Evan: This whole thing started off as a shit show. The night before we’re supposed to leave we get an email saying show up at the van-rental office at 8 a.m. next day. The office is an hour away. The email was sent so late most of our teammates were asleep. Welcome to the Speed Week van. Organizational snafus continued. The next one happens when we decide to book a hotel en route to our first race.
Dan: Alejandro went 20 miles the wrong way to a different hotel than the one I’d booked on my phone.
Evan: You rerouted us, and an hour later we arrived at a hotel that neither of us can even remember.
Dan: All the hotels have just blended in my mind into one. Shitty bed. Hotel Indigo shines as a beacon of joy.
Evan: I’d heard about this notorious hotel outside Savannah, I think, the Rice Planters Inn, from the previous year’s racers. Something about fireworks in the lobby and partying. And I mean, sure, it was a very shitty hotel. The TV was held onto the wall with, like, one screw. The towels were nasty. The walls had mold.
The most hilarious thing about Planters was how many parking spots SmartStop took up with their team vehicles. They had, like, a van, a trailer, and a Sprinter van. They were parked sideways across at least nine parking spots. We had one 12-seater van with six bikes on the roof, two inside, no decals. And we made it our own with the B.O. and farts of 10 consecutive days spent inside.
Speaking of our van, we rented a brand-new vehicle. It must have had under 400 miles. Perfectly clean.
Dan: We put a lot of fucking miles into it.
Evan: We left permanent bike-racer residue in the seats, and chain grease on the ceiling. But it was our home for 10 days as we traveled in a giant loop from Athens to Atlanta—monsoon—to an island off the southern coast of Georgia, back up to Greenville, as far north as Belmont, back to Sandy Springs—Atlanta, basically—and then back to NYC.
So Dan got sick. He got really fucking sick, and I was his roommate the whole trip.
Dan: By choice.
Evan: After the second race, in Roswell, where it poured, he was bed-ridden for the next three days. Honestly, I thought he was being a pussy, but he pretty much couldn’t walk.
Dan: It was a blessing in disguise for you. I just sat around the hotel watching Mad Men for two days straight.
Evan: I got to double up and race my first pro crits.
Dan: Inevitably, other people ended up getting sick, but I want to point out that Alejandro got into the van in New York sick. We shouldn’t have even let him get into the van.
Evan: So I got sick, then Jesse got sick, and so did Nick. But that was the week after Speed Week.
Dan: We should talk about how you lose to children, though.
Evan: I pretty much went down to Speed Week to gobble up points for my cat-one upgrade, and it worked out pretty great. I won four races, podiumed two, and got to race two pro crits, finishing both, one in the money.
Dan: But the one race where you had difficulty, you got beat by two kids who can’t even drink, and one of them immediately after beating you got in the junior field and soloed away for the win. Of course this sucked because we had to wait around for an hour to do the podium.
Evan: One of the juniors who beat me explained how he had to get back home to finish up high school, and the other was heading to Russia or some shit for, like, some insane stage race. I’m 25 years old.
Dan: I mean, I feel like we can’t not mention the Ruby Tuesday Thing.
Evan: OK, Nick Keough had the Ruby Tuesday Thing figured out. Basically you show up, immediately get a plate of salad. Of course this is the south, so by salad I actually mean some greens, pasta, bacon crumbs—
Dan: Those crack croutons!
Evan: Then you order anything that comes with salad. Right before your actual meal comes, you get up for another plate of salad. By this point you are actually full from the first plate. So you finish maybe half this plate of salad and ask for a to-go box, pretty much right when your food gets to the table. This way you have half a plate of salad and a full meal going back with you to the hotel room.
Dan: It’s an unadvertised two-for-one meal deal.
I feel like we have to touch on the fact that the weather was just shitty all week. This was my second Speed Week, so I was expecting to come home sunburned, and I think I got paler on that trip.
Evan: Yeah, it rained most of the time, but was still hot and muggy.
Dan: I know you weren’t there for Belmont, but the mayor of the town got on stage before the event and was like, You guys represent healthy lifestyle. Which is bullshit. We all looked around at one another like, What?
We sit around in hotel rooms to the point of atrophy, watching TV and eating garbage. And then go race, where we’re basically “exercising” to the point of vomiting.
There’s nothing healthy about this lifestyle.
Photos by Dan Chabanov, on Tumblr at bonedeth.