Does anyone remember the 2003 major motion picture release called Elf, starring Will Ferrell and Bob Newhart? It’s the one about a man raised as an elf. After wreaking havoc in the elf community due to his ungainly size the man (Will Ferrell) leaves the North Pole to go to New York in search of his true identity. Anybody? Anyway, there’s this one scene where you learn that Santa’s sleigh requires what is effectively an electronic assist. So the deal is, because nobody believes in Santa Claus and Christmas anymore, and hasn’t for several generations it would seem, Santa had to install a motor. Apparently the source of Santa’s Reindeer’s power, even Rudolph’s, even with his nose so bright, is our global, collective belief in the spirit of Christmas. Since nobody really believes in Christmas anymore the reindeer can’t fly, and if the reindeer can’t fly, Santa’s sleigh needs a motor. To illustrate the point Santa’s sleigh sports an aftermarket Klausometer which measures our spirit and demonstrates how woefully underpowered his sleigh would be without the motor.
The point is, Flanders was the first race race that Manual for Speed ever covered. We had no idea what we were doing. For example, I don’t think we really registered for credentials. Or maybe we did but they didn’t get approved, which at the time we were like who cares we will figure it out. Also, we didn’t have an AIPS card which is required just to get in the building where you pick up your credentials, assuming you have credentials. We didn’t have (or know about) an AIPS card because why would we, also to get an AIPS card you first need a NSSA card, which also we didn’t have or know about. I know, I know this story is taking forever, but listen bear with me because I think I have a point and it’s pretty good one, I think. Okay so back to that first Flanders, after we bullied our way into the building without an AIPS card, we tried to get those credentials we hadn’t been approved for, and it was rough, real rough. It wasn’t even a language thing. Everyone here speaks English. In fact over and over again they told us in pretty excellent english that we didn’t meet any of the minimum requirements to be approved for media credentials. Like, at all. No AIPS card, no assignment letter, and no website. Thirty minutes into the process, having already spoken with three different dudes and our stone wall beginning to fail, we finally met this one guy, a friendly guy. While he couldn’t get us the whole shebang (side note, wtf IS a shebang anyway?) including the photo vest and all, he was able to surreptitiously sneak us a bag in which were some lanyards, a couple of media passes and a race bible. Then we explained that we didn’t know where we were going or how to follow the race, and asked did he have any thoughts about any of that. He did, he circled a bunch of spots on the map in our race bible and called his “drinking buddy” Ivan to see if he would be interested in driving us. Apparently Ivan was interested. Our friendly guy gave us Ivan’s phone number and told us to meet him in the morning here, at the Press Office, at 8:00 am. And then, after all was organized and we were finally on our way, bag in hand, dude slipped us a car sticker. Just like that, on a whim, we were given the keys to what would be our first taste of Sticker Privilege.
I don’t have a sleigh but I do own part of a website. And while that website doesn’t feature a Klausometer, it does, at least tacitly, more less run on spirit and that spirit does go up and down, and it could, in theory I suppose, be measured. With an Allezometer. Last year, I’ll be honest, especially towards the end of the year, I was struggling to get my reindeer up. Seriously, boner jokes aside, it was rough. Some of it was just exhaustion. A lot of it was unchecked privileges. But mostly I think it was an near absolute lack of perspective. I’ve since slept. The privileges thing is too big to tackle at this juncture, let’s revisit that some other time, or not. Either way for now let’s move past it. The perspective thing is complicated but here’s the gist: for years now my life has been dominated by bikes. But, over the last six months, I’ve worked on a lot of non-bike related projects. Some of them, like King of the Hammers, are next-level mind-blowingly wonderful spectacles. Worthy of Manual for Speed-degree focus. Others that we’ll just call… Voldermort for now, are not.
You already like cycling and so you already know this, but it turns out that Professional Road Racing is just better. And so it was, with a pretty stoked Allezometer, that Manual for Speed endeavored to cover the 2016 Spring Classics, campaign style.
It didn’t even matter that Delta Dwayne refused to accept my passport at Portland International Airport, citing a slight tear on the first page as the reason. DD claimed that I would potentially (likely, really) be refused entry into the Netherlands while trying to clear customs. And then what, I would be forced to return home, immediately. I explained to DD that no more than three weeks ago, using the very same passport, I was allowed to take a Delta flight to the country of Colombia which country I was also allowed to enter, no problem. And as if that wasn’t enough, 10 days after that, I was allowed to take yet another Delta flight back to the country of America, which country also allowed me to enter it. DD was not swayed, he handed me a form outlining how and where to get an emergency passport made, he smiled, he was pleasant, he rebooked my flight for the following morning, and wished me luck.
Because it’s not important, and because I didn’t let it fuck with my Allezometer, and because I don’t want to dwell, but for the sake of information, and because we’ve all had one of those days, the kind Calgon bubble bath was made for, and because some of you might find it entertaining, or maybe you just want to feel better about your life and the way you navigate it, here’s a quick list (in roughly chronological order) of some of the things that happened to me over the next 24 hours.