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.
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.
But the best spectator of all was "horn guy"...you'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.
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 year...you 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 year...so 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. Baldy....it'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.