Ye got any taters?
Tim Speciale - May 20, 2020
Today I was thinking about a debate from long ago that never got settled. The details of the debate don't matter but the location does. It happened in the back of a Volvo.
I was doing some thinking on my ride today. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Today I was thinking about a debate from long ago that never got settled. The details of the debate don’t matter but the location does. It happened in the back of a Volvo. I don’t know what color the Volvo was but I’m certain that it was either silver or green. The color isn’t the point and the car, whichever one it was, isn’t really the point either. We were on the road and that’s what matters.
I’ve been on a few teams over the years and they all had their own makeup and on a personal level they all served their own purpose. I’ve never felt as gelled as a squad as I did on EGO. The mix of talent, personalities, devotion and position in life was the perfect mix for the team we wanted to be. What we wanted to be was a talented amature bike team that was able to get results (and checks) at various levels of races all over the country. And we were exactly that.
We raced all over the country between 2013 and 2016. We raced at tiny local crits 7 hours away in Indiana. We spent the weekend racing up and down the main streets of industrial river towns that line the Iowa side of the Mississippi shore. We raced in a small town nestled in the desert mountains of New Mexico. We raced in sun of Southern California, the green fields of Central Minnesota, through the rolling hills of Central Arkansas and through the city squares of the suburbs of Washington D.C.. We drove to every one of those races.
I have seen a lot of the country on these adventures and at each destination I went to battle alongside guys I’ve spent hours with in the solitude of the road. There is a thing that happens on drives like this. You accept the inevitable sense of infinity. The drive seems like it will never end. In that acceptance comes conversation.
It’s on the road where you learn about people more. You learn who’s got a small bladder or little patience. You begin to sense who came from stable homes and those that came from the chaotic ones. You learn to appreciate certain traits those unique upbringings manifested in that person and critique some others.
You catch a midnight shift on the drive with the only other guy who is awake and suddenly he’s finally opening up to you about some personal stuff. Or find yourself poking shit at another guy’s eating habits after piling back into the Volvo at a truckstop so remote you’re surprised its even open. Or subconsciously losing your cool because of the subtle driving habits of another.
The road is where it happens. Not the road itself, but on the road. In the host houses, hotel rooms and shitty diners. And yes, in the car too. You find yourself in small towns you’ve heard about but never thought you’d visit like Joplin Missouri or Lexington Kentucky. You’re not even visiting most of these towns so much passing through and stopping for a minute to get some calories. You’re in a somewhat foreign place every other weekend. The only familiarity is the bitter taste of the continental breakfast coffee and the stench of the other six guys you’ve been with non-stop for 48 hours.
It’s tiring. You are cooped up in a car for hours upon hours only to get there and shift your focus to the slugfest you’re in for tomorrow. It might be 90 minutes of the fastest crit racing in the US, or 4 days and 350 miles of grinding road races.
You begin to lean on each other. Natural roles develop and individuals stick tend to stick to their tasks; the ones they are good at and don’t mind doing. The same guys tends to be the ones to work on the bikes or pack the car or start the laundry or cook dinner. Or stitch us up. One guy might never seem to physically pitch in but everyone accepts it because he brings the vibes: The Mood Czar.
I miss the road. I miss that team. I miss those guys. I miss racing my bike. But having something to miss is a beautiful thing because it means you had something worth missing. That isn’t melodrama if you know what to do with it. Nostalgia can breed a form of jealousy; a jealousy of your own self from a different time. Missing something can be that if that’s what you wish it to be. Or it can be a tool that keeps you in check and makes sure you appreciate the things you have.
So call your buddy Trebs, let him know he’s full of courage but to be careful of hydroplaning, yell at him to get back to the front, make sure you always have some taters and let your brothers know you love them. You’ll race better for it tomorrow.