Stage 13 – Time Trial from Southern France to Home
So we got off the Col d Tourmalet at around 9 pm, and I had a flight to catch at 11:20 the next morning in Amsterdam. Only one problem – the GPS said it would take 14 hours to get to Amsterdam and I still had to return the car and pack up everything. Why I didn’t realize this math wasn’t going to work out before I booked my flight is beyond me. I’m pretty optimistic about things. Sometimes it helps me, sometimes it hurts.
Lei and I traded off driving all night. I hadn’t slept much for the last few days, was freezing from the day in the rain and tired from the whole two weeks. The last thing I wanted to do was a 14 hour drive.
About 8 hours into it I realized we weren’t going to make it. In America I can usually outrun the GPS, but in France my Garmin always gives me way too rosy of drive time projections. Every hour we drove, it would push back our arrival time.
I had about 10 minutes of phone time left, which I used to call my wife, Olivia, to ask her to change my flight. I called her back and she told me that the new fee was $800 more and that the earliest I could leave was on Monday. My flight was originally on Friday, so I’d have to spend the whole weekend in Amsterdam. The Gods were conspiring against me.
We finally made it to Amsterdam and by the time I returned the car and took a train back to the hotel, it was 9 pm. Our hotel room was actually smaller than our campervan, which meant that Lei and I would have one final night of cuddling .
Amsterdam is great. It has such a popular cycling culture. I biked around town a bit and on almost every road there is also a bike lane filled with cyclists. It is definitely a place I’d like to visit again. And some of the architecture is incredible. Here are a few photos.
We ordered the largest taxi we could find and used every inch of it to carry our two bike cases and bottle cases. I really need to develop a collapsible bottle costume. I figure I could develop something kind of like a pop up tent, it would look 90% as good and be so much more portable. Lugging around a 5 foot tall costume throughout Europe makes for great blogging, but horrible travelling. If anyone knows someone who can make something for me please let me know!
I got to the airport and spent another hour trying to talk down the airlines from the price they were quoting to transport the Bottle Boy costumes (they wanted 300 euros each plus 200 euros for my bike bag!). Then I wheeled the boxes around and got on the flight.
I had a layover in Detroit and actually had to pick up the bottle boxes and bike case and check them in again. I couldn’t believe it – why couldn’t they check them in all the way through? I half expected Ashton Kutcher to jump out and yell “surprise – you’re punked!”
I finally made it home and as I walked out toward baggage claim I saw my Dad waiting to greet me. He yelled out, as loud as he could, “hey look everyone, its Bottle Boy!!”. Gotta love the parental pride.
So, the trip was tough, but it was SO worth it. It was incredible to get the flood of emails from people telling me how much they loved seeing Bottle Boy run at the tour. People told me they’d bet one another to see who could find me first. One guy told me he had a drinking game with his friends where they’d have to do a shot every time they saw me. I guess there was something about a crazy looking giant Bottle running in the middle of nowhere in the midst of a serious, dramatic bike race, that is funny and it feels great to know I gave people a laugh.
And the sales have been incredible. Prior to the Tour we received 10-15 online orders a day, which I was very happy with. In ONE day during the tour we received 570! My dad, who was managing the orders while I was gone, was freaking out! I’ve been back now for a week and we are just now catching up. And right after the flood of online orders came the flood of retail and distributor orders. We’ve hired 6 high school and college kids from the neighborhood to help us pack. We are also quickly running out of inventory, which is a good problem to have, but still a problem.
My hope is that this is the beginning of something great for Clean Bottle. I believe we are solving a real problem that people have with cleaning out bottles and are doing it with a high quality product at a fair price. It’s my goal to keep all of our customers happy and smiling. This is going to be an amazing journey and I am excited for it and look forward to continue to share it with all of you.
Thanks for reading!