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In the metaphysical world, Turquoise lends a positive mental state of creativity, intuition, sensitivity, and serenity. In the cycling world, TJ Eisenhart is the quintessence and embodiment of Turquoise, the stone of communication. Make no mistake, this isn't a character he could break. We venture to TJ's own training playground in Southern Utah where the only escape from impending doom of suffer is to vibe out, brah. Ride the wave with us in Zion National Park for our fourth episode of Riding Fixed, Up Mountains, With Pros.
The journey from Phoenix, AZ takes us around Grand Canyon through the Vermillion Cliffs. Just below them runs the "Honeymoon Trail", a wagon route that Mormons historically traveled onward to be married in the St. George Temple, which isn't too far off from our own objective with King Wavvy. As the road twists through the mountains, "controlled burning" also foreshadows the day to come.
We pick up our own Scott Piercefield (who you should already be familiarized with from Episode 2) literally off of the street in St. George. I've traveled with Scott enough to recognize a pattern of strange arrival times and gather that the flight he booked was an allowance for generous day drinking. Upon our arrival into the holy city, we pull up to his pin, holler the code word "benis" out the window, and drive off with a very drunk Scott.
TJ is in the mood for landlocked desert sushi, and by all means we reward the good boys with Utah's best in the Yakuza room of Sakura. Pictured left-to-right: Saxon (videographer), TJ and girlfriend Heather, Mehdi (team dad), and Scott.
Current Utah law sets a limit of 3.2% alcohol by weight, which is roughly 4% by volume, and by my calculation Scott drank about six liters to have this much fun unpacking and building his bike.
I reckon the copious amounts of alcohol expunged any inhibition to gear his bike appropriately rather than the liquid-courageously proper "Piercefield ratio" of 51x15 that none of us remember him debating at all. On a modern 22-speed road bike, that's about equivalent to mashing the fifth highest gear only – for a 6500 ft climb. You do you, Scott.
In the morning, the breakfast boys bite hard, and we leave our AirBnB to meet TJ at River Rock Roasting Co. for coffee and staging.
We're all delighted to find out that TJ's bike was shipped without brakes. Jk, not delightful, and we reserve a bathroom stall at work for mistakes like these to discipline with a humiliating swirly.
In most excellent, gentlemanly fanboy form, Scott offers up not only his brakes but also his bars with hoods so that the good boys can descend together. For any of you that haven't suffered on a bicycle, the most comfortable position for climbing out of the saddle, which due to his choice in gear ratio is inevitable, is on the brake hoods. I almost forgot to mention that he raced a crit the day before. At this point Scott has fucked himself.
We haven't made it out of the parking lot and Scott has made a fanboy of TJ.
"You're redefining what I ever even thought was possible on a bike. Your skills are incredible. You like, just made the bike a part of you, man. Not a lot of people have that."
TJ defines brah:
"If I'm calling you, like, my brah, you're like, pretty close to me."
They're off to a great start, but TJ's wearing so much jewelry we have to reposition his mic. We don't dare ask him to remove a single necklace. Would you ask Samson for a lock of hair?
Scott holds it together surprisingly well considering that TJ is probably the strongest climber that we've interviewed. However, below is a small study in composure loss:
TJ's acute sensitivity kicks in and he offers advise. Apparently sweaty gloves function as well as ammonia inhalants to arouse consciousness.
"Smell your fingers, brah."
"Dude, we're not even at the steep part yet."
Now's a better time than ever to take a break, show TJ how Scott deepthroats bananas, try on some new gaff tape colors, check audio levels, and mount the follow rig. TJ's dad came along for the whole ride, and he follows EVERY one of TJ's training rides in that Kia Soul too. Take a lesson, dads.
Btw, dear Dodge Grand Caravan (DGC), sponsor us pls, ty.
We pass a cattle guard and enter the threshold of Zion.
Utah State's first national park, Zion is a 229 square-mile vibrant wonderland of enchantment that has very apparently shaped TJ's athleticism and personality. He claims this very road to have been the landmark of his come-to-cyling moment, and it's easy to see why.
Scott: "I've got no more leg speed."
TJ: "I've gotta just carry this gear, man. We can talk in the middle."
Scott: "I'm such an idiot."
While TJ carries momentum ahead, Scott's composure and attitude while suffering is beyond impressive. I later find out that what really got him through this hurdle was anticipating the big reveal of his tan lines. There simply doesn't exist a more devout follower of the Velominati.
Scott: "I'm Zone 3."
TJ: "Zone 3, what does that even mean??"
Scott: "You got three zones. You got your cute zone, your kissing zone, and your fun zone."
Not Zone 3.
100% FUN ZONE RIDE THE WAVE MAN
I'll admit that I can't wait to get to the bottom of the turquoise necklace.
Teej goes into great detail, but apparently he was getting ready for a date that he bought "this brand-new kick-ass Nirvana t-shirt and sick jacket" for, then opens this arbitrary drawer and up levitates thee necklace, and the ensemble is complete.
"I'm looking at myself in the mirror, and I'm like, 'WHOA. I am NEVER taking this off.'"
Nirvana is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.
I wonder if TJ is aware that he's more familiar with the nearly impossible human triumph that is Nirvana than the 90s rock band, Nirvana.
The sun comes out for just a bit, and they're clearly becoming brahs. As soon as the clouds move in again the chilly boys need to warm up.
"You know how you get warmed up? You attack."
We reach the end of the road, and victory quickly turns anxious as we remember what Scott came all this way to do. There's no better place than the top of this most epic climb for Scott to propose best friendship to TJ.
"Alright TJ, I feel like we really bonded today in beautiful Utah. I feel like we kind of came together. We shared energy, and I think we're closer now than we've ever been. I'd like to present [to] you – would you be my B.F.F.?"
HE SAID YES!
There's a short moment of contemplation. Can I really do this? Can I be the BEST friend? Forever?
You kidding? They tied those bracelets up faster than you can say, "smell my fingers, brah."
Follow camera goes back on the DGC and we descend. It's been a topic of serious discussion whether or not to clarify in text during the descending footage, "NOT SPED UP". Scott is actually that much of a lunatic, and his legs are actually spinning that fast.
Scott: "You got a good life."
TJ: "WE have a good life, brah. WE got it goin' on, brah."
Late lunch with happy hungry boys back at River Rock Roasters. I'll forever remember that this is the last time I'll ever have tuna salad. Peace be with.
Thank you, TJ Eisenhart, and big ups to Scott P. Thank YOU for following along, and get excited for a new host and very strong and special guest in Episode 5!