Josh’s Jabber: First Impressions Last, Right?

Josh Carlson should need little introduction.  Since moving to Canada from Wollongong Josh has hit the Northern American race scene like the fire colour of his hair.  Josh is teaming up with Flow for a regular piece on his adventures and travels and we’re happy to have him on board.

Read on as Josh explains how he made a huge first impression on his new bosses.

There is a reason we have used this photo.  We remember this absolute cracker of a shot GIANT used as a poster and introduction to the media last year, however we didn’t know the story behind the photoshoot.

“In 2012 I debuted with the GIANT Factory Off-road team to focus on racing enduro and cross country events. I was brought onto the team as a ‘see how he goes over the year’ type of rider and I was in a tough position where every race counted and first impressions lasted.

Well, didn’t I make an impression to remember!

My first introduction to the global team and GIANT family was in Los Angeles at our team camp. All our team riders and staff gathered for a week of riding, photo shoots, media appointments and bike fittings in preparation for the year of racing and riding ahead. I was one of the first riders to land in LA and got to meet most of the team staff before I met the rest of my new team during the photo shoots and other activities.

The second day was a big day of photo shoots with my cross country/enduro team mates Carl Decker and Kelli Emmett, two legends of the sport and long time GIANT riders. We headed out into the moonscape hills of LA and embarked of a very LONG hot day of corners, jumps, rock gardens and blue steels – repeated 50 times!  7.30am we were piled into the team truck, loaded up with our freshly built 2012 bikes dripping with bling and shinier than diamonds. For me, I was WELL excited about shredding on my new rig and riding with my new teammates.

After a long day with plenty of laughs and some great shots, we pilled back into the truck and headed back to our hotels for some grub and well earned rest before heading over to GIANT HQ to meet our bosses and the office crew of worker bees that make GIANT Bicycles what it is.

It was about 8.15pm by this stage and just on dusk as we drove back along the 101 hwy in LA. We were all chatting away about this and that and Kelli was telling us a story of how she was driving along a freeway and a table she had in the back of her pickup truck had somehow removed itself and exploded into a million pieces on the freeway behind her. Another story of an unfortunate highway trip followed from me about the time I lost my Honda 125 off the back of my dad’s work ute back when I was a junior, as we headed to a local motocross race at Oran Park.

Then our driver keeps looking in the rear view mirror and says, “well speaking of losing stuff out of the back of trucks, I think we have lost a blanket!”

Carl and I were in the back seat, and we turn around and check out the bikes and the missing blanket in the back of the tray. We then turn back around and stare at each other for a second.

‘That’s funny,’ Carl says. We both turn around again and counted the bikes in the back of the truck. We then looked back at each other with the same bewildered look on our faces.

‘Didn’t we have four bikes hanging over the tailgate?!’ Carl questioned.

We turn and look for a third time, this time painstakingly counting and taking notice of what bikes were there.

‘AHH SHIT!! WE’VE LOST A BIKE IN THAT BLANKET!,’ were the next words and thoughts in EVERYONE’S minds and out of EVERYONE’S mouths.

We came to a screeching halt on the side of the four-lane crazy US freeway and pulled into the emergency lane. By this stage it was pretty much dark and well and truly into peak traffic on one of the busiest freeways in LA.

Carl and I jump out of the truck and proceed to sprint back toward the oncoming traffic in the emergency lane, hugging the huge concrete barriers at the same time. All we could see were headlights screaming at us at literally 100mph as we ran back up the freeway like crazy frogs from an 80’s arcade game!

As I dodged life and death mixed thoughts of disbelief and anxiety ran through my head.

‘It couldn’t have been my bike’, were the self doubting words that circled my head.  ‘Mine was in the middle?!’

My bike had two bikes on one side of it, and another on the other side. We had wrapped a blanket around my bike and all four bikes were jammed up against one another so they wouldn’t fly out of the back. The blanket was to protect it! When we left, there was 100% no doubt in our minds that they were secure and safe.

They obviously weren’t LA freeway safe!

Carl and I continued our gauntlet of death sprinting it up the emergency lane for what felt like hours. All of a sudden we noticed the cars were starting to chicane across the freeway and headlights are swinging all over the road. We start to hear horrible sounds, like shrapnel and a glass jar half full of ball bearings.

‘Oh shit!’, I said to myself.

Then as we get closer the we start to see shards of carbon fibre getting sprayed all over the freeway and spokes being flung up into car headlights!

By this stage we were pressed firmly up against the wall, about 20 metres from what appears to be my formerly pimped-out-brand-spanking-new-only-ridden-once Trance.

In between herds of cars, we take turns at chicken, running out into the traffic to pull in handfuls of carbon fibre and bike parts. First was the wheels, tyres, crank arms and fork legs. Next was the down tube, seat, brake line and front rotor (which was now embedded into my rear tyre). It was absolutely terrifying standing that close to the crazy LA traffic, let alone with 7 million pieces of GIANT Trance being thrown around like a ball in a pinball machine!

We had collected four solid handfuls of bike pieces and were still firmly pressed against the wall as we both stared at my white RockShox Monarch shock staring at us, right in the path of the oncoming traffic. We had to move quickly and get the shock out of the way.  We again played chicken with the LA traffic and somehow kicked it off the road.

‘Pheww!’ we expressed, as we saved a car, and maybe ourselves from harm.

By this stage its pitch black and we can barely see anything. Carl and I picked up as many bits of the bike as we could and we made our way back to the truck. Along the way we start to see other pieces of pedal, crank, brake cables and wheels spokes littered along the emergency lane all the way back to the truck. However, we notice one solid looking bit only a few metres from the truck. It was the seat post clamp part of the frame, which had a GIANT team sticker with my name on it. We grabed it as a ‘memento’ and piled into the truck in disbelief.

As we get back to the hotel, I hand our team manager the piece of frame with my name on it.

‘I think I might have cracked my frame,’ I said with a face painted with a look of horror.

We checked out the piles of bike in the back of the pickup with my bike looking like it had been put in a huge industrial blender and then spat out. It is unrecognisable and turned out to not have one single, bolt or piece on it salvageable for a new one.

The next day I walked into GIANT HQ and met a whole bunch of awesome people.

“Hi I’m Josh…,’ I sheepishly said as I began to introduce myself.

However, before I could get any further into my introduction I was cut off mid sentence.

‘Oh, you’re the new guy whose bike was destroyed. HOLY CRAP!’

At least they knew my name and I had made a lasting first impression.”

It may not be the best image but here’s the most useful part of the bike that remained.


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