Monday, May 24, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #18 TOUR OF CALIFORNIA EDITION

As you couldn’t have missed last week – at least if you read Cyclingnews and Velonews every day like I do – the Tour of California was rocking and rampaging and doing whatever else the promoters say it was doing all last week in our fair state. Me, I’ve been following the Giro d’Italia bigtime – greatest Giro in years and years – and consequently have avoided paying much attention to the Tour of California (with the exception of the Lance-crashes-the-day-after-Floyd-accuses-him-of-doping part, which was and is still grand theater), but then the Tour of California set up shop on Saturday, a couple of miles from my house. I guess when a Pro Tour event – the individual time trial of a Pro Tour event, no less – takes place a couple of miles from a fellow’s house, and the sun’s out, and there’s not much else to do besides maybe stay home and watch oil leaking into the fucking Gulf of Mexico on TV – well, a fellow has no alternative but to mount his trusty cyclocross bike and take up a viewing position on Olive Street in downtown L.A. In case you’re interested in my attire for this occasion: 420 bib shorts and socks and a very hip red Rouge Roubaix 2007 T-shirt, which I am only now able to wear regularly because it used to be, back in the day, that whenever I wore that T-shirt, my buddy Chief would be wearing the same T-shirt, and the Total Dork Factor was too much to bear. Nevertheless, on Saturday, the word ‘Roubaix’ on my shirt gave me a certain sense of cred? Maybe?

Anyway, I was situated in a fine spot for viewing the races – steep hill, about halfway through the lap (they did two laps). This is Jeremy Hunt, two-time British National Road Race Champion, one of the first riders on the course. He started six minutes before Fabian Cancellera, and I swear to God, Spartacus had almost caught Mr. Hunt by this point in the first lap! Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of Cancellara because I was too busy yelling when the big man rolled by – uphill in the big ring, twenty miles per hour minimum.

Here comes Dutch cyclocross superstar Lars Boom. The crowd went crazy for this guy, no doubt because of his name. I mean, can you possibly have a cooler name than that? It’s so cool that I’m thinking about changing my name to Lars Boom Magnuson. You have to admit: that has a definitely sweet ring to it.

Cyclist segregation was strictly enforced in the crowd. Here we see the crowd across the street from me, on the downhill: all single-speed bike-messenger types, a number of whom looked more Swedish-slash-Midwestern than me and somehow spoke in thick Hispanic accents. The single-speeders didn’t care about the uphill so much; they wanted to see the Pro Tour riders bomb the living shit out of the downhill, which is exactly what the Tour riders did. Awesome, no! So these single-speeders were drinking lots of beer and enjoying 420 products and were excellently rowdy and unruly enough so that eventually, toward the end of the time trial, several beat cops took up a position on the corner nearby, making sure these horrible citizens stayed under control. A famous internet cycling blogger, whose name I won’t mention but whose new book I blurbed, spends about three-quarters of his blog bitching about single-speeders and about how they’re ruining cycling, et cetera. You know what? That’s bullshit. The single-speeders love cycling; they’re having a good time on their bikes; who really cares if they wear jeans while they ride? I guess they could wear helmets, but then again, as we see in the next picture (taken before the time trail began), the famous monster-sprinter Mark Cavendish doesn’t seem to wear a helmet when he’s out for a morning spinner with his teammate.

That’s Mr. Cavendish on the right, of course.

I saw this affixed to a single-speeder's messenger bag. That’s a command sentence, with an implied subject (you). I'm sure the single-speeder was aware of this.

Oh well. Much like my buddy The Champ predicted in a text message before I rolled down to the racecourse, I viewed the race on the Livestrong-loving, recreational-rider side of the street. Nobody drank beer or got into trouble on my side of the hill. When Jens Voight and George Hincapie and Levi and all the rest pounded past, we all did the right thing: we cheered and took pictures and said to each other, “Isn’t this a thrill?” A couple of days later, I feel ashamed of myself a little bit, joining the Livestrong throng to cheer on my heroes from the Tour de France. I don’t feel unique. I feel like everybody else.

But you know what? That’s Jens Voight. What a thrill it was to see him racing!

That is all.


  1. dude, i got a new blackberry and misplaced your email address. hit me at please

  2. mike,
    why dont you blog no more? sure miss your writing.

  3. New post on cycle 'drafting' and bearing one another's burdens (inspired by your 'Heft' book)...


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