It really is all about the journey. (Or just Journey, if you're referring to our 12 AM singalong to Don't Stop Believing)
Most people know Justin Lindine as the quiet, sedate Honey Badger, who gives it everything when he's on the course, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Some people know him from Jeremy Durrin's live tweets of their drive to Kentucky last season, and those who know him from that know him as the excitable pop-song blaring bike racer who is just pumped about racing. So… will the real Justin Lindine please stand up?
After making the same sojourn with him this year, I can (almost) answer that. Or, at least, I can say without a doubt that Lindine can spit out Eminem lyrics like it's 1999 and we're at a high school dance, though this time around, we get to listen to the uncensored versions.
I'll take it back a few steps, to better explain how I ended up in a truck with Lindine for 35 hours …
Many of you New Englanders (and US 'crossers in general) know the name Justin Lindine, or, as he's more commonly referred to, The Honey Badger. And you may have read his defense of his car ride/pre-race playliston this very site last year, after fellow 'crosser Jeremy Durrin outed him on Twitter as a Ke$ha-listening road trip superstar. After following both the live-tweeting of the trip and the aftermath, I couldn't help but feel like Lindine and I were kindred spirits. Any racer with Party in the USA and We Are Who We Are on a playlist seems like a pre-race soulmate to me, since my iPod features nearly the same playlist.
Jump ahead nearly a year, and that same USGP race in Louisville was on the horizon, I had moved to Lindine's neck of the woods, and the Honey Badger and his awesome wife had become regulars at dinner at my new homestead. So when he mentioned that he was planning to again drive the 17 hours to Kentucky to race, I jumped at the chance to casually suggest that we road trip down together.
He accepted, and the road trip to Kentucky for 2012 had begun.
The trip started the day of the Nor'Easter, a Wednesday like any other day. Lindine (I still can't bring myself to call him Justin after a year of writing about him strictly by last name) and I opted to take my truck since I can't drive a standard (no commentary on this, please!) and as we backed out of the driveway, I was struck with a teensy bit of trepidation: what in the hell would we possibly talk about for the 10 hours in the car before we reached Pittsburgh?
Like many awkward new friends, we turned to the obvious: bike racing and the weather. The snowy skies ahead allowed for exchanging pleasantry after pleasantry, until those "Look at the big snowflakes" turns into bleeped out yelling about visibility issues. Still, despite the fact that my driving in weather is harrowing for me, terrifying for anyone in the car, Lindine kept his wits about him.
When it was finally my turn to play passenger, I finally got to do what I'd been waiting nearly a year to do: check out the famed Pump It Up playlists on the Honey Badger's iPod.
It was exactly as awesome and hilarious as I could have hoped. But what actually blew past my expectations was Lindine himself: crank the tunes and it's like a switch flips. Gone is the quiet guy with the shy smile that I've interviewed many, many times. Instead, there's a seat-rocking, lip-syncing, rapping, partying guy, though the smile doesn't really change. Not only were there the Top 40 pop hits that Durrin had alluded to last year, there was some rap (both of the awesomely good and awesomely cheesy variety), some hard rock (Offspring was heavily featured) and even a country jam or two. There was some requisite indie tune-age as well, but let's face it, when you get the chance to croon along to "Party in the USA" with someone, well, Pixies be damned.
And when we both made the exact same hand gestures during the lines, "Now you wanna run around and talk about guns like I ain't got none / What, you think I sold them all?" as we ineptly rapped along to Forgot About Dre, I knew this was a road trip gone perfectly right.
By the end of the trip, we had accomplished what few friends can really do: we had stayed in a car for over 30 hours in the span of 6 days, lived in adjacent rooms, hung out at the same team tent, ate at the same places and spent nearly every waking minute together, and remained friends.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm in the middle of cooking dinner for some Western Mass. cyclists, including the Honey Badger and wife. Also, Ke$ha just came on and I need to dance around the kitchen.