22 August 2011

Prologue - Pedaling at Altitude

Dancing on the Pedals in Colorado Springs - USA Pro Cycling Challenge Prologue
Stories from a fan chasing the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and blogging about the experience. Playing tourist in my own state of Colorado.
Stage facts:
Prologue: 5.18 miles from Garden of the Gods to downtown Colorado Springs
How I enjoyed the day:

I packed up the car with both my road bike and my around town bike and headed south out of town. I parked near Garden of the Gods, visited the team area near the visitor center, went to the start, and then raced on my bike downtown to watch the awards on the podium. 

My day as a fan:
Being a fan is so much fun! I take vacation time to chase races. Two days ago I was wondering why I do this - chase Tours, today I received my answer. Because it is so fun.

If fun is talking to Jens Voigt about fishing, and having Cadel Evans step out of the car and walk straight toward me, and having Frank Schleck smile and then hand me his water bottle just before he walked up to the start ramp, and telling a group of young kids just how cool Laurens ten Dam really is, and seeing DZ strut his stuff in his new red white and blue skinsuit, and getting to ride my bike in between all the fun is considered fun, well then I had fun today.
Story from the day:
I am happy to report I have completed my first official Pedal Dancer interview. My spontaneous interview involved one Jens Voigt, yes THE Jens Voigt. I felt the urge to ask Jensie the question we all wanted to know, "how many fish did you catch Jens?" I know, good stuff huh?

Jens opened up. He said, "I caught none, Frank caught all the fish." "It was beautiful at 10-mile canyon, as if you were the only person on earth, and nobody else was around, really beautiful," he said. On and on he went, I could tell he wanted to talk more about fishing, but there was this bike race going on around us.
Fans I met:
I ran into a friend of mine Mike Elmer, who is a big Tour de France fan and a previous cycling guide in Italy, who parked right behind me near the visitor center, so that was tons of fun being able to ride into the race area with him. I also saw a Westside teammate of mine, Sherman, who rode his bike down from Denver. I spoke to a number of locals, spoke to a man who told me all about riding the Ronde Van Vlaanderen cyclosportif in Belgium. Everyone was in a good mood. 
The fans went crazy for Frank, Andy, Cadel, George, Ted King, Basso, Levi, Tommy D, and just about anyone else the Announcer announced at the start line. Were the crowds huge, no they were not, not in comparison to Europe, or even California, but those fans who were there were having a blast. It was similar to the early years of the Tour of California. This is a first year event, and I was able to move around very easily, which was a joy as a fan. I will look back fondly on the first year of this Tour.
Pictures from the day:

Welcome to the first day of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge
This was the backdrop for the day - blue skies, white clouds, rock outcroppings
and jelly beans
and some nice bikes
Familiar faces (Bob Roll)
Riders warming up and riding around the area.
Just another day at work
Jeremy Powers
When Ivan Basso asks for an adjustment to his bike, mechanics hop to it
Ted King was thrilling the crowd (he had a big fan club at the start line!)
This was a cool vest (the temperature could be controlled)
Laurens ten Dam
Philip Deignan
Cadel was a little close.... super nice guy, he signed lots of autographs. And for the first time, in all the many races I have attended - I got one too. My first autograph and it was by Cadel Evans, cool. Then I got one by Jens, and Laurens ten Dam, and Jeremy Powers. I couldn't stop...
Then the LeOpard Trek boys showed up on the scene
Meanwhile the Liquigas mechanics were still working on Ivan's bike
TV moto!
Timmy Duggan
Peter Velits
Robert Gesink
Ted King
Ben King
George Hincapie
Danny Pate
Ivan Basso
Tejay Van Garderen
Tejay and Frank Schleck
Andy and Tejay
Frank Schleck (with the water bottle he generously tossed directly to me!!)
Andy Schleck waits
Dave Zabriskie and Andy greet each other with a handshake and a smile
As for Cadel, well I mostly just watched him because I ran out of disk space on my camera!!! I used my phone (this was the first sporting event I saw someone using an ipad to take pictures).
Final Podium
And the Tour continues tomorrow with Stage 1 - Salida to Mount Crested Butte