On Friday Craig and I did the amateur version of the Solvang TT for the 2nd year in a row. And for the 2nd year in a row it was an incredible experience. I will do that race every year that they offer it as long as I can still ride a two wheeler! There's nothing else like it! This year due to the Lance factor and the favorable weather, the crowds were 10 times the size and the overall vibe and energy was off the charts. I think I saw every single person I know from the cycling community somewhere out on the course. Whether it was David Jurist holding up a big sign that said "Go Chickens!" on the first climb..(that made me laugh)... Greg Leach and company whoopin' it up in front of his house in Los Olivos...Jason Hannon and the Platinum crowd just a few houses down... Randall Tinney doin' his Red Devil impersonation on Ballard...Mark Fennell taking pictures in two places at once...Dave Lettieri and company yellin' at me from the follow car tellin' me my "ass looked big in those shorts" and laughin' when I almost went wide on a corner going 30+ miles and hour in the aero bars...I was soakin' it all in, and lovin' every minute of it!
Once you get over the embarrassment of being a poser ( I got over that a long time ago) the experience of riding on the same course, on the same day, literally just minutes before the best riders in the world is unbelievable! Imagine getting to play flag football with your buddies on the field during Superbowl halftime...that's the closest thing I can think of. As a cycling fan it gives you such a unique perspective on what it would be like to be one of the top riders in the world. Except that they do it every weekend...and we get to do it maybe once a year.
Craig and I both got up there early to get good parking spots and set up our trainers for the warm-up. The competition was much stiffer this year with the addition of two local hammers Gary Douville, and Brian"The Cookie Monster" Cook. Last year when I did this race I felt like I rode as well as I could have on that day. This year I felt like I was struggling the whole time and could never get on top of the gear and yet I rode almost the exact same time. Last year I rode a 36:27 and this year a 36:29. Two seconds difference... You have to marvel at the consistency of my mediocrity. Blinger on the other hand was almost two minutes faster than last year. He's getting older and wiser and I'm just getting older. We both got our doors blown off by Gary and Cookie. Gary won with a 33:47 and Cookie got 2nd with a 34:47. Floyd Landis's buddy and owner of the OUCH Cycling Team Dr. Brent Kay was 3rd and beat me by 15 seconds.....ouch! It's kind of surreal doing the race in the morning and then a few minutes later your standing in one of the VIP tents watching the pros on TV thinking "I was just right there!" and then you see them fly by you in real life. Too cool!
I'm always amazed when I see the photos that guys like Fennell and John Goodman, and Carson get. Fennell somehow got pictures of every local rider starting and finishing, as well as pictures of all the top pros. I got one picture of some blurry guy that I think was Levi but I'm not sure. By the time you realize they're coming they're already past... plus there are 100 other people all trying to take one step closer to the action getting in the way. Check out Fennells' blog to get his take on the days activities.
There were a couple funny things that happened that I thought you'd enjoy reading. Dave, Gabe, John V, Kim McD, and Barney were all gonna drive behind me in the Big Ol' Chicken Ranch truck. The amateurs aren't supposed to get follow vehicles but Dave knows everyone and was able to swing it last year. So they roll up to the course officials and one of the guys says " There's no way in hell you're taking that big rig out the course!" Dave says' " We already talked to Chuck and he said it was OK"
The guy says "Who talked to Chuck?" and Dave says " Barney did." to which the guy replies " Well I'm Chuck, and all Barney said was Hi, and there's no way in hell you're taking that big rig out on the course!" So being the quick thinkin' guys that they are, Gabe runs half a mile and gets his BMW wagon. They all pile in and drive back to the course officials. This time Chuck just laughs and waves 'em through! It's always good to hang out with Dave at pro races.
After my race John VanManakkes comes up me and says "Hey you got any jumper cables?" It seems the Rock Racing Team car, a Pimped out black Escalade had a dead battery. So we trek over to my truck grab some cables and then go hang out with the Rock Racing guys like Tyler Hamilton and Fast Freddy while they get the Escalade going again. While we're there some lady asks Tyler if she can take a picture of him......with her dogs. Being a dog lover he obliges and she proceeds to arrange her 5 dogs in the perfect position and then gets Tyler to crouch down and pose... with her dogs. She wasn't even in the picture. Just Tyler with her dogs. I thought it was funny.
The last funny story was hearing a rumor that before the race Lance Armstrong had been spotted riding the course with Jerry Seinfeld and some other guy. Upon further investigation we discovered that it was a case of mistaken identity. Lance did pre-ride the course in the morning. But not with Jerry Seinfeld and "some other guy". It was our own Dave Lettieri and Levi Leipheimer. They thought Dave was Jerry Seinfeld! And poor Levi, when he rides with Lance and Dave he gets relegated to "some other guy" status.
What great day! I look forward to doing it again next year if the opportunity arises. And if not.....well, I've already got memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks to all of you who were out there cheering us on. It really does give you an extra boost and help you go faster......except for David Jurist's "Go Chickens" sign. When I laughed it caused me to lose my breath and I never recovered. I think it cost me at least 3 minutes.....maybe more.
Esquire, thanks for the photos!
State Trails Day 2017 - San Ysidro Trail! -
1 month ago