Monday, February 25, 2008

Ringside at the ToC

Two brave and handsome warriors having a chat after the battle.

When the warriors of cycling barrel toward the line at a major tour, standing in the crushing throng of fans who squish against the barricades is no different than a second row floor seat at an Aerosmith concert - "I'm certain I had a chair... " Double that when you're hanging out amidst the media. Those people are armed with heavy metal, Blue Tooth and LUGGAGE.

My one LUCKY shot!

My many thanks to Len Basobas of Triple Crankset for letting me shadow him around Solvang, tethered to his media-cred strings.

Exuberant young Cavendish in the bliss of ignorance before, disqualification...

I got to see and smell the stars up close and my one overarching comment is this: Holy Bejeebers these boys are FAST!!!!! Catch-your-breath thrilling really. They'll show you the true meaning of "Zoom Zoom". All you want to do after witnessing something like the Tour of California is jump on the nearest bike and ride to the sun at mach 2 'til you burn up in a blaze of supersonic joy.

Quikstep outside the Solvang start on the TT route out of town.

A blur of High Road.

The cutesy-quaint theme park of a town that is Solvang was thoroughly overrun with bike nuts. Ah my people! Like crack heads on carbon drooling over the slick components and every shred of statistical info. I watched the Time Trial from every possible vantage point in town. Accidentally brushed right by Levi Leipheimer's shoulder as he entered the press room while I was exiting, surprised to find we are the same height - 5' 6". Levi has such a gentle presence, especially considering he has to have a cougar in his soul to ride like he does.

Body by: a bazillion hours on the bike, thank you very much.

Saw Tom Boonen outside the team trailer - yup, heavy sigh. He's really that pretty up close. Global warming from carbon emissions? Nope, it's just Boonie taking off his jacket. Paolo Bettini was on the trainer next to him, all business. Everything about Paolo says PROFESSIONAL. He's going to WORK.

Paolo at work work work.

Paolo working while his teammate checks out girls.

Kept trying to catch a glimpse of Cipo but he was like a vapor; suddenly there and just as quickly gone. I used to think he was a little too over-the-top to take but the comeback at 41 has all my respect. Hammer 'em Mario! Hammer 'em 'til they squeal.

Rock racing in all it's Pop Neo-Consumerist glory.


A new kind of 'blue man'.

Look! Facial hair on a cyclist!

Burns and 'stache. I'm seeing Fashion Trend folks...

A super fast femme Vanderkitten flier and a crazed Triple Crankset camera man.

Two of cycling's angels.

In a serendipitous twist of fate I happened to be staying with a friend in Montecito whose house turned out to be three whole blocks from the official time start of stage 6. I had the fun of riding my bike down to the intersection in my new "LET LEVI RIDE!" T-shirt.

A new cycling fan is born - shoulda seen this tyke jump up and down when the riders came through! Cute!

At the official time start of stage 6 in Montecito (just south of Santa Barbara proper).

How Montecito welcomes the peleton (with mimosas). Of course it's Cristal!

The last time I saw Valencia/Santa Clarita the only significant buildings there were the California Institute of the Arts and Magic Mountain. Now it's one never-ending mega-mall/auto park. On February 23 most of it was blocked off for the sea of fans at ToC! The parking lots were total anarchy. So glad the sun came out (mostly) to give the riders and the sponsors the promised California postcard of a day. And I'm most pleased to report that cycling is not hurting for fans, people. There are MILLIONS of us and our numbers are GROWING.

Media alert.

Spandex rush.

I got to meet Bob Roll after stage 6 in Santa Clarita. What a sweet man! And fit as that proverbial fiddle, I might add. Soon as he was outside the barricades he got MOBBED by fans, yet was gracious to all.

Eli the cat is so happy I'm home that he just brought me a freshly killed baby mouse. Oh joy. I'll spare you the picture of the carnage.

All photos by Kathleen King.


Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Kick ass!

So jealous...

Did Bob mention me? I'm sure he did. Why wouldn't he, right? I mean... me and Bob... we go way back. Way.

Great photos.

"It's just Boonen taking his jacket off..." CLASSIC!

Kk said...

Way. You know it Tim! (big bike dork) You were the main topic of conversation - all 90 seconds of it. Bob's a busy man, places to go, people to interview...

Thanks for the compliments.

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Donna T. said...

You met my friend, Bob! I'm so glad. I'm sure he loved you for those 90 seconds, too. He's fabulous, isn't he? Loved the photo of Rock Racking's compound. Holy Moly. Thanks for the great photos. Sorry I'm so delayed in checking in.

Kk said...

Indeed, Donna, Bob is a gentleman and a scholar. Rock Racing, it's not just a team, it's a religion!