Inside the Caravan: Road trips, early alarms and problem solving. The season approaches

Wahoooga .... Wahoooga ... Anyone that owns an iPhone knows this noise. That terribly annoying alarm is how I started what could have been a normal Thursday. It wasn't though.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a new regular column on, written by Omer Kem, the new head director of the Bissell Pro Cycling team. The column will give an inside-the-caravan view of the domestic race scene this year.

Everyday is something new….

Wahoooga …. Wahoooga … Anyone that owns an iPhone knows this noise. That terribly annoying alarm is how I started what could have been a normal Thursday. It wasn’t though, it was time for the 2011 cycling season to start, and start it shall….

Part of my job as head director for Bissell Pro Cycling is as a problem solver. For example …

Problem: The team car/van is old and tired.

Solution: Omer finds 2011 wagon and 2011 15 passenger van for CHEAP.

Problem: Awesome sponsor Yakima will rack vehicles but typically sends everything to team service course in Santa Rosa, California. Then mechanics install. Seems inefficient.

Solution: Omer lives in Salem. Has team car/van after arranging purchase. Yakima is 45 minutes away. Arrange for vehicle rack install. Meet new friends at Yakima.

Problem: New car, new van need to get from Salem, Oregone to Santa Rosa, California. 500+ miles.

Solution: Omer drives from Salem to Santa Rosa. Drops off team car. Catches flight with Bissell Pro Cycling team sougneur to Portland, Oregon. . Round trip: 15 hours. 9 hours driving. 2 hours airport delay. 2 hours flight. Organize pick up by super bad a## Dylan from Yakima who happens to have team van. Then drive to Salem. Sougneur leaves at 7 next morning to drive to Santa Rosa. Vehicles transfered.

So this leads me to my journey to Santa Rosa. That damned alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. and I was out the door at 6 a.m. Nine hours alone in the car gives you some time to think. This may or may not be a bad thing depending on the person, but no matter what there will be some periods of self reflection. I thought about my wife, my life, my job(s), my family and everything in between. There were no profound moments, well maybe one … But really I thought I was lucky. Lucky you might say??? Yes, lucky. Yesterday I was making a spreadsheet that represented the calendar year for the Bissell Pro Cycling Team, today I am driving to Santa Rosa and then flying home because I dont want to spend a day away from my wife. Tomorrow will be something new and equally entertaining. So yes, I am lucky. Everyday I get to do something different but interesting/strange/unique at the same time. Lucky …

The season is fast approaching. Riders are preparing for the team training camp starting February 25th in Santa Rosa. Team staff are preparing for the long season ahead. The team’s amazing sponsors are shipping equipment so it’s ready for the next nine months. I am looking forward to seeing everyone and getting the racing started.

Ten years ago I would have never told you I would be a pro bike racer. Two years ago I never would have thought that I would be retired. One year ago I never would have guessed that I would be head director of a cycling team. Everyday is something new and exciting and I can’t wait to see what the future brings. The season starts now and please join me for all the highs and lows of the next nine months.

Thanks for reading.

Omer Kem
Bissell Pro Cycling

Omer Kem

Omer Kem lives in Oregon with his wife. In addition to driving the team car for Bissell Pro Cycling, he is the membership director for the Oregon Bicycle Racing Assoc and a cycling coach. You can follow him at, @bissellcycling and @okracing. Please feel free to contact him at