The magical flying cooler
San Fran is high on my list of fun races. I’ve always said I’m a sleeper (In the car — during the race) but here it is too cool to pass up any sight seeing. Not the race mind you but the cool/loud crowds and the cool/fun course. After the race a lot of my friends said I was sleeping. NOT is the answer. Maybe not moving but I was fully awake the whole time. Rare but true. Philly used to be the top of my list but I think this is my new favorite. So I have to shuffle the favorite race list. San Fan followed by Chicago followed by Philly.
Many of my local friends would ask me about the race and when I had to leave for SF. My answer was that I needed to be in SF by Wednesday afternoon. Almost 96 hours before race time. Normally we will fly in riders on Friday because if we flew them in Saturday and they had flight problems we would be screwed. If the riders arrive Friday then I need to be there 24 hours before they do which is Thursday. Normally I say. We had an obligation to do a ride with a tour group on Thursday in beautiful Napa, so riders arrived Wednesday the same day that I did. Lucky there was not a huge requirement/schedule of bike work Wednesday so it was easy to prepare for the Thursday ride.
Friday was another Q and A followed by an autograph signing at Niketown (just like in NY). This time there was a line wrapped around the building with fans waiting to see the team. Lance was not scheduled to do this event (and the public knew this) but I’m guessing a few had hoped that he would just show up. Nonetheless the crowd was fun and they asked a ton of funny questions and got what ever they had signed by the guys. After that was a treat for all riders and staff at Niketown. For this days training the riders did an easy ride across the Golden Gate bridge into the North bay side.
Saturday was also a ride in north bay but this time starting at the house of Thom Weisel who is the owner of the team. That is the same as we have been doing for the history of this race. The day before — ride from Thom’s house and lunch afterwards. I also passed on (the awesome) catered lunch at his house so I could get the bikes back to downtown SF to get started on them ASAP for Sundays race. Washing bikes was gonna be a tougher task but not impossible. Parking is a tough commodity and the only good parking was on the East side of the hotel and washing was at the exact opposite side. So the plan was that I would shuttle the bikes to the wash area while Julien would watch the truck so we would not have to close up shop just to wash bikes. I would wash two and take them to Julien who would prep/tune them. Since washing only takes about 5 minutes per bike it was easy to finish them before he got much more than one or two bikes finished. After washing them I packed my wash stuff and drove the stuff back to the tuck on the other side of the hotel. A bit of a pain but it is the best scenario and the same as we did last year.
Sunday’s race was at a reasonable time this year because there was a women’s race scheduled this year for the first time. Unfortunately for the women it meant a super early race. We raced at 9:00 last year and this year the women were off at 8:00. Ouch, I feel their pain for getting up early (and the pain they will go through climbing Filmore and Taylor Street too). So instead of a 4:30 rise (last year) I got to sleep in to a whopping 6:40 am. I’ll take that in a heart beat.
With the exception of Mikhailov’s broken chain, my race went smooth. Something’s you can check and check and check and never predict a problem like a chain breaking so I have not beat up myself for lack of a good tune/prep work. Although my heart goes out to the Beer team mechanic who had a host of mechanicals in the first crit laps. I would not wish that on anyone including myself so I hope it was not too serious and he can address the problem(s) he had.
This race is fun and driving around the course, sometimes at mach speed, makes it more fun. I hope some of you can remember the cop show “Streets of San Francisco” with Michael Douglass (I believe). Or the Steve McQueen movie “Bullet?” Well, that was us in the caravan car. All team cars and press motos and commissars cars too for that matter. One time coming off Filmore we had to punch it to get back to a group. Lorenzo (director) punched it so hard we were flying. Literally. We hit a cross street where it leveled out before dropping off more and we were airborne. All four wheels. Some reason I turned around and saw the cooler full of water bottles floating in mid air in the back of the car from the bump we hit to get airborne. It was like a magical flying cooler.