Vince Gee

Kings at home.

Tour of CA — Stage 2
Santa Rosa to Sacramento

It was petty weird to be working a stage race in my home town. Very cool
when the race announcement came out last year and gave the cites
involved in the Tour of California.

I left Santa Rosa fairly early as I though the hotel was going to be a
cluster again (crowded like in SF). All teams in the same hotel got me
worried. But I got there and my worries were for not. I live about 4 or
5 miles from this hotel but have never actually seen it up close. This
hotel was a good hotel in many respects. They had room keys ready when
we arrived. They had parking spaces allotted for each team. The hotel
was only two floors and all outside facing doors, so it was easy to put
the luggage in the rooms. No piling all the luggage into a small
elevator. By the time I pulled into the hotel and the time we had all
the luggage in the rooms it was well before 12:00. So, I got in touch
with a few friends and drove to downtown to the race finish area and had
lunch with them. A rare treat to actually have time to go AWAY from the
hotel to have lunch. Sometimes it is a pizza delivery guy driving to the
“big blue and black Discovery truck in the parking lot” description to
the pizza place. They inevitably ask where I am and tell them what hotel
I am at. Then they ask what room and I tell them I am not in the room.
But they can come to the Big blue and black Discovery truck in the
parking lot I tell them. They sound confused and I tell them it is easy.
They do it hesitantly and eventually find me no problem.

Julien is a huge NBA basketball fan. He loves the Lakers and he and I
have fun jabs at each others team with me cheering for the Sacramento
Kings. I have always wished to take him to a live NBA game. He has seen
only one live. Two years ago he saw his Lakers take on the Golden State
Warriors. I really wanted to see if we could get him to a Lakers game at
the end of the race since we were finishing the race in Long Beach. But
the Lakers would be on the road at the time we would be in Southern
California. But just so happened the Kings were playing a home game the
same day we were to finish the Santa Rosa to Sacramento stage. Kozo
Shimano (president of Shimano USA and our component sponsor) was super
cool and got two tickets for Julien and me. My other friend at Shimano
is Andy Stone and he actually lives in Sacramento too AND had season
tickets. So he and his wife Glynis planed on picking Julien and I up at
the team hotel and take us to the game.

Julien, Chris and I powered through all the bikes in record time. So,
Julien and I had plenty of time to get ready for the game. Andy and
Glynis also had planed on taking us to the Center Court restaurant near
the Kings stadium. A restaurant owned by former Kings player Chris
Webber. This place had heaps of memorabilia. Julien and I walked around
the restaurant and checked out all the cool stuff. Stuff Julien would
never ever see in Belgium.

What a treat for Julien to see a good NBA game. And lucky for me the
Kings beat the Boston Celtics, so I would be free of any jabs towards
the Kings playing ability. I felt like a King at home watching a Kings
AT home game.

On a side note I knew Julien was scheduled for this race long ago. So I
brought my Kings jersey with me to give him grief. This past weekend was
also the NBA All Star weekend. And with Kozo being not only a Lakers fan
but well connected to the Lakers, he brought Julien a rare present. A
REAL Kobe Bryant # 24 All star jersey with small Lakers logo. Each
participating team/player getting a small logo on the West or east color
jersey. This jersey was bad ass to say the least. In my cycling world
signed jerseys fly in front of my eyes all the time. But to see a real
All star Kobe jersey was too cool.