I have to admit I was making my usual trek to the race for an enjoyable Saturday, but I also had a goal just to catch a glimpse of Lance Armstrong. I have read quite a bit about him, (a couple of his biographies, and a couple of controversial "tell all" books) and I honestly have to say I watched the Tour de France initially just to watch the brash Texan take to the hills and roads of France to ruffle the feathers of the best cyclists in the world. But he is also an intriguing character, he approaches his career with a method and a plan. He expects the best from himself, his equipment, and those around him and he has tons of controversy and speculation surrounding him. I just wanted to see what the hype was about and the scene that he creates around himself. Needless to say the Astana bus was a hub of activity and there were tons of other fans of cycling all with the same goal that I have, grab a photo of Lance or a maybe an autograph (if you get lucky). It was a bit packed and a little crazy, I am not a big crowd person anyway so I did they whole hang out and wait for Lance thing for under 5 minutes (patience isn't my strongest asset as well) So my wife, my son and I just decided to check out the rest of the scene and the countless works of carbon fiber art.
The bikes were absolutely beautiful, from the team color paint schemes, to the best of the best components it was pretty fantastic eye candy. It is very similar to seeing all the race bikes when you walk through the pits at a supercross. Just uber cool race technology primed and ready for battle on the pending roads. It was interesting to see the new Shimano Durace components on the race bikes. Who knew that someday a bicycle would have electronic shifting technology, I can't say that it was something that I imagined the bicycles of the future would have. From Cannondale, to Specialized, Trek, to BMC, BH (spanish manufacture was a stage winner), Felt.... and the list goes on, all the manufactures were out in full force supporting the race efforts of the competing teams.
Cycling has infiltrated motocross and motorcycle racing as a form of training and several of the top trainers (Aldon Baker) have a cycling background. Motorcycles meet bicycles... again, they collided again in Santa Clarita at the pre race activities of the Tour of California. In checking out the Quick Step team issued Specialized bikes, I saw and had a brief chat with none other than MotoGP's Nicky Hayden and his brother Tommy. The newest member of Ducati was on hand at the invite of Specialized Bicycles and he was checking out his first cycling event. From the brief conversation he seemed really cool and down to earth. We continued walking through the "pits" I notice former YoT & Pro Circuit team manager Dave "Ozzy" Osterman. He was appropriately on his Mt. bike checking out the scene as well. I introduced myself and told him that I enjoyed his recent podcast with Steve Matthes. It is really worth a listen if you want the inside scoop from one of motocross's best team managers. In the interview he briefly touches the whole Buell 450 program, he said a lot without saying much due to what sounded like a pretty serious ND agreement that Buell had him sign.
All in all it was a great day and really fun to mix it up and see how another prestigious sport runs. If you get a chance the Tour of Georgia usually gets a good pro team turnout and has been fun to watch in the past. But if you haven't ridden a road bike, see if a local shop will let you demo one, it is a really fun way to get exercise. You can cover quite a bit of road and you see so much on a bike that you miss when you are driving in your car. Oh I did see the Lance briefly and got a really terrible photo, it was cool and he sure did create a buzz at the event, but at the end of the day he is just a guy that has a knack for riding a bicycle. (ok maybe more than a knack... he is a 7x time Tour de France winner) See you on the road.