Thursday, May 20, 2010
Tour of Cali
After a great couple of days with the Tri-ers, I rested up for a bit of an evening and most of a morning before heading out again to meet Leslie, her tri-friend Lorna, and Leslie's 15-month-old bucket of adorable, aka Celio. Leslie is the Queen of viewing the Tour of California, and has leveraged her flexible schedule, spacious van, and sporadically amenable husband into some great roadtrips following the race through northern and central parts of the state. She scopes out where the post-race peeing van is, where the team buses are, and how to get to where the riders are going to be after each stage. She has a jersey and a visor covered with autographs, and a bunch of cool photos. Now, however, she has Celio, so our plan was a little more social, less hard core viewing.
I wrestled with the flat on the front tire of my Specialized so I could ride it into town. I knew the Sacramento Area Bike Advocates were providing free valet bike parking, but I was still nervous about leaving the LeMond, even in a guarded pen. Am I obsessive? Not by cycling standards, no.
It was a gorgeous ride into town, at least until I reached the streets around the Blue Diamond plant, ground zero for Sacramento's large homeless community. Some broken glass and a few catcalls were the only unpleasantnesses though. And many of the folks without houses are part of the cycling community. I've seen a lot of water bottles and firewood transported on bike racks and trailers. We nod to each other on the trails, worlds apart but for the bikes.
Down around the Capitol, though, the mood was festive in the extreme. A big expo with all things bicycle, a huge crowd all along the route, and a hum of excitement in the air. Some of the biggest teams and cycling stars in the world had passed on the Giro d'Italia to prep for the Tour de France in California. Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara (Fabian!), Tom Boonen, Jens Voigt, Mick Rogers, Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie, and that Armstrong guy - it was awesome. I was delighted and proud to see a race of this caliber in my home city, with such huge crowds. I could hear a lot of conversation as I moved along and the spectators knew their cycling, too.
Valet bike parking was just as wonderful as you would imagine, and I gladly stuffed a few bucks in the donation jar. Cities need more of this.
I bought like 13 pairs of cycling socks that were on killer sale. Some of them were random, but they were all cheap, and none of them were white. White cycling socks get too dirty, too fast.
The race itself whizzed by in a blur, three times around the finishing circuit, a flash of yellow and white, and Mark Cavendish took out a prestige win in the final sprint. Leslie and Lorna and Celio and I scooted around in search of autographs, but the cyclists were spirited away into their buses pretty quickly. Celio didn't care; he was asleep. While he was awake, he was delightful, and I do not say that lightly since I am not a baby person. Babies have to impress me on their own merits; they don't get points just for being babies.
I'm feeling kind of disjointed tonight. What was my point? Oh, yeah. Cycling is super fun. It's super fun being on a bike; it's super fun watching the best bike riders on the planet ride their bikes; and it's super fun buying cycling socks. If you get the chance to do any of these things, do them.