Today was our annual sponsor ride with the team. A chance for our sponsors to ride and mingle with the team riders in one place. With our team, sponsors and friends of sponsors, etc., we had a huge ride. I’d guess about 100 plus riders in all. It is not really a race but last year some (not the team) went pretty hard and there was instantly people spread out along the route. Some sponsors rode with the team less than a couple of miles last time. Again it was not the team riders who were going hard, but it was a few (fit) sponsors who ride often and the team riders were just following them.
The ride was about 66 miles out and back. A slight rise/uphill on the way out to the 25 mile mark followed by a rolling down hill to a beautiful lake. Flipping a U-turn and the opposite on the way back. There was a rest stop at the top of the hill at the 25 mile marker on the way out and the same place would be at the 41 mile marker on the way back.
This year we had police escorts to make for a smooth ride. They had quite a few officers out to stop oncoming traffic so we could roll through the intersections. Very cool!
On the way out, some sponsors were getting dropped but not as badly as last year. The pace was a little more sensible for a while. As some sponsors were getting dropped, Johan and I decided to help a few of them. Ones we felt were too important to get dropped. We told a few (one at a time) to hold onto the van and we towed them back up to the main group. We probably helped a dozen or so riders back to the group.
Nearing the rest stop at the 25 mile marker it was getting harder and harder and soon before the rest stop it was down to only our riders and three sponsors. Down to the lake and back to the rest stop in the opposite direction. Most of the sponsors had stopped to wait for the team to return and ride into town (mostly downhill now) with them. Luckily due to the great layout of the ride and the rest stop, we ended up rolling into town with almost the entire group. It was huge and just barely controlled. Much better than last year though. It was controlled insanity this year.
After a bike wash and a few things to do here and there on a few bikes it was time to relax before out sponsor dinner. It was like years past. A cocktail hour and then dinner. Some sponsors, who did not do the ride, added to the group and made the total come to 140 people for dinner. Many people spoke including Mark Gorski, Thom Weisel, Dan Osipow and yes even Lance. Lance was not told he had to talk although he did last year. So his speech was totally impromptu. Nonetheless, he inspired all of us (again). Last year he gave a great speech that made most want to get out and train (riders) do a massage (soigneur) or go build a wheel (mechanics) or something. Inspirational enough to want to do something right away.
The most notable speaker was former VP Dan Quale. He gave a short but good (and sometimes funny) speech. Many riders wanted to meet him after the dinner and chat or take a picture. I’m sorry I forgot my camera. If I believe correctly former Presidents and Vice presidents have sort of life time security. So, I wonder which waiter/waitress was secret service? As I discussed this with a few people, one person said that she thought it was strange a waiter had an ear piece (microphone?). Was that secret service? We’ll never know?