May 16, 2024
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May 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Part 1

The adventure began the week before the race. I was traveling to England with my wife Janet, our two sons Eric and Stevie, three bags, two devices and one bike named “Friday.”

(First, how did four people travel for eight days with three suitcases?)

Sounds like a math problem.

(It does, doesn’t it? Answer the question.)

Simple, in summer. It’s T-shirts and shorts. What’s the other question?

(Why is your bike named “Friday”?)

My first bike was named “Jarvis” and when I upgraded, I followed the names Iron Man Tony Stark gave his A.I.

The first issue to tackle was the transportation of the bike. I ride a TT or time trial bike. There are many little parts that have to be carefully dismantled and packed away. Most notably, the derailleur.

(The what?)

The derailleur is a variable-ratio bicycle gearing system consisting of multiple sprockets of different sizes. This mechanism moves the chain from one sprocket to another.

Imagine if your car transmission was built with the precision of a Swiss watch, without the protection of the watch case. I took the bike to the guys at FitwerxNJ who built it for me in the first place. I filmed the whole dismantling and packing since…

(You want to share the experience?)

…there are so many parts to a triathlon bicycle that I was going to need a step-by-step plan for assembly and post-race disassembling.

“Can I add things to the bike case to save on packing?” I asked Brad Frederickson, the bike mechanic.

“Oh, I think you should,” replied bike fitter Joe LoPorto.

Naturally, when I got home and filled up the case with stuff, I couldn’t close it again.

(So, just sit on it. It will close.)

It’s a racing bicycle, not your kid’s camp laundry. My first reaction was, “I’m going to crack the wheels or the frame if I press too hard. I need to go back to the bike shop.”

(No, you don’t. It’s a bike case Dave, not a carton of eggs from the supermarket. The case will protect the bike.)

I paused and thought about what my father taught me…

(Always pack extra clean underwear?)

Besides that. He used to tell me to “figure it out.”

I looked and realized that the bike wheels shift out of their section when you open the case. I needed to manually ease the wheels back into the pocket of the case.

(So, what did you pad the bike case with?)

Bike shoes, helmet, wetsuits…

(You need two?)

No telling how cold the water will be up north.

(Water bottles?)

Yup, filled with baggies of protein powder.

(Have fun getting through airport security.)

This trip was filled with firsts. None of us had ever been to Europe and the boys had not flown internationally before. So, we’re at the airport and I said to my 10 and 16 yr olds:

“There are words you cannot say in an airport, like “bomb.”

“How about, ‘You’re the bomb?’”

“No.”

“What if I see my friend Jack? Can I say “Hi Jack”?

“Still no. Janet, did we pack duck tape to silence the kids?”

(Is it duck or duct?)

It’s both. The legend is that during World War II a marine fighting the Pacific wrote back to his mother who worked for the 3M company that water was leaking into the ammo boxes. She created a waterproof, easy to rip open fabric adhesive tape and then wrote a letter to President Roosevelt in 1943. The Apollo 17 astronauts even used it on the moon to repair a broken fender.

(How do you break a fender on the moon?)

That is a story for another time.

Our first problem showed up before we had even gotten to security. I had pre-checked the luggage on the app, but I could not declare a bike case…so, I had to get physically on line and manually do that.

Walking through an airport with a bike case generates all types of questions:

“Is that a wheelchair?”

(No, it isn’t and if it was, I’d be sitting in it.)

“Is that a piano?”

(At this size?)

“Looks like a bazooka.”

(We are on line for England, not President Zelensky’s office in Ukraine.)

Bike checked, onto TSA.

Wallet, passports, pens and phone into the bin.

(Did the metal plate in your arm beep?)

No, but it is always fun for a TSA agent to look at your tallis and tefillin.

Less than 60 minutes later we were at our gate. Wife happy, kids happy, time to caffeinate.

“Name?”

“Who do I look like?”

Pause….”Venti for Tony Stark!”

This never gets old.

The funny thing about leaving New Jersey at 7 p.m. and flying east is, the sun never fully sets.

I was eating my kosher airline supper at 9 p.m. and the sun was up. My kids were not.

(You ate both?)

I ate both.

I read, I slept, I ate again. We were served breakfast at 6 a.m. London time.

(What time did your stomach think it was?)

1 a.m. New Jersey time.

(Did you eat again?)

What type of question is that? Of course, I did.

We passed through customs at 8 a.m. London time and were confronted with our first indication that,

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected]

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