I flew out of Mallorca on a high note after Owen and I got in a 70 mile ride with 7,000 feet of climbing along the coast of Mallorca. We made a stop in the small town of Dye and had one of the best espressos I have ever had. Unfortunately the two Cortados were a bit of a sacrifice and we walked outside to a downpour. The warm temperatures and beautiful coastline made the pouring rain much more tolerable. After a half hour of rain and very slick roads the skies cleared just in time for our climb back over the mountains and then into Palma. I highly recommend traveling to Mallorca, Spain to anyone looking for some great cycling, amazing food and beautiful scenery. Check out The Cycling House for a few trip options. Unfortunately my time in Mallorca, Spain was ending but I still had another week in Europe ahead.
I traveled to France with the intention of racing the Maxi-Race de Lac Annecy an 84km trail running race. I made a quick trip to Chamonix, France for some trail running but Europe was experiencing a very wet spring and the snow levels were very low. Despite the pouring rain I had a great time and eventually made my way to Annecy, France. I stayed with my friend John Goldsmith owner of Duckstore Productions; a custom bicycle tour company in France. I met John last year while working the Tour De Ted for Edward Jones. John and his wife Knar were amazing hosts and their home was an amazing base for trail running. I was able to dodge some of the rain and got out for some great rides and trail runs. Unfortunately the bad weather forced the race directors to cancel the ultra race. Cold temperatures, snow and very muddy trail conditions forced the cancelation. I still made it out every day on the trails, enjoyed some good wine food and coffee. After a week in France it was time to return to Montana for a few days before heading out for The Cycling House Wisconsin.
Traveling across multiple time zones and traveling often can become very difficult. Here are a few tips that I have learned along the way. Hammer Nutrition; I always have a good supply of PIC’s (premium insurance caps; daily multivitamin), REM caps (improves quality and length of sleep), Hammer Bars (quick fuel during travel) and Compex (electrical muscle stimulator). The combination of these 4 items from Hammer Nutrition allow me to keep myself somewhat regular and Compex provides a quick fix for muscle recovery and helps get rid of travel legs. Packing; never pack to much but always bring the appropriate gear for each adventure. In my case this typically includes swimming, biking and running clothing. I usually pack 3 pairs of bike shorts, 2 jerseys, 4-5 pairs of socks, wind vest, arm warmers, leg warmers, rain jacket, 2 pairs of running shorts, 1 long sleeve wicking shirt, 1 running short sleeve shirt, gloves, hat and of course a speedo. This has all of my sporting endeavors covered and along with cycling shoes, Zoot ultra Kalini 3.0 running shoes, and flip-flops I have all of my bases covered. Casual wear is a whole other story but I follow the Hammer fueling protocol of, “less is best” and bring the minimal amount of clothing needed for the trip. Packing light is always nice because unwanted clothing can become a bit of a burden especially if you are moving around often. A couple pieces of casual clothing that I do bring come from Mountain Khakis (built for the mountain life). I typically bring 1-2 pairs of shorts and 1-2 pairs of pants both from Mountain Khakis. The durability, stylishness and comfort of the Mountain Khakis products help me pack light and fit the mold for most occasions. I favor the alpine utility shorts and pants for most of travel adventures. Those are just a few tips but packing smart can make a trip that much more enjoyable.
I flew back to the old USA and had a couple of days in Montana to relax before heading to Wisconsin for camp. The two days in Montana were actually spent organizing my life because after Wisconsin I was heading to New Hampshire for the summer to live with my girlfriend (Bri) and do some east coast races. Orange crusher was loaded to the gills with toys and I headed out on what turned out to be quite an adventure. The adventure began before I left the great state of Montana. Just outside of Billings I stopped for gas in a very small town and much to my dissatisfaction Crusher (vw vanagon) would not start. I did the normal thing, head on steering wheel, yelled “fudge” or something similar and opened up the Bentley VW manuel. Of course it was pouring rain, the town had one gas station and I was still a little jet-lagged. After a few feeble attempts at getting Crusher started I made the walk of shame into the gas station. I asked if there was a mechanic in town but the attendant started to laugh and said, “well Bill is kind of a mechanic.” She got Bill on the horn and he drove down to the gas station. Bill seemed to be as equally perplexed about the inner workings of a VW vanagon and two of us scratched our heads and stood in the pouring rain. I ended up calling a tow truck and had Crusher towed back into Billings. The tow itself sucked but anxiety set in because it was Friday and I knew I might have some difficulty finding a mechanic to work on the beast on a Saturday. The tow truck driver helped me find a mechanic but they would not be able to check it out until the morning so I grabbed a hotel room. My Dad met up with me in Billings with The Cycling House van because he was coming to Wisconsin to help out with camp. The next morning I made the call to the mechanics with fingers crossed and they informed me that Crusher started right up. My first thought was, “sweet” my second was, “WTF” I had that thing towed in for nothing. I knew their had to be something wrong and it was indeed the starter. I logged onto Go Westy (a VW supply company) and ordered a starter and had it sent to Wisconsin. Now the race was on! I had to get Crusher from Billings to Madison, Wisconsin with a faulty starter and nearly 20 hours of driving separated me from my final destination. My Dad and I headed out with Crusher leading the way and about 3 hours down the road I ran into some more trouble. Only this time I knew what the trouble was, I ran out of gas. Fortunately I was only 5 miles out of Glendive, unfortunately Crusher shut off and would likely be very difficult to start again. I drove the TCH van and filled a gas canister then filled up Crusher, turned over the key and nothing happened. I grabbed what would become the best tool that I had in my toolbox; a hammer. I crawled underneath the van and gave the starter a few good whacks with the hammer while my Dad attempted to start the van. On the third or fourth try my chest was hit with exhaust and Crusher was running like a champ again. I learned a valuable lesson that day along I-90, do not turn off the van unless I have to and it gave a new meaning to #howihammer. For the remainder of the day Crusher was running while I filled up gas, stopped for food and finally had a rest in Minnesota. The next morning I got up turned the key over and nothing. I grabbed the Hammer out of tool box, gave the starter a few good whacks and we were up and running again. I completed the cannonball run to Madison with time to spare before camp started the next afternoon.
The camp in Wisconsin went well and you can read a post about it here; The Cycling House blog. On the last day of camp my Dad an I started to change the starter and we were quickly joined by 2 campers that were eager to lend a hand. I replaced the old starter with a new GoWesty gear reduction starter which looked like space age material compared to the behemoth of a starter the VW originally had. I crawled out from under Crusher with a greasy face and a smile and awaited the outcome as someone attempted to start up the van. The van started right up and I was ready to hit the open road for another 20 hours of driving to New Hampshire. My Dad got me AAA, thanks Dad! Just in case! Fortunately the van started flawlessly all the way to New Hampshire. On the trip east I learned exactly why crossing the country in a 1990 VW vanagon is an adventure. On my second day of driving, yet again in the pouring rain the entire windshield wiper on the drivers side flew off the van at 70 mph. All I could do was start laughing and with less than 3 hours of driving left I decided to push on without a windshield wiper. I finally pulled into Manchester with a grin on my face and a large sense of accomplishment after all of my trials and tribulations with the Crusher. Now I’m onto some east coast adventures…..