Friday, June 06, 2008

Racing - Philly, preview

The Philly race is coming up this Sunday. It's a race that I've gone to watch a few times, in different formats.

1. VIP - I scored (or rather, someone gave me) VIP tickets for a few years, letting me eat and drink at VIP tents near the pits (just past the start/finish), ride a shuttle to the Manayunk Wall, and eat/drink at the VIP area up there. We weren't V-VIPs, just VIPs, so we had to wait for the buses, and it took forever to navigate around the closed roads. The real VIPs get driven on the course so they zip back and forth in 10-12 minutes, not the hour or so it took us to go each way.

2. Stay at a friend's house in Manayunk - we stayed a block from the top of the Wall, woke up at a leisurely hour, and watched the race both on TV as well as the street. We went back inside to watch the finish I think, skipping a hellacious drive to get to the start/finish area 7 miles away before the racers disappeared from the course. The cool (temperature wise) apartment was a bonus in the normally stifling heat of Philly.

3. Go with friends. One of my friends raced with some of the guys racing around the course, and he'd saunter around and say hi to them. And of course we'd cheer for any locals from Connecticut or the nearby area, racers we'd be more likely to see at our local crits. I was most tired from those trips, pink from spending the whole day in the sun, hoarse from yelling, and exhausted from all the walking about.

I'll have to dig up some old pictures and such for a later time, but right now the 2008 Philly race is at the forefront of my mind.

The current story starts a couple years ago when I got an email asking me about the Bethel Spring Series, specifically about the Masters races. His email to me went something like this:
i am very interested to know more about your event.
i am 47 years of age.
thanks in advance for your help.
The not-even-a-question was so general that I turned to the then-future-missus and said, "Either he's totally clueless or he's an ex-pro who's being modest".

You can guess which way this one went.

After we verified that he "used to race", he reluctantly admitted that he raced at a pretty high level at some point. You may have heard of one of his teammates, guy by the name of Steve. He has a buddy named Eddie, both share the last name.


Yeah, that Steve. Ends up that this humble Mystery Racer used to be on the Canadian National Team, when Steve Bauer rode with them. You may have heard of another CNT teammate, Louis Garneau, who decided he could make a living making cycling clothing rather than turning pro. I duly reported my discovery to the missus, even though she didn't know who Bauer was, except he helped design the Hamilton course where she and I watched the blood-dope-suspected Astarloa win his one (and I think only) Worlds. Incidentally did you see Astarloa win Liege that year? I don't think he needed to open his mouth to breath, and the way he looked so calm on the bike, I think he only needed one nostril at that.


Mister Mystery came to the race, said hi, had fun racing, and sort of disappeared. I literally have not seen him since. He'd occasionally touch base with me, asking me about a long dormant project of mine (once he learned about it he went kind of nuts and really wants me to finish it), and has been cheerleading me on the project every now and then.

This has gone on for, what, like two years.

So, after a yet-to-be described stressful month or so, I got a nicely timed email from said Mystery Racer, once again asking about my project. I reported my lack of progress on the dormant project, citing the stressful stuff, and he predictably kicked my butt about getting it going again. It worked, sort of, but it took a very long talk with my sister in law to actually push me over the edge, and that dormant project started moving forward again.

Mystery knew my love for bike racing and since my dormant project has to do with racing, he knew that it'd get me going if I could immerse myself in a racing environment. Or at least this is what I figure he was thinking.

It all came down to this. A short time ago I got an email from him. Well, probably a text message, because he's hip like that, but it goes to my email because I'm not as hip like that.

"So what are you doing the weekend of the 7th and 8th?" (translate to appropriate txt msg words)

Philly week? Well, the last remnants of my yet-to-be-described life had a scheduled appointment at 2:30 PM on Saturday the 7th about 45 minutes away, just south of Hartford.

It seems that, well, he had something else to offer. Problem was that it also involved a 2:30 PM Saturday appointment. Followed by being out and about the whole day on Sunday.

In Philadelphia.

I'm no Superman (or The Flash, maybe) so I can't zip back and forth, attending both Saturday meetings in strobe light fashion, a millisecond at a time. I had to make a choice. Because the yet-to-be-described thing is on its last legs, I decided the Hartford appointment loses.

I ran this by the missus because, as I tried to point out to someone much more experienced in marriage than I am (he told me, "Look, I've been married 23 years, I understand!"), I may not do as the missus says but I run all things I do by her and I definitely wouldn't do something she says not to do. In other words she has veto rights. I think it's only fair, else I wouldn't have married her.

Since my decision to skip over the Hartford appointment would affect both of us, not just me, I needed to run it by her. She guessed at my decision before I could even get to it, and although somewhat reluctant, she gave it her (reluctant) seal of approval. Although there is only one type of rejection, there are two types of approvals - the quick one and the reluctant one. For comparison sake she was wondering why I didn't buy my bike quicker - I think her words were "What are you waiting for?", but she gave a reluctant seal of approval for the DV46cs "Well, are you sure you want those wheels?"

Come to think of it, I don't think she vetos anything. If she looks at me a certain way then I quickly admit to myself that, yeah, laying out $5k for a backup bike probably wouldn't be a good idea. I had briefly toyed with the idea of buying a second identical bike. Key word: briefly. I guess that whole veto thing is not there to be used, simply something there to make me think about what I just proposed.

Anyway, after all that talk, the end result is that I'd be going to Philly to help with the race.

Strictly volunteer, mind you, but still, it's a different level from all the other times I went to Philly for the race. In a couple days either I'll be extremely disappointed or extremely stoked.

We'll see what happens.

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