Saturday May 22, ToC ITT stage, downtown Los Angeles
Headed down the mountain from Big Bear early, before breakfast even opened. Eric Greene drove the van/trailer rig because he is more experienced with it. Fine with me, I was not looking forward to trying to keep it under control on those long, steep downhills. And there was no need for Eric to be in a chase car because the stage today is a time trial in downtown Los Angeles. We’ll be all set up downtown before the racing even starts.
We all made it down off the mountain without incident, although I did hear later from Dan the RV driver that the brakes on the Jelly Belly RV started smoking on the descent. Toasted jelly beans, anyone?
We got to the team parking area across from the Staples Center before most other teams, although it looked like some of them came down last night. I wandered over to the race start grandstand and found Cary Alpert and Eric Smith working there. Cary is the current president of one of the cycling clubs to which I belong, South Bay Wheelmen, and Eric is the director of the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix bike race. Eric put together the TT course for today and has been working on it for 8 months. He said it has been like a bad dream, with ongoing changes to the course due to the normal stuff that happens in a big city – pavement gets torn up, lanes get shut down, construction equipment and material shows up on the road unexpectedly, floods, fires and locusts. But it all comes together today and then he can relax for 15 minutes before going back to work on the Manhattan Beach race.
We headed over to the JW Marriott where we will be staying tonight to check in and wait for the RV to arrive with the racers. I was sitting in the lobby near the front door and one of the fellows running the road crew for Radio Shack was standing there working away on his PDA. Somebody came up to him and delivered a cardboard tray of 30 brown eggs. I counted them, 30 brown eggs, looked to be hard-boiled. Not that I understood, and he didn’t seem to be expecting them either. Do racers like to eat hard-boiled eggs before a time trial? Somebody fill me in.
As the morning progressed the hubbub and noise level in the lobby just kept increasing. Finally our racers arrived, we got all checked in with luggage stowed in the rooms, and headed over to the team area to wait for the races to start. I had an opportunity to ride in the team car following Chris Baldwin, and being driven by Gordon Fraser, who was a top-flight domestic pro just a few years ago. At one point we had a moto-commissaire maybe 100 meters in front of us going into a blind 90 degree turn. As Gordon drove into the turn we saw Chris taking evasive action to avoid the motorcycle which somehow lost grip in the turn and slid out on its side. Gordon had to jam the brakes and haul the wheel around to get past the crash.
That was pretty much the extent of the excitement for me. The rest of the day I just sat around the team area chatting with fans who stopped by and listening to announcer Dave Towle introducing each racer and bantering with Jamie Smith. Jamie has a fun blog called Riders Ready that I visit pretty regularly. He lives near where I used to live in Michigan, so I get an occasional reminder of the old country. Also saw Bill Walton in front of the hotel loading his massive custom Holland bike frame on his roof rack. Walton is a well-known Dead-head, check out the paint job on the frame in my pic posting.
It was truly a beautiful day in downtown LA, bright blue sky and temperate. When I moved here in 1981 I would have been choking in smog most days at this location. Something is working right…
Here are my pictures on the day: ToC2010_May22