ProBikes is my local shop, right around the corner from us...its whose jersey I wear in races and its where I go to read bike magazines, use obscure tools, annoy the mechanics with my ineptitude, ring up one hell of a huge tab, and feel like I have a semblance of an extended family.
I went in there today for the first time in a couple weeks (I'm usually more regular than that) and it was just Jamie and Alex, which was great...no other official customers, so we could shoot the shit for a little bit. Jamie has experience in every type of biking ever, and he's done them all well, and he's Canadian, so he's great. And everytime I talk to Alex I learn or think about something new. He's the fastest guy on a bike in Asheville, he's rediculously intelligent, he'll dish out more shit than you can handle, and for all these things, I have a huge amount of respect for him. He's also all legs, which reminds me of the drawings children do, which look rediculous, but I think are actually an incredible example of the ability to draw perspective, which is hard for even advanced artists to do. Think about it: when you're knee high to everyone around you, this is how you would see people: I drew that myself and added the cycling cap so you would know it was Alex. Anyway, this is sort of what he looks like to me, because he's so tall.
These guys help me out a lot, in little ways that really amount to a lot more. The sort of "I'll be back around 5 to get that bottom bracket and put it in." Then I slip out for a ride, come back, and Alex has come and gone, to finish up some other job he had to do, and just for the hell of it, he finished up my bike for me. He freely tosses me spokes, Stan's, advice, ridicule, wisdom, etc. and I fully appreciate and take in it all.
Sometimes I feel like I put a lot of work into this cycling hobby, not to mention a lot of money, and getting breaks is hard. I sent out tons of race resumes last season, only to recieve rejections, dinky-sponsorships, or no response at all, and I see the same thing happen to riders who are a hell of a lot faster than I am, and super hard-working, and such good advocates of the sport...and its all them, not much outside help, and its hard. So when folks like Alex and Jamie and Phil and Kevin and to a much more prolonged extent, Art Shuster, show a little bit of faith in me, and are so willing to help, that means a whole hell of a lot to me.
Oh, and better watch out for Team Canada. Alex, (who is rediculously fast and deserves to show the rest of the world how fast he is, and I want him to because he's still young and needs to do this for himself) and I suckered Jamie, the GodFather-Like-Woah-of-Cycling, to be our "coach." Whatever that means. But we'll be sponsored by beer (Labatt's, of course), ice-fishing, maple syrup, and hockey. And Alex and I will figure out where our potentials lie. This is important, this is good. Sometimes being serious and determined is ok. We'll probably make fun of ourselves a whole bunch, we'll have to give up certain things like real jobs, Alex will call what we're doing (i.e. training) "gay", but that'll be ok, because we're going to go for it. We'll be faster than we are now, and that's cool. But we really won't try that hard, because we all now that that's not cool.