February 19th, 2008

TDF

ToC - Stage 1, Sausalito to Santa Rosa


George Hincapie
Originally uploaded by gnat23
Monday morning, woke up and lazily got some coffee, hitting the road to Sausalito with Ace for the start of stage 1. How surreal it was to have company for once! Someone wonderful to talk to for several hours in the car instead of just singing along with Spice Girls like I did last year. I got to point to some roads: I've biked that, that stretch is fun, then you'd turn left here and go on to such-and-such hill... *bragbrag*

Scoring some sweet parking for Nermal near the starting line, we skipped over to the expo for sightseeing. Booths, equipment, coupons, sales, and even a bike-powered blender ("For zero-emission smoothies!") were showcased. Then, a quick walk to the starting line, where the sign-in table perfectly positioned all the riders to linger by us. Bon chance! Ace would call out, and I'd politely translate.

So, hey, how freakin' cool is it that Super Mario Cipollini is racing again?? Now I want to take Cheddar's front wheel to him and have him sign it, just so I can take it back to the bike shop where the mechanic made fun of them. Punkass! Anyhoo, Cipo looks in fine shape (and had bodyguards dressed in black, even!) and I'd be thrilled to see him pull off a classic sprint in person. Being sponsored by, get this, one of those hip clothing companies that charges $200 for a hooded sweatshirt. And by golly, that team has a pretty sweet looking kit, De Rosa bikes, Campagnolo, Caddilac limos... Must be nice to be the king.

We cheered on the start of the race, and once the racers left the starting gate, we ourselves ran to the street to see the neutral laps. Bettini continues to crack me up by hanging out in the last-most place each lap. You know. Chillin'.

So the race was off, and Ace and I hopped back in the car to haul-ass to Santa Rosa. I made excellent time, which gave us opportunity to sit down for a real meal and I wouldn't have to subject him to my peanut butter jelly routine. We wandered the expo at the finish, stood in line for hot chocolate, danced to the band groovin' in the court, and positioned ourselves in the circuit for pictures.

I will say that technology has really changed how this all works for me! Remember last year when I would have to sit and wait for two hours for the peloton to appear, and I was scared to even run off for a bathroom for fear of missing anything? No longer! I was obsessed for a while with trying to get race radio, but I guess it's useless if you're more than 10 miles away. So instead, I now have a bookmark in my Blackberry for live race updates, and hooboy did I feel cool. I was announcing who was in the lead before it was broadcast it over the loudspeaker.

Couldn't see the finish. Heard it! Haedo seems to adore this tour.

Long drive back, lots of traffic, which was annoying. I was amused when I got stuck behind a Ford F-350, raised up on it's gigantic knobby wheels, mud all over the wells, and a single bumper sticker that said "THINK GREEN!"

I'm going to try to get to the top of Sierra tomorrow. Since there is rain in the forecast, I shall not be riding it, nor will any promises of blankets or hot chocolate bring me anywhere *near* Hamilton by bike *or* foot. Screw. That. Just, yah.