The Sweet Aroma of Charred Meat...
Monday, 23 September 2013 00:10
(Image L - A drawing of Sean by one of his several kids.)
By Sean Pease
Five o'clock came early that Saturday morning, the seconds seemed to click away double time and the trip from home to Square Lake Park seemed like it may never end. Then I was there, and the time continued to click away. I frantically set up my work station as almost 400 participants roamed the race site and transition area. I was open for business at 6:30am, and customer number one set the tone for majority of the day. While the line got longer for mechanical help, I set everyone at ease as we did some major surgery on a front brake system for one participant. What I loved seeing as I worked feverishly was the help and support from the athletes to get their bike tires aired up, answer countless questions, and the interaction of strangers, and old friends, alike. The mechanical work, flat tires, blown tubulars and minor adjustments just kept coming in. This was a busy race morning, and that is what I was there for....
My race bike was already racked, but nothing else (as far as race gear) had been dealt with on my end, yet. I was way behind, but usually do pretty well under pressure. All the participants were being taken care of, and that is the main goal for the morning. I think I even saved a couple of races for others. That is a win/win for them, and for Gear West. I was able to chat with some good friends and customers throughout the morning, it was great, as always, to see familiar faces. Randy Fulton was roaming around about 20 minutes before the race start. He asked if I was racing, and I told him it would be close today...which is actually a familiar feeling on most race mornings that I mechanic and get to race. Down to the wire before the race even begins. Hell, I hadn't even registered yet.
Just a few seconds after I had succumbed to the idea that I would not be racing my 5th race in a row, a familiar, and pretty, face came meandering across the parking lot. She came over to the mechanical area just outside of transition and said "Hey, I got lost...I'm late. BIG SURPRISE!" Angie Hop, notorious for last minute details and kicking ass. She really was late, too late. Her bike, like mine, was racked...but hadn't yet registered and the gun. had. just. gone. off.
As I dealt with a few more issues with some relay bikers (who did not need to be at the swim start), we chatted and decided it would be fun to ride the course and offer bike support to anyone who might need it. So after a few participants got out of the water and onto the bike course, we grabbed our TT bikes and headed out too. it was a beautiful day for a ride, and the Square Lake course is extremely fun. So we rode, kept a nice pace and offered encouragement to the participants as we passed or they passed us. It was a blast, no pressure...just a good day to ride.
Getting back to transition we had to quickly veer off course so we didn't head into the transition area. This sent a couple volunteers into a tailspin, so we reassured them we were not participating. They finally caught on and we were back at the Gear West van. Angie decided to take a dip in the lake to 'rinse off' as I readied the area to start grilling up some wieners. I quickly set up the grill just outside of transition, propped up a table with some buns and condiments, and fired up the grill. In no time the air was filled with the sweet aroma of charred meat, nothing quite like it.
The race was still in full mode...I had a few hot dog lovers here and there, plus a bunch of volunteers, gobbling up the dogs. The sun was out, the air was hot, and all that was missing was an ice cold beer. Angie finally made it back from her dip in the lake and she was kind enough to offer up her help in slinging frankfurters, taking out the trash, and adding to the conversation. I wouldn't have been able to keep up efficiently without her, and I thanked her kindly many times over throughout the morning. We had a lot of fun, laughing, talking smart and sharing obscure movie quotes. We are like the same person...a scary thought indeed.
Things were in full tilt now, hot dogs were flying off the grill, sweat dripping from my brow. Out of the woodwork comes a very familiar face--Mr. Jerry MacNeil. He was aiming for a meal that consisted of sphincters and rodent hair I believe, and I had just the thing for him (yikes). We sat around the grill discussing stories of stories, more movie talk, and just having a good time relating with the participants. What a riot.
Soon the morning was winding down. I had to get to work at the shop, Jerry had to go home and write stuff, and Angie needed to be late to somewhere else I'm sure. We decided to start cleaning up, organizing and heading out.
I made one quick trip to the beach, where the race started and finished, to thank Randy and his crew for putting on another fun event. Randy gave me and Gear West some props for being at the race helping out and taking care of last minute issues and I was on my way. The drive back to the shop would be a long one, then work for the remainder of the afternoon and go find a cozy place to rest. It was a perfect day, even without the racing part.
It's all about finding the fun in any situation. Good company never hurts.
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