As I write, Gary is driving a van and trailer packed to the brim with all our gear all the way across the country for Nationals. To say we’re lucky to have him would be an understatement of the greatest proportions. Gary doesn’t just take care of us like it’s his job, which for part of the year I suppose it is, he takes care of us like we’re family.
Gary’s quiet. You wouldn’t know that he sometimes works a month straight with no days off, between weekdays at the shop and weekends with us. You wouldn’t know that he moved homes in the week before leaving for Reno, operating out of boxes while outfitting a new trailer to carry a team’s worth of equipment across the country.
He takes pride in our weekly tent compound; our collective traveling weekend home. Always adding new touches – a three-headed propane heater, multiple sizes of water tanks for his fancy power washer, and of course the fancy green walls that let us do things like this:
If you know Gary, you know he’s methodical. He keeps a little notebook in his back pocket all weekend, taking notes on how each of us like our bikes. What tire pressure did I run? Honestly, I don’t know – ask Gary. He uses the notes to start us at a logical pressure for the conditions based on our prior preferences, and we ask him to adjust based on feel. For someone like me, it protects against concern about the absolute number and frees up energy to focus on feel. Our trainers are set up with bikes before we get back from the first pre-ride, and our bikes always match perfectly.
He’s also fun and innovative. Ask him about the water tank at HPCX this year. Okay fine, I’ll tell you. The hose hookup was at least 300 yards and a parking lot away from the tent area. Gary’s tank holds like a million gallons and weighs something like 400 pounds when it’s full. Even with a dolly – too heavy to roll that far. Gary waited for Leslie and Julie to head off to the restroom before saying “I need help with something and you’re the only one crazy enough to do it”. We drove the tank to the hose hookup, then he sat in the trunk, we leaned the tank on him and strapped it to the car, then I drove his car with the trunk open and him hanging out the back rolling a water tank. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.
If you pay close attention, you’ll see Gary buzzing around the pro team setups like a bee; pollinating the best ideas. He’s the one who pointed out the fancy Feedback stand setup that also appeared in CX magazine yesterday. He’s always looking for ways to improve, and improves things we didn’t know were suboptimal. He brings a level of “pro” to our low-budget team that far exceeds anything we could’ve imagined, let alone hoped for ourselves.
Last season when we wanted to go to Belgium, Gary rushed to book his own flight. He took a class to get better at driving a standard so he could shuttle us around the country. And he got particular joy out of driving into each race venue asking which way for “Renners”. Gary makes the best of what we have at all times, and we love him extra for that. We hope to build this team into a truly professional effort someday, and once we get there we’ll appreciate Gary’s help in building it. He invests in himself, us, and this team every day, and we can only hope to build him the kind of operation he deserves to run.
Below is an edit of Gary fussing with my shifter until it’s perfect after I foolishly crashed in the sandpit at Silver Goose CX this year. You’ll notice he can’t stop until it’s *just right*. And here’s a finish line photo from that same race – I got my first UCI points that weekend and nobody there was more excited than Gary. Not even me, perhaps.