Friday, May 20, 2011


What a day we had. Greg and I went down to Los Olivos (it's the turn-around point in the TT course) and were on our bikes by about 8:30am. Oh wait...I meant to say that I was sick and couldn't make it to work today. Cough cough. Hack. Wheeze. Groan. Vomit. (sorry...that last one might be over the top).

And being as I WAS so very sick, I figured I might as well enjoy the race. Even feeling so poorly, I was able to ride the course into Solvang, where the bike valet wasn't yet open. We had carried small packs with walking shoes, so we changed shoes and ditched most of the extra layer and wandered thru thru the madness of the ToC expo for an hour. About 10 we decided we should get back on the course before they close it, and made our way back to Los Olivos. There we picked up our folding chairs and a tasty sandwich from a deli, and made our way (still on bikes) up onto the Ballard Canyon climb where I go for every Solvang TT. We set up shop on the full switchback about a third of the way up, which was a bit farther down the hill than I usually go. I was thinking to avoid some of the crowd, and it was a good call. The upper part of the hill was pretty chaotic by the time the Pro men started to come thru.

Here is our little piece of land we staked out. I then chalked up the road. Where else would we sit but HORNER KORNER? That's our little camp under the tree in deep shade...Greg is sitting in his chair reading cycling mags, and the bikes are sitting against the fence.

Suffice to say it was just a blast as always to have each and every rider come by one at a time, spreading out the fun of watching a pro bike race into hours instead of moments. The weather really came thru for us too...sunny and warm...probably around mid 70's where we were sitting. Actually, it was kind of HOT, being as we had no breeze at all, and I had moved my chair out of it's original position under a gigantic oak tree as the riders were also in that shade when I tried to photo them. So I moved into the sun and cooked for the entire duration of the mens TT.

Big Hair Superfan made his way up the hill early on, and he's quite a character. A superhero costume with a gigantic afro. And crazy sunglasses.

 Greg and I with Big Hair Superfan. I'm on the left in my Fatty jersey.

But the best spectator of all was "horn guy"'ve all seen him....the guy who has a football hemlet with Elk antlers on them and runs alongside Levi and select other riders as they crest some big climb? Typically he's wearing a LEVI jersey (reputedly he's a friend of Levi's also from Montana). Today he made his way up the climb wearing a NEW helmet: it had Big Horn Sheep horns on it! And he was carrying the 'elk horn' helmet...both looked fairly heavy.

Horn-guy walking up the hill in his NEW (at least to me) Big-Horn-Sheep helmet

 Here's Horn-guy waiting for Levi in his 'original' elk-horn helmet

Here are a few pics of some of 'my fav's:

The Z-man Dave Zabriske, WINNER of the 2011 ToC TT!

Taylor Phinney in his Stars & Stripes kit (I've got my autographed Z-man pic wearing HIS S&S kit from the TT a few years back hanging on the wall, thanks Jannan!) 

Big George Hincapie putting the hurt to the hill

Andy Schleck, (the NEXT winner of the TDF?)

And finally, the shot I waited ALL day for, my man Chris Horner. Yes, THIS is my shot of Chris. I call it an EXTREME CLOSEUP!

Of ALL the riders who came by today, not ONE of them took the outside line thru the switchback (where I was set-up with my chair and camera/tripod). Until the LAST rider that is...Sure...the ONE shot I desperately wanted. He almost ran over my feet for crying out loud! Sorry Chris if I slowed you down by being in your way. Maybe he was so excited about seeing "Horner Korner" that he wasn't watching where he was going. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Sure glad I didn't make the news as THE GUY who wiped out Horner in the TT!

After Horner had gone by I spotted Horn-guy coming down the hill with the throngs of people, and he now had on a "Horner" jersey....(he had his Levi Jersey on when he went up). VERY sneaky of him...hedging his bet. I was totally rooting for Chris to hold his lead and shouted myself hoarse when he went by (that and shouting in horror/fear that I was about to take him out sitting in my chair). Greg did a time check after Levi passed, and it was 2:40 when Horner zoomed by. I was pretty stoked that he had only lost 40 seconds at this point, as pretty much all the climbing was past and it was only about 7 miles to the finish (the remaining road is a really fast section). So I was hoping he'd be fast enough to hold the lead, and he DID! WAY TO GO CHRIS!!!

I had to switch camera's right as the last 15 riders were due. Go figure, I was HOPING my new little 14mp LUMIX camera (actually bought it for last years ToC) would last the day, and it ALMOST did. Anyway, I brought my old 8mp Canon as a backup, lucky for me. Maybe next time I will SKIP the first 50 or so riders so-as to be sure it will last thru the end (I took pics of EVERY RIDER that went by, checking them off in order so I could number the pics w/ names afterwards, just like I do every year). So once again I have a nice little file of riders pictures. And that about wrapped up the day. I was very sad that Jens Voigt had dropped out, I didn't even know he was hurt! Also quite sad that Fabian didn't show up this just can't have too many pics of Fabian. Oh well...that's racing.

And now I must touch upon the sad subject (Tyler Hamilton's big new confession). Bobke mentioned something about it last night, but I hadn't heard about it yet. I peeked online (just after I posted this) and saw the articles and video, but decided not to go there. Floyd nearly ruined things for me last what, now it's Tylers turn?? I peeked in again just a bit ago and of course, it's huge news. But again, I refuse to go there. I'll read up on things later. For now, we've got a bike race, and a dang good one! I won't be at the stage tomorrow to Mt.'s just too far of a drive for me, and I've got things to do at home (including getting out for a road ride myself). But I hope to go down to Thousand Oaks on Sunday and watch the circuits and the finish. And I will be sending Chris all my energy to hang in there and win this thing. Tomorrow will be the big tell though...if he can hang on to the top of Mt Baldy (and better yet, pull away from the competitors nipping at his heels) like he did on Sierra Rd, then he is THE MAN. Well, he is THE MAN no matter what. But it would be so very sweet for him to win this.

OK, it's late and I'm tired (and a bit crispy...sitting in the sun all day sucks your energy. I only stayed in the shade until the riders started coming by, then I had to move into the sun to get pics). I'm just thankful we had a great day, and I didn't hear of anybody getting hurt. Just a great day of racing. I'll post some rider pics tomorrow when I get a chance.



  1. Strange stuff going on once again. What is it w/ the ToC that it is the springboard for new allegations and such? I saw an article on VN that George H. had told 60 minutes that he and Lance used EPO together. Then just now on the ToC site I saw twitter feeds and there was this from Big George: "I can confirm to you I never spoke with "60 Minutes." I have no idea where they got their information." Interesting. Seems reporters are getting whiff's of info and whipping out articles based on it, w/ no fact checking going on.

  2. Oh, and Susie...I saw your 'lengthy comment on the 'Bobke' post (I get emails of all comments). I have the email, and I can only guess that there might be an, uhm, er...'swearing' filter in blogspot? (You did use the 'f' word after all)...I'm a big boy and not complaining mind you, there's no little kiddies reading here (as far as I know). I will have to go thru the fine print of all the rules here someday and see if that's the case...all I know is that I didn't remove it (moderate it). Just so you know.

    I do know that from what little I've seen on this NEW breaking story makes me very sad. No matter the motivation, absolutely NO GOOD can come from this continuing investigation. The line has already been drawn, back 'then' was then, this is now. I'm sorry for all the athletes that 'had' to make the horrible choice to dope if they wanted to be competitive in years past (I can only assume that is true, it sounds likely). But I can't change it, and neither will this. Taxpayer money is being wasted continuing this witch-hunt, and even if true it won't change anything for the better that hasn't already been changed.

    That's all I've got to say on this horrible subject for now, because TODAY is the finale of our amazing race. Greg and I will be down in Thousand Oaks for the finish, and I'm going to soak it all in and enjoy it. It will be a glorious day to see Horner crowned Champion of this years ToC. With Levi at his side most likely. Pretty awesome day if you ask me.

  3. Hey Matt - I didn't think you did, I figured the site "ate" it again, as it has done other comments, but usually that's BEFORE I type in the passcode thing. Doesn't matter.

    Very happy that you got to go to the TT & then yesterday - can't wait for your write-up on that. I wish you had gone to Mt Baldy too. Can you try to do that stage next year? I was shocked to see so FEW people there, heck, it's the 1st "real" mountain top finish in the ToC & it was on Saturday & I thought there'd be TONS of people! The last 1000 meters looked like a ghost town. At least that's how it showed on TV. Especially compared to the Giro stage Saturday.

    Did you watch Tyler on 60 Minutes? Tape it, I mean, since it was on at the exact time of the ToC. Janann's right, he did look old & I thought a bit twitchy on some of the questions. Plus, he did lie about at least 1 thing - he said NO one in his family knew til just recently. Well, from what I read about OP & his case before that, his then-wife knew as she facilitated. Maybe he no longer counts her as 'family' as she's now his EX-wife, but still. Anyway, I thought he actually came off pretty well. And he DID emphasize that pretty much "everyone" in the sport was doing the same thing AND that doping was going on at Postal BEFORE Lance got there. However, if that's all the 'Inquisitors' had, I think Lance would still not been harmed THAT much as the guy did LIE for 7 years. Plus, I think he took money too from the public (although not near as much as FRAUD Landis) & would be something the defense repeatedly pounds.

    But the GAME CHANGER is if George testified to what 60 Minutes said in the piece. If true, I don't see how Lance gets off untouched. If he tries attacking George like he has everyone else, he will alienate many of his longtime supporters.

    Thw whole thing makes me sick. If they can't go back & prosecute EVERYONE in the sport the last 30 freakin years, what is the point?! And what 'crime' could they pin on Lance? Where is the criminal prosecution of BONDS & that Yankee guy that admitted he doped when he was "younger" (laugh, snort, laugh). Plus, ALL of baseball during the 90s? Hell, they HAD proof of Bond's doping & he still mostly got off.

    Even if they don't indict (which I would be shocked at this point if they don't), Lance's reputation & legacy is forever damaged. If he really does not realize that then for the 1st time, I'd have to say he is NOT so smart. But, there will also be people like me, who don't give a rat's ass & still think he was one of if not THE best cyclist of all time & an inspirational hero to millions of cancer sufferers & a hero to me.

    And besides the destruction of an American Hero, the other 2 things that make me sick is that GL & Betsy A are lovin it. I don't care if Lance injected rocket fuel, he will ALWAYS be a better MAN than LeMond!

  4. Matt - when are you changing your cable? Now that you no longer have to shell out for the tiny turtles (shell...turtles...get it...oh, I couldn't stop myself!), haven't you freed up enough cash?

    Will you be getting something that offers both Versus AND Universal Sports? Please, please, please! VS is going to be airing almost daily coverage of both the Suisse & Dauphine next month! Don't think it's live, but still, I don't remember daily coverage before. And I wish you had Universal NOW so you could be watching the Giro with us.

    Of course, I'm not loving the Giro this year AT all. 1st, the tragic death of Wouter. And then, the course (WHY didn't the sprinter teams protest when the course was announced? Freakin SWITZERLAND doesn't have that many mountains!) And last, but NOT least, is the presence of Pistol Punk in the race. Who is so far ahead of everyone else on all the mt stages, the only way to see the other riders on the same TV screen as AC is from the helicopter camera. Pulled WAY back. So, when he wins & the CAS rules against him, does he get to KEEP the Giro win? And what if another rider in this race pops for Clenbuterol DURING the race?! 'Um, gee, um, can't really throw you out when the leader of the race popped for the same thing last year'.

    I'm surprised how Menchov & Sastre are doing. Haven't even SEEN Carlos since the TTT the 1ST day & the only time I've seen Menchov was on Saturday, when he didn't lose TOO much time to AC on the Zoncolan stage. THIS race is their big goal this year as they can't come to the Tour & both are doing pretty bad considering. Don't know if they've been sick or injured as haven't seen a thing written about either.

    I feel bad for Nibbles (Nibali) as the Italian press are supposedly all over him for not being able to keep up with Pistol Punk, stuff like if you couldn't do it, why isn't Basso here (they're on the same team).

    I must say, even without the dope positive & that I dislike AC so much, it would STILL not be exciting to watch as the drama was sucked out by the 2ND mt stage! The only interesting thing left is who will finish 2-3, especially as the 2ND guy MAY "inherit" the win.

    And I have to wonder - can NO one else do that little skip-dance up the mt? I'm surprised no one else has yet tried to mimic it, like when Lance started to quick pedal up mts & pretty soon everyone was doing it except Ulrich. AC's mt skip is so distinctive, if you put a bag over his head & put him in unmarked jersey, you'd STILL know who it is!

    Switching, um, gears to the ToC. Happy for Horner but sad for Levi as I know how badly he wanted it too. I wasn't surprised though because I think Horner was PISSED that he didn't get total team support at Vasco when he was the previous winner. That he shared team leader duties & then Klodi had that fantastic TT to put him in the lead, man, you could tell Horner was not thrilled even though he tried to be as PC as he could muster. I think after that, he was DRIVEN to win the ToC.

    And you all know I love Horner, but I do think he's letting his head run amuck. He announced NO one except Contador can beat him in the mts. Um, really? You can't go by Andy's ToC results, he uses that race for TRAINing. It sure will be interesting to see how Radio Shack functions at the Tour this year. Can you really have FOUR co-leaders? Who's left to block wind & fetch bottles?!

  5. Matt - a great post and nice pics! I laughed when I thought again about that autographed pick of DZ (WITH the cheesy beard/stache) that Cataldo got signed for us. You got a great pic of him this year! Your pic of Horner looks so familiar somehow. Oh, wait, it looks like 80% of my Tour of Missouri pictures. Seems like I could just never predict who was going to ride what line. Sounds like a fun day and I'm excited to hear bout the last stage.

    I am THRILLED for Horner! He is just one of my favorite riders and has worked so long and diligently for everyone else in his career. Though I usually dislike arrogance in any form (that crack about only Contador dropping him caught my attention right away too), I'm willing to cut him a little slack :) It certainly will be ever so interesting to see how RS operates during the Tour. That is a LOT of leaders!

    Pleased to have our old Susie comments back here!! As for the Tyler interview....
    You could tell that the interview was painful for him to do and he absolutely tried to continually direct the interview in such a way that it was clear he was saying that nearly EVERYONE was doing the same thing. He was clearly reluctant to reveal things specifically about Lance. I think that this is probably something that has literally eaten him up inside. Everyone always said that Tyler was the closest one to LA during the beginning of his Postal run and that if he ever came clean there would be details revealed. I thought that he came across as a credible source and I truly do hope he can find some peace. Can you imagine going for as long as he has without telling his family and friends? There are some extra videos - outtakes, extra footage, etc on the 60 minutes site that were interesting.

    I'd love to know how the heck they got information from George, who says that he didn't speak with them. that is suspicious to me, though I'm not surprised at what he had to say. Lance has been in a "search and destroy" mode against Frankie, Floyd, and Tyler - but I don't see how that will work with George. Everyone in the peloton respects GH.

    I know that it would be easier for all of us to NOT hear any more about what WAS going on, but I'm of the mindset that it needs to come out if the sport is ever going to change. I still will think that Lance was a remarkable rider and it does indeed seem like, at least among the very top riders, he was competing on a level playing field. On the other hand, he does not have the right to stand above the fallout that has already ruined lives/careers if he was indeed as heavily involved as anyone else and, even more, promoting this to teammates who desperately wanted to ride for him in the Tour. He has done amazing work and is such an inspirational figure - to me still - but I none the less think that someone needs to get to the bottom of this. I don't believe that there won't always be some who are finding ways to get around the rules, but it would be great if young riders didn't have to make the choice between doping and following their dreams.

    Whew! My 2 cents, as Matt would say.

  6. Oh, and I meant to say bravo for this

    "And besides the destruction of an American Hero, the other 2 things that make me sick is that GL & Betsy A are lovin it. I don't care if Lance injected rocket fuel, he will ALWAYS be a better MAN than LeMond!"