Dropped Ace off with a kiss at the airport bright and early, which got me back on the road just in time for a massive traffic jam on the way to Solvang. Some 5ish hours through the rain and a quick stop for gas and craft supplies (for hat) later, I arrived to my Danish-kitchville with The Unfrosted Kringle. I got Cheddar-bike out and rode up the familiar hill, but THIS time, with almost 300 miles ridden prior to Da Tour, I didn't huff and puff; go legs! I parked the bike, got a tank of coffee at the Bulldog, chatted with the guys at the Slipstream tent, wandered over to get cash from a Rabobank ATM, and finally settled on the barrier near the final 150km.
OMG, I have not previously heard cheering for Levi like I did today. His last sprint to the finish to keep the yellow jersey was unreal, and the crowd went appropriately nuts. Too. Cool.
I couldn't get to the stage to see the jersey presentation, so instead I went on "Operation Fishin' Cipo" and headed to the Rock Racing truck to see if I could get Mario to sign my bike tire. I didn't find him, but I got tips on where to snag him tomorrow. I did, however, get Tyler Hamilton's autograph. Hee!
Got to Santa Barbara in the early evening and got really introspective.
I recognize that attending the entire Tour of California last year changed my thinking about myself. It made me realize who I am and what makes my heart sing: I am adventurous. This is one thing I love to do, and I am so glad that I am doing this again.
I walk some of the same sidewalks in these cities that I did last year, and I alternate between the unfamiliar, the exotic, and memories returning as a blossom in my brain. I meet new people with new stories. I recount great stories with the familiars.
Those of us who are here, now, with the bond of this fandom that makes us climb hills, hug barricades, brave rainstorms, walk, drive, and cycle to remote locations: we share this. That moment! Witnessing a beautiful harmony of Man vs. Self, Man vs. Environment, and certainly Man vs. Man, all wrapped up. And not only the moment itself, but the anticipation (sometimes hours long) leading up to that moment, that crescendo. The clatter of bells and claps and yelling and cheers of encouragement to every rider regardless of his team or country. We cheer them all. We cheer for us. We cheer!
I work hard to have these moments of aliveness. I cherish them and float upon them when things are difficult. I wish that everyone could find their spot, their moment, their high, their thing that plugs in their soul like a fresh string of christmas lights. Whatever your geek is: live it!
And now, there's beers at Sharkeez calling my name. Ciao!