On day 14, I was getting homesick – it was the last sort and load day. Luckily it was just for three races, and the return trip was light. I was ready to hit my route and get home.
But remember how I said nothing goes as planned? I had loaded quickly and pulled out of Asheville with the intent of just getting this done, and going home. I made Indy quickly, did my drop off, and got my hotel just outside of Chicago when I found out my exchange with the Minnesota/Wisconsin feeder van wasn’t going to happen as quickly as I had hoped.
Sometimes all it takes is one bike to hold up the entire process. The feeder van wasn’t able to meet up with me until Saturday morning – 36 hours later than planned. That left me with a day and a half to kill in the Chicago/Milwaukee area, which I took full advantage of.
Side note: I appreciate that most of my free time on this journey was in the Asheville, NC, and Milwaukee, WI areas – what I consider to be the Southern and Northern beer capitals of the Eastern US. There are some perks.
Saturday morning, I found myself in another parking lot swapping bikes. To the outside observer, this process has to look fairly shady: two Penske trucks backed together with 20 – 40 bikes lined up along the sides. As quickly as we could swap the bikes, I was back on the road finishing up my stops in Chicago before heading for another parking lot meet up in Detroit at 9 pm. I grabbed some sleep and headed for a brunch date with my family in Cleveland!
After brunch with the fam, I continued on my route, making stops at bike shops in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. I made it all the way to Lexington, KY before I called it a night. After countless miles on the road, I was up the next day with only 4.5 hours of driving ahead of me. I pulled into TBT’s Asheville warehouse at 3:30 pm on Monday, October 7th, having no idea how many bikes I had moved. I just knew that it had been a long trip and I was ready to go home.
With the truck unloaded, I had one last night in Asheville. I took the time for a couple of sours at the Funkatorium, ate some Indian food, and walked up Lexington to hit the boutiques and hippie shops. Then it was back to the hotel bar to watch the Browns on Monday Night Football, all while looking forward to my flight home in the morning.
While waiting for my flight, I reflected on the past 21 days reliving all I had learned and experienced on this journey.
- Meeting in parking lots – never seemed like a thing to me until this job
- Constantly searching Google for “nearest (fill in the blank)” to a local bike shop
- Counting the hours from when a bike shop opens the next morning to determine where to stop driving for the night
- Calling bike shop owners to ask them to meet me on the one day the shop is closed – that reminds me, I owe a few of them a beer or two
This is a very interesting job, and not one for the faint of heart. It takes a very specific set of skills, personality, and a love of bikes to be able to enjoy it and be good at it. I told one customer that it takes an Ironman to get your bikes to you, even if many of us haven’t officially crossed the line. I think that is absolutely true.
Well, until next time – Thank you for trusting us with your bike. I hope you have a great race.