closed or the boss decreed it so – mandatory because this is the only two weeks of the year that there is no major cycling event that requires my attention. We are encouraged to make sure that we relax during these two weeks – sleep in our own beds for a change, watch lots of TV etc.

There is, however, a fundamental flaw in the idea of relaxing at home as far as I’m concerned. I was drawn to a career that has me travelling all year long. These two weeks at home are the longest I ever stay in one place at a time all year and I’m starting to get a little antsy. I keep noticing the skin peeling off my fingertips – a sign that I haven’t worked on a bike in too long and that the callouses are fading. Actually, I couldn’t do it. Within twelve hours of starting this vacation I was in my car headed out of town. I took advantage of the fact that the other members of the travelling circus were all at home too and I did a few days of couch surfing in Aptos. A few days later I was on a plane to Portland to see some family. Even though I’m “off the road” I spent less than half of the nights in my own bed.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like my humble little cave of an apartment and I think Costa Mesa is one of the greatest towns in the country. I’ve assembled everything I need to waste away the days inside this overpriced, undersized box two miles from the ocean and one block from the freeway. I’m finally reunited with all of the bikes that I can’t take on road with me and its seventy-five degrees outside so I can actually ride them on my local trails. The normal go-to six inch carbon trail bike has been hung up and will get ridden again on Colorado soil. These sandy, heavily travelled and obscenely smooth So-Cal trails require that I haul out the old Salsa Ala Carte built with a history of XTR and attack some dirt with V brakes and 853 steel.

My kitchen is here too. I actually got to use a shopping cart at the grocery store the other day. Most of the year I’m shopping for one meal at a time so a basket is enough. Unfortunately, that means I usually can’t make anything that has leftovers, anything that uses ingredients that won’t be used up by one dish, or anything that takes more than one day to cook. Thankfully though, as I write this I’m comforted by the glorious scents of a whole chicken and pile of produce slowly being turned into Tortilla Soup while greasy dishes from biscuits and gravy and sausage links still linger on the stove, in the sink and in the air.

There is something to be said for enjoying the finer things in life at home for a change. One of my hobbies is appreciating the things in life that are designed to be appreciated. Steak, art, beer, booze, wine, cigars, coffee, barbeque, real Mexican food, music, movies… you name it. I honestly believe that Southern California is one of the best places in the world to get your hands on all of these things. While my life is defined by living life to the fullest one day at a time in amazing cities all over the world there is something to be said for bellying up to the bar up the street and wasting away the hours sipping twenty year old Scotch or a Trappist Ale. While I love spending a week in a resort town, those are hard things to track down in the area surrounding the race venue.

This little holiday is almost over. Mountain Bike racing starts in So-Cal in early January and in less than a week I fly to Philly to kick off tech seminar season. It will be nice to get a proper cheese steak again and I’m sure Costa Amazing will still be here when I wander back again.

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