I told Niles there was a good chance our eight-hour drive would be a quiet one. Springtime in the shop, we're all on our toes. The phones are finally ringing. Production is being ramped up. People are finally escaping the dreaded cabin fever. A chill, weekend break of pedaling is a good choice of therapy. Quiet was what we needed. This is always our last break before summer. And Athens is our traditional destination.
We drove straight north across the Florida/Georgia border. Instead of solitude, those 473 miles were filled with good conversation. We talked our way through the south. Past the old plantation homes. The polished aluminum, Titan, decommissioned Nuclear missile as road-side attraction. Past crops soon filling the family dinner table. Pecans. Peaches. Of tobacco to roll in your cigarette. Past the army of limp rebel flags adjacent to the federal highway. Each symbol mourning a sense of lost romanticism. The Old timey Southerner's: widowers to an age that was no better than now.
We landed in Athens at 8PM. Checked in at the same Travelodge we crash at annually, and coincidentally got the same room as the year prior. The same cigarette burn marks in the comforter. The same dowel rod in the shower pulling out of the wall from rot. But this time, a different inebriated streetwalker approached us in front of our room. Instead of soliciting us to buy, he asked that we sell:
"Hey man, you guys have any klonopin?"
This was our second conversation in this progressive oasis in the Deep South. We politely declined. He thanked us for our time and continued to jog down Broad Street on some synthetic high. Who knows on what…After making sure said party animal was long gone (peaking out through the curtains), Niles and I escaped, headed downtown and ate some dialed Thai. No MSG. No fish sauce. And then turned in for an early 8am session with the incoming crew.
In the middle of the state of Florida, on the western side, two miles from Madeira Beach sits the Profile Racing Factory. Here is where we make 99% of our product for both Profile and Madera. This is my 13th year. And I, like the rest of our small crew in the shop, have become somewhat of a Renaissance Man. Sales, web updates, production middle-man, social media, advertising/marketing, and beyond. Six months into my first year, I was handed Profile's freestyle "team." An honor it was, and has been managing a group of riders who are not only my friends, but a dozen very different personalities with two dozen different perspectives on BMX. Each idea: promotional, production, designs, etc…always up for debate. The pros and cons, agreements and disagreements, loves and hates. It makes things interesting.
These trips have become the middle ground; to chill, to instill that camaraderie, talk ideas over dinner, to ride bikes. To ride bikes a lot, actually. Athens always proves to be a more than perfect atmosphere for all of the above. A good, mid point marker for the year.
On this trip, we brought a good spread of Profile's personnel dynamic: Niles Harper, production. Matt Coplon, sales/promotions. Dillon Leeper and Zachery Rogers, team. Kent Pearson and Luis Pinzon, family. And what's a road trip without inviting your crew? Thanks to Shane Leeper, Dre Tylee, Doug Fines, Mase Pearson, Chris Burden and Phil Jones for joining us.
At 8am, on Friday, April 25th, we started the trip at SPOA in Athens. We always start the weekend here as Friday proves to be dead until about noon. And due to good times, we stayed well until the afternoon. Over the course of the next three days, we covered park twice, rode ample street, checked out the Trans-AM Jam, and cruised downtown and campus on Saturday with, I'm pretty confident in estimating, 40 other riders. Solid good times.
Athens never lets us down…
Here are photos that I captured of the crew. And thanks to Chris Burden for his subsequent photo submissions. Follow him: @cburden. For more randoms from the trip, check out our instagram @profile_racing and profileracing.com