I’ll be back (with more stories later)
Here I am in Toulouse, France. I’m here working with our company (Tailwind Sports) at the Tour DE France. I am not here as a team mechanic. We already have 4 mechanics working with the team here at the tour. Although I am performing some mechanic duties here. My job on this trip is to take care of our Champions club members. The Champions club is the major donor group in support of the Junior Development Program for USA Cycling. It was founded by Thomas Weisel. The champions club will go on area rides and watch the tour afterwards on TV. Some rides will take place on parts of some stages and we will also see some parts of the tour live standing on the side of the road as the “Show” goes by.
Today’s stage of the Tour DE France finishes about 30 kilometers from the hotel we will stay at. I will not be able to see the race live as we have many things to go over before our Champion club members arrive. Being a staff member of US Postal, there are always inquires when people see us and (especially) our team vehicles. Even if I am not working directly with the team, the cars draw attention and questions. Lance questions obviously. They wonder if he is here, what he is doing, if they can see him, Get pictures/autographs, etc.
Well, there was definitely a crowd around our hotel but for another reason. Another celebrity is here. Arnold Swartznager is staying at our hotel here in Toulouse. He is primarily here to attend a premiere party for his new Terminator movie (T3 – Rise of the Machines). The front of our hotel is on a really narrow street. The road is barely one car wide. The crowd was so deep around our hotel, cars were gridlocked for blocks. Our car was parked in the underground garage and it funneled out just in front of the hotel, so getting out of there was time consuming to say the least. I was told Arnold was at the start of today’s stage, hanging out in our team bus with the riders. Then Arnold even got to be the yellow jersey presenter when Lance had his podium appearance after today’s finish. Each time he was preparing to leave the hotel the crowds went from fairly big to almost obnoxiously big, and creating the gridlock I mentioned.
This evening we (the staff for the Champions club event) needed to go to the team hotel to do some errands and get a few logistical issues finalized. That was nice because I got to visit a little bit with our team. The first guys I saw were obviously the mechanics since they were just finishing up as I rolled up in the parking lot. Even though we have been using the new Shimano 10 speed since just after the Philly races, it was a first for me to see since I’m almost exclusively in the US. I sometimes feel a bit behind in the information super highway due to the geographical distance between the European crew and myself when I’m in the US.
It is almost midnight and we just finished dinner and the first of many staff meetings. I’m psyched to have been able to stay awake so long. I always feel the first day is the crucial day in overcoming jet lag. Take an afternoon nap on the first day usually spells trouble in terms of getting on the new time schedule.
So, to quote the celebrity who is staying at our hotel (with a hint of an Austrian accent)……………I’ll be back (with more stories later).