19 August 2012

Sunday in Durango

The day before the race began
The day as a fan in Durango started in the wee hours of the morning at the citizen's Pro Challenge Experience ride. Already they are talking about 'the History of the USA Pro Challenge' which sort of cracks me up since this is only the second year of the race and the first year they have offered what is called a cyclosportif in Europe; the chance for regular Joe's to ride part of a stage of the tour. How much history has been made so far? What is clear is that we are ready to make more of it.

Riders trickled in to collect their bibs and take their place under the start line.
Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter was there to join in the ride.
Bill Ritter pinning on the bib number of a friend
Jeremy from Training Peaks was there
So was the Friel family - that is Dirk (L), Mom, and Joe (R), along with Mavic Pete, a mechanic for Mavic who is a common figure at these races.
These merchandise trailers are everywhere this year.
Riders took their place at the start line
Ron Kiefel (from team Seven-Eleven and Wheat Ridge Cyclery in Colorado) joined in the race.
Shawn Hunter (CEO of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge) and Ron had a chat shortly before the depart.
George Hincapie sounded the gun to officially start the race
And the race/ride was off ... riders poured across the start line calling out to George as they passed, "Thanks George!" "Thanks George!" "I love you George!" It was a fun way to kick-off this tour.

Meanwhile, the town was resting before it's big day began

Interviews were being conducted
George Hincapie
Stages were being constructed
And teams were out spinning their legs
I went for a great bike ride this morning, I rode north of Durango along the beautiful Hwy 250. Some of the participants from the citizen's ride were heading back into town, while packs of team riders were riding back and forth along the highway.
I had always wanted to get to a Tour early enough (or on a rest day, but this 1-week tour has no rest days) to be able to be out on my bike while the teams were on their rides - this was finally my day! It was thrilling, and I was so happy to be out riding my bike.
I saw Liquigas-Cannondale, Exergy, Russ-Velo, SpiderTech, and BMC. I looked up the road and saw two fast approaching red jerseys. Before I knew it Tejay and Taylor Phinney came screaming past me racing each other, laughing and dodging each other like fighter pilots in play. No one else was around, I cheered them as they sped by. Two more BMC riders followed in pursuit, after a pause Cadel and George rolled by in the final pack of four chatting calmly. After what I saw, I am putting my money on Tejay and Taylor for a stage win.
It was a beautiful bike ride today in Durango.
The Cycling Village Festival was going on up at the campus of Fort Lewis College, I stopped by in the afternoon.
The USA Pro Cycling Jerseys are for sale at the merchandise trailers, each stage has a different Stage-Jersey specific to the town. They are popular, and not sold-online, so get their early to buy yours. 
The Pearl Izumi booth is interesting, they create the daily classification jerseys for the overall, sprint, climber, best young rider, and most aggressive rider. Clark showed me the skinsuits (that size small sure is small) and the podium jerseys with the zippers on the back. Each day they add they team logo, they have a small portable press that they take to each stage finish area so they can be ready for the day's winners.
The clan in the Boyer Coffee booth were tons of fun. I enjoyed a nice iced coffee, free, and it came with laughs.
Would you believe this is the Executive Director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce? Oh, and that is George he is with. Everyone has caught cycling fever.
The tour begins tomorrow. I have a few words to say about tomorrow's stage after making the drive this evening from Durango to Telluride.
  • Break away
  • Spectacular scenery
  • New pavement
Yes, they recently repaved the road from Lizard head Pass into Telluride and it is going to be a screaming fast decent. I can't wait. I am here in Telluride with some old and new friends and enjoyed a relaxed evening of stories and delicious food. We also shared a special bottle of wine I brought back from France from Chateau Navaille near Pau, one of the friend's family name (although he claims his homeland as Gaul). 
Ok, see you at the race....