The featured image for this blog is an exterior and interior depiction of Arman’s famous exhibtion at the Iris Clert gallery in Paris: Le Plein (1960). Basically Arman stuffed the gallery with garbage, including tossed bikes. I’m using the pic to point towards how much stuff gets jammed into a season of bike racing and this image has both bikes and… stuff.
The Japanese are acutely aware of the sometimes neurotic overflowing need to hold onto things. In fact they have a phrase related to hoarding, tsunde oku (tsoonn-day okoo). It refers to the act of letting things pile up. Many of you know what I’m talking about: those leaning piles in your home that signal you might have problems with letting things go. In Japan, hoarding has become somewhat of a socio-cultural phenomenon with many examples of people cocooning themselves in apartmental junk.
Ok, it’s time to pile it on: The word tsundoku is more specific and refers to stacking books in ways that lean towards the precariously fanatical. There are many examples of people stacking books or newspapers so high they essentially move through literary tunnels in their homes or apartments. And then there’s the Japanese version of North Americans having a couple of car tires and a large rusting appliance rusting on your front lawn: gomi yashiki–this translates into something like “garbage house” but more extreme. These hoarders don’t make tight tunnels, they push outwards, oozing their crap out the door and into the street. You have to walk on the road to get by the lava flow of a top notch gomi yashiki.
I’m telling you about piles of stuff because cycling teams start the season buried in piles and boxes of equipment, clothing, etc and all with strong whiffs of tubular glue in the air. I don’t care how organized and shiny any team’s service course is; there is no way that you can avoid working your way through the piles to get the season started. And even if the material piles are all sorted there are still piles of things to do. In fact the photo above is a metaphor for my headspace… and I’m not alone. Bike racing has its own culture of clutter. Beneath the washed and wrapped cars of any race caravan is a jostling circus of moving parts and people.
Keep that circus caravan in mind as you wind your eyes through the stuff below to eventually meet a couple of our shiny riders.
This year we moved our service course to Tucson. One of our mechanics, Richard Knutson, will manage it and he is gradually building shelving, racks etc to handle all the bits and pieces that arrive on the doorstep. Here’s a pic from when things first started to arrive. Take a deep inhale. I’m sure you can smell the Vittoria’s Mastik Pro tubular glue from there.
And here’s what the service course looks like now:
Actually, that’s a pic of one of Ai Weiwei’s most well-known art exhibits. Richard is still working on his masterpiece so stay tuned!
But here’s the thing: cycling teams have to move through the piles to get to the road. It’s not all bad or neurotic. In fact it’s exciting opening boxes and making piles of incredible cycling equipment and technical wear. That’s what we’ve been doing since the season ended last October: swimming in and out of the flow of things, trying to find a place for them in the world.
As most engineers/dumpster divers will tell you, a lot of good can come from piles, and workspaces don’t need to look fancy to be awesome. Here’s a pic that Doug Martin from Jamis posted of their engineering team preparing to test the aerodynamics of Silber’s new 2017 bikes (we’re extremely happy with the results):
Not a lot of clutter in the wind tunnel but with the contemporary lust for techno-saavy design, it might look more rough than the wind tunnel in the Minority Report. Ok, there was no wind tunnel in the Minority Report but Tom Cruise did supervise the testing for Jamis… ok ok that’s an alternative truth but you get my drift.
Lately, the bits and pieces are starting to come together. The glue is starting to stick. New signing Adam Roberge has been pulling monster rides in Tucson. His coach, David Gagnon, has been sharing info and we’re really excited with the results. On January 28th, Adam got his tired legs turning at the Historic Campus Crit hosted by the UA Cycling Team. He came 6th. The next day he and teammate Nick Zukowsky entered the Oracle RR where they came 6th and 9th respectively.
These riders are the hard-working beneficiaries of all the hi-tech pieces that get pulled out of boxes, piled and put together behind the scenes. Gord snapped some pics of Adam and the glue holding his Vittoria Corsa tires to our Easton EC90 SL wheels. Richard Knutsen has obviously worked his way through a few of the piles.
As our riders begin to enter local races, there are more signs that the training effect of all those kms is starting to take effect. Nigel Ellsay has been based in Oxnard, CA since the start of the year. His coach, Richard Wooles, has been putting him through the wringer. Yesterday Nigel scored the team’s first win of 2017 at the UCLA road race. We’re hoping for big things this year from Nigel, but take a look at the pic below. It was taken using a phone. Nigel has not been prepped for the podium by a soigneur… and there is no podium. That said, the entire day came together. Imagine the organizational work done behind the scenes by the UCLA cycling team. So here we have it: three guys calmly celebrating on a breezy Californian afternoon. They seem so composed, and yet if you look carefully there are signs of clutter behind them.