Monday, September 22, 2008

Catching up and the ING Direct DC Crit

Still working on the TOM stuff including the write ups I didn't have time to do that week and going through hundreds of pics trying to label and edit them the best I can. I worked a lot of hours last week coming back from the week off so this weekend was going to be a weekend of catching up. And it was, for the most part.

This past weekend included having today off which would've been sweet had I not twisted my ankle while working out yesterday morning. And I'm not even sure I twisted it as the pain is pretty low in the area. It is getting a little better though. It'd probably be doing a lot better if I had not gone for a ride yesterday but I couldn't pass up having the time and perfect weather to do so. I had a 3 hour ride planned but that cut in half with the ankle finally having enough. Still felt great to be out there. Today it hurt more to drive to the path but felt almost good riding. Again, probably not the best idea but time outside is limited these days and I hope to take advantage when I can. :-)

I got the siding fixed today. I noticed it before leaving for TOM but needing to be here to talk to them pushed the repair to today. Took him all but 10 minutes and no charge so that was sweet. Got some much needed cleaning done today too. Thankfully nobody could see me hopping around while vacuuming.

The past week has been a lot of fun. Enjoyable emails with some of the riders and fans I met at TOM. Sharing some great pics. Looking forward to finishing my pics this week. I have reloaded the TT pics from stage 3 onto my flickr account with labels and such. I also found a few pics that me and the gang were in at DailyPeloton.

Yesterday was fun watching the ING Direct DC Crit that C and company were in. (Start list 1 and list 2) Will started the race but had to pull out as the knee is still on the mend. C animated things for awhile. Took a flyer off the front for several laps and had Bahati with him so they weren't going to get too far. Danny Pate and Mike Friedman were also seen flying up front. In the end the race was won by Hilton Clarke. Full results can be found HERE.
Check out our chat during the race on Podium Cafe.
Also check out pics from some of the gang that was there: JFS_PGH and Sui Juris
I also found some more pics - Luke Pingel's Pics

In other random chatter, Blake Caldwell is back home and recovering from his crash during the TT at TOM. He took a horrible spill but sounds to be doing much better. Check out his Blog and see his update on the Garmin site. Also, Jeremy Powers has started off his Cross season with a bang! Way to go Jeremy! Check out a chat with him and Tim Johnson too. They didn't do too badly on Sunday either. Sweet start for sure. Being pretty new to Cross this year, I am already looking forward to getting to a race or two this season. My PT rides and it by far has to be his favorite time of year. So with him selling me on it all year already and then to know Jeremy rides and so does Alex, it's time to check it out. Doesn't hurt that everyone I talk to about it, smiles from ear to ear and says it really is the best time of year. We shall see! :-)

Reads: I'm Stupid for the Capitol Crit (part 1). Interview with Bobby Lea.
NewYorkTimes_M.Barry: Cycling in America Is One Big Exchange Program

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2008 TOM - Stage 6

I'm starting to think sleep is just not going to happen this week. I guess that's what Monday is for. :-) Tonight we were talking and remember different things this week and it has me almost floored with how quickly the days all melded together. Thank goodness I have pics to trigger reminders on what day was what. Several jokes with the Tour and I am not convinced there is no way the riders have any idea after like day 5 or so. I think I was good until Thursday and tonight, it's all one big mush of memories. Hopefully I can pull better write ups for the earlier days when I get back.

Another enjoyable stage today. Started down in Hermann and for me a search for some coffee as last night was a wee bit of a late one trying to get caught up on a few things. (Tonight's not looking much better.) We had some rain as we left the hotel. As we pulled out onto the highway the Jelly Belly crew was there. As we all turned for the off ramp I found myself in with their cars. Janann and I thought T might be going a little crazy seeing them. I think it would've been a treat to have seen her in the middle of the cars. Hopefully no crashes would've been had but I have to think it would've been cute.

Jelly Belly in front of me, the truck behind, and the camper behind that. Light drizzle and what felt like back country roads. Fun morning trip to the start. :-)

At the start the first priority for me was coffee. Usually I grind and brew mine (bring coffee pot and all when on a driving trip) but choosing 30 minutes more sleep this morning meant no making coffee. Once that was taken care of we walked around in downtown Hermann. Went and chatted with Jelly Belly and dropped off some cookies and some good coffee beans with Brad. (Serious apologies guys as the cookies this race were not the good ones from back by me.)

Walking around we ran into Luis again. Wished him happy birthday (which was yesterday) and teased him about Janann being married. Good laughs and all good fun. When he got the email he even noted - MARRIED on it. So funny. After that we ran into Kurt again. I've been seeing him at races the past couple months. Then at Downers we joked around with him. Now here at TOM it's becoming a fun part of the day to stop and catch up. Some smiles when he walked up and says he has a favor to ask. Luckily it was simple and not a problem at all.

The past couple days I've been running into Neil from Road as well. Being a fan of the DZ interviews one has to check in to see what the new laugh will be. Still waiting for the one he thought he might get I think on Tuesday or Wednesday but the chamois cream one got some laughs when we watched yesterday for sure. Make sure to check it out.

Once the riders got going we headed out with plans to watch the 3rd KOM. Our plans got yanked though when the road got closed well over a 1/2 hour before the race came through. No other day gave us any issues but the gang said last year this area had the same issues. So we watched them turn onto the road from that point and then opted to skip the KOM since we were now behind them instead of 40 minutes in front. Just as I took a couple pics of the guys coming around John called to see what was happening. He was headed to pick up Leah. Tonight looking at pics I got one of at that stop which was pretty cool.

The entire drive today kept us awake. It was loaded with rolling hills. In a lot of spots it was the kind with the roller coaster feel where you push to get to the top and unable to see anything until you hit the top and then you roll down and head back upwards. Good stuff. Although on the way to the start in the Jelly Belly cars, more than once I wondered how the camper managed that with out making the guys sick. They all seemed good when we saw them so maybe it's not as bad as I think it would be.

We got really sweet parking at the finish. We were parked right off the course and only a couple blocks from the line. We headed to the jumbo trons to get some updates. The GPS locks on a signal and my blackberry was pretty sweet in keeping us updated from the CN live report but cell service was touch and go through all those hills. The jumbo trons were great to sit back and watch the race until the riders arrived. We got a spot on the fence about 50-100 meters from the line too which was nice. While waiting I located John and called him. Told him to wave. Little Uma was so cute and grandpa certainly was enjoying the time with her.

The riders had a straight shot at the finish today. No circuits through town. The pack came flying by us and Cav won the sprint. Usually we wait and watch the riders all come in and the finishers ride around but we headed to the podium area as there were tons of people with this being a weekend (and the rain holding off). Once everyone started filling in that area, the sun peeked out and winds slowed and we all got baked. It has been humid all week. Today didn't feel nearly as bad as yesterday but it was still sticky.

The podiums were great. Rollin is having some good fun with this KOM. Cav got back the sprint jersey after having lost it on the course with sprint points. Eisel got the most aggressive. And C looked great in yellow! It was pretty fun having the Vandevelde family down here today. The cheers and excitement were clearly stepped up. Being a weekend also jumped up the crowds. Everyone seems to be loving the riders and C is getting great warm welcomes from all watching.

After that we hoped for some wind to cool us off a bit. Lyne came walking by and pushed me! I couldn't believe her nerve. LOL!!! We ran into Kurt so he and I headed to my car so he could get his pics. I walked back then and saw Brad after his press interviews. Got to give him a hug and congrats on his 3rd place. Then I headed to find the gang. We located a smoothie stand and we were ready for something. I'm not sure Janann and I ate anything more than a small bar all day and in the heat the cold drink was great. We decided to head to the cars. On the way we saw C doing some press interviews too so we stopped and listened. He was asked about next year and he said he wants to come back and he loves the race. He would come back as long as his schedule would allow it. He then says - and his schedule WILL allow it. Smiles and laughs all around. As he headed out I gave him a hug too and congratulated him on a great day.

With Garmin having gotten bigger and C having the best year in cycling ever, getting to say hi to C is pretty rare. He stopped over earlier in the week on his way back from sign in and Janann and T got to get his autograph at sign in one day. I was enjoying seeing the kids go nuts on the teams and got some fun pics. T and Janann got the close ups of the guys coming by. Tag teaming the fun has been great for us all week.

After we checked in tonight we were all starving so he headed for dinner. As we're eating I noticed Neil walk in with his girlfriend. I comment to Janann that it was him and T tries to figure out what we're talking about and we lie and say some guy looked like Neil that walked in. (Good laughs and if you know T, you know we did this for her health and safety... maybe Neil's too. ha ha!!! We love you sweetie!) After dinner we were up in the lobby and Neil and Joy came up so we all said hello's and talked for a quick bit. I headed outside for a bit and the gang headed up to the rooms.

Neil and Joy came outside and we chatted for a bit. Talking to them about this past week reminded me of some of the hillbilly stories we have had this week. I'm hoping Alan and Janann see him tomorrow to fill in some of it but the jist was still funny. I kid you not on this one... Thursday was like the day from a Jeff Foxworthy comedy. The best over the top part for me was walking past this group next to their car trying to figure out changing the tire. The women is on the phone saying they have a flat and they need the person to bring them a spare. She then proceeds to tell them that the spare is in the front yard! Janann and I just look at each other. We get about a block down and we bust up laughing. After the many other things that happened Thursday, that just sent us into pure laughter.

Once I got back to the room I uploaded some of my pics. I've decided I will probably work on some edits on the computer and then will reload the stages on flickr again and delete the other files from this week. On stages like the TT, I think I have most of the riders labeled on my computer but the upload took so long that I didn't wait to add it. Oh well. I also worked on loading up T's pics for her onto her web spot.

All good stuff but now I am totally due for some sleep. Tomorrow looks like we could have no rain during the race and high humidity or up to 6 inches of rain possible. Gosh help us! VIP tent tomorrow is looking pretty darn sweet. The course is a 14 mile city course and I think they make the loop 5 times. It doesn't start until like 2 pm so sleeping in and chilling tomorrow morning is going to feel pretty good.

Some of my stage 6 pics are up.

CN: Live Report - Stage 6
CN: Cavendish back to winning ways in Missouri
VN: TOM: Cav tops again, Vande Velde holds lead
Garmin: TOM Stg 6: Christian Vande Velde One Stage Closer!
JellyBelly: TOM - Stage 6

Friday, September 12, 2008

2008 TOM - Stage 5

Well somehow we have already flew through the week and it is now Friday night. I remember thinking on Tuesday night I was so tired and I could not believe it was ONLY Tuesday. Tonight, I sit here, thinking, oh my... it's Friday night already?!?

So far this week has been pretty much a blast. Take out some issues with the ex and it might just be one of the best week's I've had in a really, really long time. It's been enjoyable seeing the riders and I have to say some of the guys truly have moved up into my favorites. Others have come down a few steps and for no other reason than watching things through the week. Of course C is still my favorite though and I love him in yellow!

C put on the jersey and brushed the shoulders. It got the crowd laughing.

The Jelly Belly guys have put up with hello's and small talk all week and I hope they can kick some butt. Their efforts today were huge but it didn't quite work. Nick and Bryce were pretty cute "racing" to the line. I'm hoping Sunday might be a great stage to see Brad up on the podium. I've been watching them all week and it's a shame more riders don't do what these guys are doing. They spend time signing autographs, almost always smiling before the starts, and truly impressing the people that meet them. I keep saying it but really guys - you and the team are making a lot of people's days enjoyable with the sweet time you spend being so great. (Not biased at all here. They're great guys and it's a great team.) Go say hello!

Bryce and new guy Kiel signed authographs on Thursday.

There's been a lot that's gone on this week and I think I might have time to type more but for now this little bit will have to do. So tired tonight and lot's to do tomorrow. We are heading to the start and then off for the 3rd KOM and then to the finish. The course crosses over the paths we need to use to get to the finish so moving around is tricky. Hopefully the rain will hold up while the guys race. Prayers out to the guys if it doesn't as it will make for slick roads and I for one hate crashes.
More later!

Some of my stage 5 pics are up.
JellyBelly: TOM - Stage 5
Good Reads:
TheNewYorkTimes_M.Barry: Pedaling His Way Back to His Passion

Thursday, September 11, 2008

2008 TOM - Stage 4

Finally had a night where I chilled out here a bit. It's helping too that tomorrow's stage starts much later so some sleeping in tomorrow will be in order. :-)

Today started out with a trip down to the start. We ended up parking near the Batman Marshall Van so I found Clydesdale (knowing him only from his PdC sign on, asking for Clydesdale was odd to say the least - hello Marvin) and said hello. From there it was a trip over to the Jelly Belly guys with the peanut butter filled pretzels Danny said the guys could have. Talked to Bryce Mead for a bit and I think we need to find him a few primes to win to get the house fixed from the tree. But married life is treating him well so things are good. :-)

At the start this morning there had to be like 200+ kids. It was great to see them all in their yellow shirts and had signs for each of the teams. Looked like they hit up the tents as they all had oodles of goodies. I watched them walk around to find their teams and wondered how much sugar some had. Heading over to Jelly Belly again, I got some pics of the guys signing the kids signs, cards, and even shirts. Talking with some of the adults with the kids - hands off as they were really excited and so thrilled the Jelly Belly guys were being so nice to all the kids. The guys made sure they were all taken care of. Danny and company made sure they all had Jelly Belly Sports Beans. Good stuff. We got a couple riders and couple of the classes in group shots. It was pretty fun. The kids loved it, the adults were ever so thrilled and just loved the team, and the riders I think had some fun with it. The smiles by all were cool.

I headed over to the Garmin guys and dropped off some more coffee for C. I had hoped Eric was there as these guys must just laugh at fans. Hopefully C is enjoying the beans. As I walked around the kids outside the Garmin bus had me cracking up. They were chanting Garmin over and over. Then they started yelling at the bus as they could see riders moving around. A few girls by the door were just screaming at the guys that they had to come out and right now. DZ added to the fun by throwing out gels from the window. The kids went nuts. God bless Steven Cozza who dared to come out the door first. He was so great with the kids and I think he really had some fun with it but man was it kind of funny seeing it. Tyler Farrar was the next one to come out and face the screaming girls. Hats off to the guys that faced these kids today.

Once the riders got sent off, we headed out to catch some spots on the course. The first was an overpass. We got there and George Hincapie and Tony Cruz had like a 5 second gap on the group and were just hauling ass. We took off from that spot to head over to the 2nd KOM spot. It was a relaxing and pretty enjoyable. Meeting people and talking away as we wait for riders. The actual KOM spot was a bit further from us but it flatted out so we stayed on the incline a bit earlier. I've got my blackberry so we are able to keep up with the race from Cycling News until the radio announcer truck pulls through. The guys coming up the hill were still kickin' a good pace. We can't help but crack up with watching Rollin come flyin' up to get some more KOM points. There's just some good humor in him having that jersey. I think many of us are hoping he keeps it all week. He certainly has been a treat up on stage.

After the KOM we headed to a sharp turn on the course. A lot of people there. We heard and read about some more crashes happening. The trooper at this corner was kind of an ass but the one from the hill going up to the TT finish yesterday was so fun we forgive today's guy. The huge break (with Christian, George, Barry, Danielson, etc) flew around the corner and were high tailing it. The announcer truck had pulled in for a bit waiting for the guys. They had time gaps and rider info. I went up to the driver and handed him my blackberry for the CN update as he was missing a couple riders and his time gap info was old. With smiles, they updated, and then headed back on the road. At the time the gap was only like a minute or so but by the time the pack finally came around, it was over 5 minutes, possibly even reaching closer to 6. The difference of the break making that corner at speed and the pack just kind of riding along was enjoyable to watch. There was a kid down from us with a Go John Devine sign. One of the Columbia riders pulled over to see if they were family to let them know John had crashed and was en route to the hospital.

After that we needed to get to the finish. Some unexpected construction traffic hurt a bit but all was still good. We got to a parking lot and headed over for the finish. We got to see Barry come around the corner to do his last laps and then got to see him win! I like Michael Barry a lot and I think most do so I think just about everyone was thrilled to see him get the win. Then the rest of the break came in and it was great to see C going for the time bonuses on the finish. He came in 4th but it was still exciting.

After all that fun, it was a good 10 minutes before the pack came in. And they were totally taking it easy. The guys were talking away, smiling, goofing around. Not typical but certainly could be expected once the break got free with the top GC guys in it. As the podium stuff got underway the rain drops started. Michael Barry was adorable up on the stage. C was too and I have to admit, his smiles are contagious and I hope he keeps them coming!

Tomorrow has a chance of rain so it could be a wet one. I told the Bryce I'd bring him and the guys cookies so hopefully the rain will hold off a bit. The stage doesn't start until like 2 so there is some nice free time in the morning. I think we might try to get to a sprint point possibly. The start and finish for sure but weather will probably run the plans for the day.

Hope everyone is having a good week. I hope to update the previous days soon, maybe in the morning. I should be hurt with not having a pic of C up but I'm sure he understands. Maybe I can use the coffee beans as a bribe for now. LOL! Later!

I've been able to upload all of my pics but I haven't had anytime to do any kind of editing. To top that off, the TT pics I went through and labeled were already in the process of loading last night so I need to redo those notes on the flickr ones and edit them. Right now flickr is getting pretty frustrating with it taking so long and the editing taking forever to get in and out of so that might need to wait until I get back home. BUT... here is a link to my photo sets so you can take a look. If you go through them and recognize riders and such, please feel free to comment to help identify them. I know several but there are many I don't by just looking at them.

Some linkies:
CN: Live Report - Stage 4
CN: Stage 4 - September 11: Lebanon - Rolla, 95 miles
VN: Barry solos to stage win in Missouri; Vande Velde holds lead
Podium In Sight - Race notes, pics, and comments.

Garmin: TOM Stg 4: Vande Velde 4th on stage, hangs on to yellow; Danielson 5th overall
JellyBelly: TOM - Stage 4

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2008 TOM - Stage 3 TT

Okay - another really late night here.

The TT was awesome today! Way to go C!!!

I have a bunch of pics but uploading is giving me a headache. Tomorrow night I look to have a good chunk of time open so I can upload and write more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

2008 TOM - Stage 2

What a fun flippin' Day!!! Huge thanks to Lyne, Janann, Alan, and T for the encouragement on the stops through the stage today. It was so much fun. Huge thanks also to the team cars Lyne and I ended up in a train with on the way to Springfield as going that fast most certainly has me thankful I wear a damn seatbelt - holy crap!

The weather today was great. With a few ramp closings from construction the trip to the start was a bit off. Thank god for GARMIN though as that damn little unit has more than once eased stress of getting places this week. Other than the ramp issues, seeing dogs at the side of the road (just roaming around) while booking it at a pretty high speed got the pulse up a bit. I was happy to see them head back towards the field instead of their course in my path.

The start appeared to be pretty relaxed and the weather most certainly put everyone in a better mood today. Tony Cruz stopped over for a chat. C stopped to sign some autographs of fans and it was good to see him smiling with some hellos. Rory stopped to talk to Neal at Road again today and we said hello's to them as well. I ran into Luis when the riders took off. The guys this morning were pretty much smiles and ready to go. When T yelled to DZ looooove you" the look on his face was priceless. I wish I had caught in on camera - and thankful I was a few feet down. She is so much fun to hang around as she fears nothing and truly does love the riders.

Once the guys took off, we headed down to just before the first feed zone. It was a turn from one road to another with a small roller. As the break passed us we watched and waited for the peloton which was about 3 minutes back at that point. As the field turned the corner Columbia was in control with Garmin directly behind. C saw us as they came up and I am bummed to great shots were out of focus (especially as those before and after were great - ugh!). The guys all looked great and it was fun to be out on course as there were few people around. When Danny Van Haute of Jelly Belly went by we all got some good laughs. One has to wonder just what he thinks of us.

From there we headed out to another point that had them turning a corner. When we got there, Lyne pulled in too. The break was still going strong and Columbia was still heading the back. There were boatloads of Brad Huff fans out and about too which was great. This year instead of the "I heart Brad Huff" shirts they had on the "GO BRAD HUFF" shirts. Great stuff. (Brad came in 6th today!)

Once the guys passed us there, Lyne and I headed to Springfield. Having the team cars on the same route was pretty interesting and I have to say speeds are well... pretty damn impressive. Too bad who ever was leading their group thought they possibly missed a turn or something. Very odd.

The finish was pretty awesome. I found a spot right on the rail about 10 feet from the line. When the guys flew by - OMG were they flying. I've been to races and up close like that but it still was impressive and caused most to take a step back. Mark Cavendish won. Tyler came in 4th. Brad came in 6th.

After the stage we walked around and checked out the stuff they had going on. We met a cute little dog names Goo - sunglasses and all. We saw Danny and Brad after the press conference. From there, Lyne and I headed down to Branson to our hotel.

More to share for sure but for now, it's super late and with some ex issues going on tonight, it's time for me to call it a night. For the couple of you looking for the pics, I will try once more tonight and then it will need to wait until tomorrow.

*I'm having some issues with flickr tonight and it could just be the hotel connection. If I get the pics up check them out using yesterday's link. If not, check back tomorrow as I should have time tomorrow night to get them loaded.

Monday, September 8, 2008

2008 TOM - Stage 1

Down at the Tour of Missouri this week and so far enjoying it. I could do with out the storms we had this morning though. They were so bad that our hotel and the team hotel all lost power. Fun way to start out a morning - not.

We headed up to the start and it was chilly and windy. Many of the teams stayed in vehicles to stay warm. Can't blame them for that at all. While Lyne worked on getting some of her interviews and media stuff covered, I walked over and said hi to the Jelly Belly guys. Bernard and Brad were sweet and I got to meet their young guy Kiel. (I'm starting to think that Jelly Belly might have some of the nicest guys around. I think some teams could take a lesson as I've seen some riders actually be almost rude to fans trying to say hi. Not enjoyable to watch. So kudo's JB guys as you set high bars for fans.)

The rain we had early this morning held off for the start but the guys found it again on the way. And it followed them to the finish. Made for a damp and chilly finish for sure. There was a crash in the last lap but I'm not sure who was all in it just yet. Hopefully all the riders are okay and it was something minor. Tyler Farrar gave Cav a run for the finish today and I for one loved the head on competition. Mark won the stage but didn't blow Tyler away as he was right there at the line with him. Cavendish now leads the points, young rider, and is the overall race leader.

Better weather is in store for tomorrow but a lot of driving so it will be a long day for sure. Looking forward to catching up with some folks and once at the hotel tomorrow night I hope to work on the pics a little more. I am way too tired tonight to upload pics here as it takes time to get them to look right but feel free to check some out that I dumped in flickr tonight. I also loaded with some captions on my Facebook page. Here is the listing of the results. Check out Cycling News for a write up and results as well.

Lyne has a couple updates from today on her site - Podium In Sight as well so make sure to check it out.

PopUp started a thread at Podium Cafe that I'm sure once video is up for viewing will be more active during the week. Feel free to join them in the chats this week.