The Unspoken Dark Side of Bike Racing

Nope, I am not talking about doping. I am talking about crashing. If you don’t want to read the rest of this, I will summarize for you: Tradition, romanticism, and epic images are great, but you know what is even better? Not putting riders in an ambulance.

Almost every serious bike racer I know doesn’t want to talk about it. We skip over those gory videos on the Internet, we avoid hospitals like the plague, and generally try to avoid anything that would make us think about it. Why? Because if you think about crashing you hit your brakes, and if you hit your brakes you lose.

I think not talking about it is one of the most under-represented problems in the sport. Take a look at other sports such as Formula One or Moto GP, and the evolution of driver safety equipment and regulations are very clear to see. Cycling is still in the stone ages by comparison. We still careen down mountains at 50 mph in equipment that is pretty much the same as it was 50 years ago, and it wasn’t even until 2003 (after the death of Andrei Kivilev) that helmets were made mandatory in professional races! (The riders still complained and it took even longer to get them to keep their helmets on during mountain top finishes.) If we want our sport to ‘grow-up’ and demonstrate it is a stable venue for sponsor investment we need to improve here. Improvement starts with giving it proper attention, and proper attention will eventually lead to a budget. To start, here are three areas where I think we can immediately do better:

  1. Mandatory Health Insurance: This should be a no brainer. As of right now, all UCI registered teams must show proof of health insurance for their riders, but there is no such requirement for amateurs. I feel that USA Cycling should require every one of their members show evidence of coverage before issuing a racing license to them – regardless of category.
  2. Advances in Safety Equipment: There should be more emphasis on researching the cutting edge of safety equipment and mandating items which are proven to reduce severe injury. MIPS comes to mind, and I am sure there are other technologies out there that I am not aware of. I also really like the Koroyd technology found in the Smith Overtake helmets.
  3. Course Safety: This goes beyond just sweeping sand off corners and keeping cars off the course (although some events should still start there). We need to clearly define when “epic” is just too dangerous and enforce the rules accordingly – both for course design and weather conditions. There have been several recent instances of this even at the World Tour level, and no rider should have to worry about a career ending injury because of compromised course design or unsafe weather.

This is just a start; and isn’t meant to be a comprehensive solution, but hopefully the start of a conversation.  I would love to see others (riders, directors, officials, promoters, etc.) speak up on this topic.

I am going to leave you with a picture I felt compelled to take after the massive crash in Stage 1 of the 2014 Tour of the Gila. Five of our 8 riders went down and I put two of them in the ambulance. Our experience was not unique that day, and I don’t want anyone to have to experience that again.

Gila14 cropped

This is what the road looks like after you peel 60+ riders off the pavement.

 

 

How a Team Car comes Together

I just picked up our i25Kia.com team car for the season, and needless to say we are pretty excited about it.  I thought it would be fun to share the process involved with pulling the graphics together and some other insights I’ve learned about what makes a good caravan car.  To start with, here is what I think are some important criteria for specifying a car for caravan duty in UCI races:

1. Meets the UCI maximum roof height requirement of 1.66m.  This is for visibility and rider safety reasons.

2. Has a powerful enough engine to not open gaps in the caravan.  Don’t be that guy in the Prius!  (Good tires are also a plus for those alpine descents.)

3. Has an automatic transmission.  Caravan driving is basically 5 hours of stop and go traffic.  Not having to shift also makes it easier to hand up bottles, while live tweeting the race on your phone, and eating a sandwich – all at the same time.

4. Has enough room in the back for a cooler, spare wheels, and a grumpy mechanic to get in and out of it easily.

5. Has a kick ass stereo – preferably with satellite radio for those long drives across middle America.  On board Navigation is also a big plus to keep your soingeur from getting lost on the way to the feed zone, to the race, home from the race, etc.

6. A solid bike rack is also a necessity.  The most versatile set up is a three cross bar configuration that allows quick access to the outer four racks (usually uprights or ‘race ready’ racks for quick bike changes).  We typically put 4-5 racks on top of the car and then add a trailer hitch mount for extra carrying capacity when needed for traveling.  Our friends at Rocky Mounts are our go-to guys when it comes to all things bike carrying.

This season we are driving a 2015 Kia Soul ! with the ‘Sun and Sound Package.’  It meets all of above the criteria in spades (and I know there happens to be a few in stock at i25kia.com right now).  Once you have the car in hand, it is time to design the graphics package.  In the spirit of our new team kit design for this season, Brad Bingham and I drafted this up:

First Draft of graphics concept (courtesy of Brad Bingham)

First Draft of graphics concept (courtesy of Brad Bingham)

 

After getting design approval from our sponsors I then worked with the team at Front Range Vital Signs to come up with the final rendering of the car here:

Final design concept courtesy of Front Range Vital Signs

Final design concept courtesy of Front Range Vital Signs

Kevin and Adam at Vital Signs had the graphics printed up over the weekend and got them installed in less than 24 hours for us to make our departure deadline for San Dimas Stage Race and the Redlands Classic!

The final product.  Big thanks to i25Kia.com and Front Range Vital Signs for making it happen!

The final product. Big thanks to i25Kia.com and Front Range Vital Signs for making it happen!

Before.

Before.

After!

After!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's all about the details.

It’s all about the details.

Real D Juniors Program

So I recently signed on to coach the Real D Juniors road program this summer.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the first practice was super fun and I am really looking forward to working with a great bunch of kids this season.  There is an infectious enthusiasm that comes from working with juniors and I am quite certain I will be able to learn a thing or two from them as well!

Meeting up before our first ride.

Meeting up before our first ride.

 

These kids are better in the group ride then plenty of adults I know!

These kids are better in the group ride then plenty of adults I know!

Racing out of Purgatory

I was recently interviewed as part of a piece on the shrinking of domestic elite racing in the U.S. (You can read the article in the February print issue of Velonews.) I felt the tone of the article was a bit negative, and wanted to offer some additional constructive commentary on the topic. It is no secret that several long running teams closed shop at the end of last year, including a couple in our own backyard. In most cases, they were smaller programs competing above their weight for several seasons. This hits very close to home for me, and I have thought long and hard about how to avoid a similar fate.

Domestic elite teams like ours are essentially amateur programs with a National presence. Most have some dedicated staff, and cover rider equipment and travel expenses. (The bigger programs have paid staff and small stipends for some of their riders, but most don’t.) When done right, the only real difference between the cost to run a program like this and a small UCI Continental team should be the salary budget. This is where the problem lies, as crossing the chasm from strong regional program to proper national program is quite a substantial ask in terms of both resources and skill set. While I feel our team has bridged this gap on the sporting side, in order to make a sustainable leap there is more to do on the operating side of our program.

In response to this, here are some things I will be focusing on this coming season:

  1. Know what you want to be: Understand your goals and needs before planning and fundraising begins. If you aspire to run a Continental level program, then soliciting $2k local sponsors is an impractical way to get there. At the same time, if you just want to have a great local Cat1/2 team, pursuing National level brands is probably not going to pan out.
  2. Stay true to #1, but be realistic and flexible: While I would love to have a $1.5M budget and race Tour of California next year that might be too big of a jump from where our program is today. Instead I have set some minimum budget targets in our ‘ask’ with a path on how we can work with a sponsor to get to there from here (and prove our worth along the way).
  3. Get Help: This is likely the biggest lesson I have learned in the last couple years. Once the season starts, I will be mired in the day to day of running the team and helping our riders perform to their fullest. This leaves little time for forward thinking activities like new business development. We already have a great network of friends and fans that have helped me get to this point, and I will be working to formalize some of these relationships moving forward so we can keep building the momentum we have throughout the season.
  4. Be Prepared to Prove it: This is where I still have the most work to do if we want to move up to the “big leagues”. (As do most smaller teams.) I have spoken to this previously, but when you are soliciting bigger money (or product value) you need to be able to provide evidence of proper sponsor activation and ROI. While I think we have done this well for a program at our size, there is much for us to learn as we start to be compared to larger programs. The GM from a larger U.S. professional program recently gave this same advice to me with an added emphasis on the discipline to budget this effort as a major item in our team’s operating budget.

Our 2014 program was the top ranked amateur team in the U.S. and the 8th best team overall against all pro teams. While this is a great accomplishment for a small program, the experience also proved to me that we still have much to learn. In 2015, we will be looking to affirm not only our sporting value, but also that our program has the operational and marketing horsepower to deserve a shot to move up to the next level. It should be a fun ride!

Where we are today.

Where we are today.

 

Where we strive to be!

Where we strive to be!

Some Changes and Reflections

Tomorrow will be the first day in my entire adult life where I am neither enrolled in school nor have full-time employment.   To be fair, this isn’t a surprise and is actually something I had been working on with the management team at Idex Corp for a few months now.  For many reasons, it was the right time for me to leave, and I have been nothing but impressed with the respect the executive team has given me as I worked through the process.  As I spent the last few days wrapping up loose ends, I have had time to reflect on a few things that I thought I would share.

When is it Time to Go?

When the previous company I was at, Precision Photonics (PPC), was acquired in 2012, I really didn’t think I would stick around after the deal was completed.  We had an excellent track record under my tenure as General Manager, and with a successful sale there were plenty of opportunities presented for me to go somewhere else and try to make ‘lightning strike in the same place twice’.  At the same time, there were immense challenges both structurally and culturally when it came to integrating an engineering focused company like PPC into a more financially driven organization.  In the end, my biggest reason for staying was to ensure that the team that helped make me be successful were on their own path to success.  What we tackled to get from there to here could fill a book, but to put it simply I now have a much greater respect for organizational culture and how positive a tool it can be when you understand it (or destructive when you don’t).  This past year, we completed the physical integration of two manufacturing sites, as well as built a more robust commercial and operations infrastructure.    Many of my key team at PPC are now in leadership roles within the new organization and poised to make the decisions to move it forward again.  With the team fully integrated and showing great health, it was finally time for me to move on and pursue those opportunities I put on hold.

(Here is an early pic of me and the founders/owners of Precision Photonics.  I don’t think I even owned a suit back then…)

(Here is a very early pic of me and the founders/owners of Precision Photonics. I don’t think I even owned a suit back then…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Took me so Long?

I would have never guessed I would stay at one organization for 13 years – I am impatient and ambitious. Much of the credit here has to go to the previous ownership of PPC, who being of similar mind, were happy to give anyone that asked enough rope to hang themselves.  That often meant I was put in roles before I perhaps deserved them and had the opportunity to gain a vast deal of experience very quickly.  This accelerated a career that would have typically required several job changes to move forward at the same pace.  Most importantly, it provided an element of loyalty in an otherwise very competitive and entrepreneurial culture.  This is something I always try to replicate in any team I manage.

Giving and Getting Back

I was doing a pretty good job keeping it together saying my goodbyes this week, until one of the technicians that I have worked with for many years gave me a thank you card.  She had experienced a few difficult periods in her life while we worked together, and wanted to thank me for helping her through them.  I hadn’t thought much about it at the time, but to realize I had genuinely touched her life in a positive way was pretty moving.  I can’t say I am particularly brilliant at this other than tending to offer a lot of respect to all levels of the organization, and having high expectations in return.  This means high performing individuals tend to flourish and others tend to not last that long.

I’ve also realized that some of my most rewarding experiences post-acquisition were actually mentoring some of the younger engineers and managers on how to negotiate all of the change.  While I am still young and have plenty to learn myself, I do look forward to continuing to teach and mentor whenever possible.  This is one of the reasons I enjoy running our cycling program so much.

(A more recent photo - I don’t know how much wiser I am now, but I do dress a lot better.)

(A more recent photo – I don’t know how much wiser I am now, but I do dress a lot better.)

What’s Next?

To be honest, I don’t have immediate plans.  I intend to continue to focus on our cycling program, and already have a few consulting projects lined up that I am excited about.  However, a big reason for this change was to allow myself the appropriate time and capacity to decide on the next big project I want to tackle.

In my short career to date; I’ve earned the opportunity to take on huge challenges and learn from them.

I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Ambassador Interview with Panache Cyclewear

My friends over at Panache Cycle-wear recently did an interview with me.  We had some fun with it and you can find it reprinted below:

Who is Nick Traggis? And why should you care?

by Becca Schepps – Panache Cyclewear

nick

If you ever wondered how to bond two pieces of optical glass together without glue or some type of epoxy, then you know Nick Traggis. He’s the man behind Optical Contact Bonding, a process where two closely conformal surfaces are joined together purely by intermolecular forces. What? Exactly. Nanotechnologist Nick Traggis is a super scientist mega-mastermind. He’s also the man behind 2014’s best amateur team in the country, Horizon Organic/Einstein Brothers and the owner of the management company GS CIAO (he’s currently accepting sponsorship applications). Nick is super fast and loves to half wheel on Panache’s Thursday Throwdown. We love Nick. We love  that he pushes the pace in everything he does (including decking out rally cars). So get to know Nick. Hit him up for a ride, but beware, you will be half wheeled.

If you ruled the UCI, what would be your first call of duty? Create a proper team franchise system that allows for long term sponsor ROI as well as stabilize the upper level of the sport.  Shorten most races, allow less riders per team in a race (both which create more dynamic racing and reduce costs), remove rules that discourage technology development from manufacturers, live cameras on bikes in every World Tour race.  But maybe I would just start with something simple like permanent numbers….

If you could make anyone president of the UCI who would it be? Me.

Nick at school group

Here is Nick showing how he’d be good for the future of the sport.

 

If you didn’t ride bikes, what would you do to fill that time instead? Building super cool cars (and driving them).

If you started a rock and roll band, what would the name be? Atomic Lobster

If you had coined a phrase of wisdom, what would it be? Speak with your legs, not your mouth.

If you could sing one song absolutely flawlessly, what song would it be? Thinking About You” (Radiohead; Pablo Honey)

Nick at Valmont Sandpit

You may think this is Nick’s Tongue Out Pain Face, we think he’s singing along to Radiohead.

 

If you could give your 10-year old self one piece of advice, what would it be? Buy stock in Apple.

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? My super badass wife’s (Faith Clauson) championship winning chocolate chip cookies.

If you could never ride a bicycle again and rather had to choose between riding only a recumbent or only a unicycle, which would you pick? Well a recumbent is still a bicycle – just a stupid one, so I would have to pick unicycle.

If you could be any fictional or historical character, who would you be? Every bike racer I looked up to turned out to be both…

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever googled? “hand drawn bear bicycle pictures”.

If you were to star in a reality TV Show, what would it be called? The Big Kona.  (I was sponsored by Kona bicycles in college and always walked around with a big Kona logo on my shirt….the name stuck for anyone who knew me then.)

Can you draw a bear riding a bicycle? Show me. Yes. Done.

Nick's Badass Panache Bear on a bike

Nick tried to cheat (the first image he sent was clearly nicked off the internet (no pun intended). But we can confirm that Nick did indeed draw this.

 

If you could do one sick trick on a bike, what would it be? Anything that involves a Go Pro, Redbull, and massive air.

How do you feel about crisp tan lines? Look awesome everywhere but at weddings and the waterpark.

What’s one thing you never ride without? Panache Cyclewear bib shorts!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve put in your bottles and ridden with? I once finished a trainer session before a party fueled by nothing but Franzia boxed wine.  Does that count?

 

 

Some Recent Podcast Interviews

semi-pro-cyclingApparently some folks are noticing the progress of our program and I’ve been invited to do a couple podcast interviews.  It is always nice to step back and talk about what we are trying to do differently – if nothing else, it helps me remember to see the forest through the trees!  My favorite has to be the recent conversation I had with Damian Ruse of Semipro Cycling.  You can listen to it here. (The actual interview starts at 10:40.)

1400x1400-Icon-150x150

 

I also sat down earlier and had a nice chat with friend and former teammate, Derek Loudermilk, who does the Art of Adventure Podcast.  You can listen to it here.

 

Horizon Organic/Einstein Bros: 2014 Season Recap

We started this year full of hope and potential: we had better sponsorship, a deeper roster, and were ready to prove we belonged at the sharp end at the national level races. Personally, I was also nervous about running the program at a higher level.  As a smaller squad by national standards, would we be able to provide enough support to the riders?  I had set some fairly ambitious goals for the team, and while I was confident in my riders and their potential, I wouldn’t really know what I had gotten us into until the gun went off.

The season long goals I set for us at training camp back in March.

The season long goals I set for us at training camp back in March.

Our first race as the newly revamped Horizon Organic/Einstein Bros team was a local race in CO in February. We won.  Team captain, Chris Winn, remarked about how easy it was to control the race as a team and ‘#teamworkwinsraces’ would be our mantra for the rest of the season.

Josh Yeaton wins the Stazio Criterium! Photo courtesy of Eddie Clark Media.

Josh Yeaton wins the Stazio Criterium! Photo courtesy of Eddie Clark Media.

It was then onto training camp in AZ and the Tucson Bicycle Classic. In the opening time trial, one of our younger riders, Mac Cassin, put in a great ride and finished third behind two well-known pros from Jamis.  The whole team rallied around Mac the rest of the weekend and he held is 3rd spot on GC with Josh and Fabio taking first and second on the final stage.  We were ready for the NRC!

We had to fight for our right at the front of the peloton in the early season races.

We had to fight for our right at the front of the peloton in the early season races.

After a quick trip back home we were off to California for the San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands Bicycle Classic. Highlights of that trip include a visit and tour of Felt Bicycles HQ (and a ride to the beach with Super Dave), and experiencing our first earthquake.  I’ve never had a race start delayed for post-earthquake dam inspections before, so I can add that to the list!  I also got to do my first wheel change from the team car literally 5 seconds into the first stage, so it was nice to get that out of the way. (Thanks Mac.) With all the best teams in the U.S. in attendance, Redlands was admittedly a bit of a shock to the system at first; but we adjusted and Josh Yeaton pulled off a great ride to the take the best amateur jersey on the final day.

Josh wins our first leader's jersey of the season at Redlands! Photo courtesy of Kat Winn.

Josh wins our first leader’s jersey of the season at Redlands! Photo courtesy of Kat Winn.

After our California campaign it was time to head east to Fayetteville, AR for the Joe Martin Stage Race. After applying lessons learned from the first big races of the year we were more prepared and the guys rode super well with Clayton Feldman riding like a monster to make the break in every road stage and Emerson Oronte having a great TT and strong ride to finish 4th overall on GC.  The low/highlight of the week was when Emerson crashed hard on the final stage, but the guys rallied around him to see him through to the finish.  I felt pretty helpless watching from the side of the road, but at least was able to get the announcer and crowd to rally around him to the finish!  (Also big thanks to Ron from CycleOps for keeping us out of the rain and hooking me up with a ‘VIP ride’ of the crit course!)

“I was on the verge of tears watching a bloodied Emerson finish a very difficult crit in the rain with the help of his teammates to move into 4th overall at the Joe Martin Stage Race.  The result was his (and the team’s) best result ever at the time.”

“I was on the verge of tears watching a bloodied Emerson finish a very difficult crit in the rain with the help of his teammates to move into 4th overall at the Joe Martin Stage Race. The result was his (and the team’s) best result ever at the time.”

Immediately after Joe Martin (and by immediately I mean three hours) we hit the road for Silver City, NM for the UCI 2.2 Tour of the Gila. This is one of the best stage races in North America and we were excited to see how we stacked up.  Unfortunately we would never really get the chance as one of the worst crashes any of us had ever seen occurred on the first road stage taking down over 60 riders.  Our team was one of the worst affected and we would end up losing 5 out of 8 riders to injuries sustained in that crash.  Josh and Clayton were the worst off and would miss a good portion of the season.  We would limp through the rest of the race but we were honestly pretty demoralized after seeing so many friends drive away in the Ambulance.  One of the good things that came out of this experience was the outpouring of support from the community.  We did a ‘crowd sourcing’ fund raiser to replace broken equipment and help with medical expenses and raised over $7,000.  I was proud to be able to hand a check to both Josh and Clayton to help cover a portion of their bills.

Clayton and Josh keeping a positive attitude after a crappy day at the office.

Clayton and Josh keeping a positive attitude after a crappy day at the office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Gila, we had a bit of break from the NRC schedule so we spent some time back in CO doing local racing. It is always fun to apply what we learn at the bigger races at the regional events and the results almost always follow.   The next race on the NRC calendar was the Northstar Grand Prix (formerly Nature Valley Grand Prix).  This is one of our favorite races of the calendar and suits the ‘all-rounder’ nature of our roster quite well.  The boys didn’t disappoint with Fabio Calabria riding himself into the breakaway on the second road stage to take the KOM jersey and a close second on the stage.  The guys rode great in the final stage to defend Fabio’s jersey and Chris Winn even rallied to a 5th on the stage.  A great turnaround after the Gila!

Chris takes the win at the Superior Morgul Classic RR!

Chris takes the win at the Superior Morgul Classic RR!

 

Fabio takes second on the stage and the KOM jersey!
Fabio takes second on the stage and the KOM jersey!

 

 

I had some fun showing off our bikes to the Cannon Falls summer reading group.
I had some fun showing off our bikes to the Cannon Falls summer reading group.

 

Not to be outdone, Chris, Kit Recca, and Emerson would ride like 9 men at the Elite National Championships RR a few weeks later with Emerson taking the win and the Stars and Stripes Jersey! This was a huge result for the team and confirmation that Emerson belongs back in the pro ranks as soon as possible!

Emerson wins the National Elite RR title!

Emerson wins the National Elite RR title!

Our friends at Panache Cyclewear did a great job of turning a Stars and Stripes kit around for Emerson before the Cascade Classic, and we were definitely looking the part! Unfortunately, everyone was a bit flat that week and we never really put together a strong result.  We would take our frustration out on the local peloton for the next month or so as we prepared for the final race of the season, the UCI 1.2 Thompson Buck’s County Classic. The guys rode like champions all weekend and Fabio pulled off some great results with an 8th in the road race and a 4th in the criterium and the sprint jersey.  It was great to see how much respect out team has earned in the peloton over the course of the season and close things out in style!

The team was sporting special Panache stars and bars socks in honor of our national championship!  (Fabio kept a little Aussie flair as well!)

The team was sporting special Panache stars and bars socks in honor of our national championship! (Fabio kept a little Aussie flair as well!)

Not every race goes this well, but it is pretty fun when it does!
Not every race goes this well, but it is pretty fun when it does!

 

 

Fabio rode like ten angry men to take the sprint jersey at the Doylestown Criterium.

Fabio rode like ten angry men to take the sprint jersey at the Doylestown Criterium.

 

Did I mention our man Jake Duehring won gold in the PanAm championships Madison racing for the U.S.?
Did I mention our man Jake Duehring won gold in the PanAm championships Madison racing for the U.S.?

 

So how did we stack up overall? Well looking at our goals from the spring goes something like this: #1, check. #2, damn close.  #3, check. #4, check!  We took 20 victories and over 50 podium placings.  We would finish the season as the 8th ranked team on the NRC calendar and the best amateur team in the U.S.!  More importantly for me was that every rider on the roster contributed to these results and even our veteran riders had their best seasons to date. (Devo doesn’t stop after age 23…)

We couldn’t have done any of this without the support of our extended team. So to all our sponsors, host families, friends, and fans.  Thank You!

#teamworkwinsraces

Moving at the Speed of our Riders

Emerson Oronte won the U.S. Elite Road National Championships at approximately 1:20PM Mountain Time on July 3rd, 2014.  (I know because that is when my phone exploded.)  The first road stage of the Cascade Classic (the next race in the National Racing Calendar) started today at 10:30AM in Bend, Oregon.  This means that our team clothing sponsor, Panache Cyclewear, had ~1.5 weeks to turn around a custom stars and stripes team kit for Emerson before our next big race.  With typical custom clothing turnarounds in the 6-8 week time frame, this is a tall ask for any manufacturer and requires everyone to pull out all the stops.  I thought it would be fun to go through the time line on how it all went down:

July 3rd, 2014; 1:20PM: Emerson Wins!

Emerson wins the 2014 U.S. Elite National Road Race!

 

July 3rd, 2014; 1:28PM: I send a note to Don and Charlie at Panache telling them the good news (and to get to work!)

photo phone

 

July 7th, 2014: Don generates the jersey design proof for approval, and submits it to the prototype shop in their factory in Romania.

Horizon-Einstein - SS BIB WARMERS

July 14th, 2014: The one off V-lab kit shows up in Boulder, CO.  Panache throws in some well coordinated socks and podium hat for good measure!

Final Kit

July 15th, 2014: I get on a plane and meet the guys before the start of the evening prologue to kick off the Cascade Cycling Classic, with fresh team kit in hand!

July 16th, 2014: Emerson and the team before the start of stage 1 and our first opportunity to represent the stars and bars!

Emerson gets to model his new kit for the first time.

Emerson gets to model his new kit for the first time.

 

The team will be sporting special Panache stars and bars socks in honor of our new national championship!  (Fabio keeps a little Aussie flair as well!)

The team will be sporting special Panache stars and bars socks in honor of our new national championship! (Fabio keeps a little Aussie flair as well)