Saturday, January 13, 2007

Florida: Day Two

Today's been pretty good so far. We went out early for about 3 hours - and although I started out wearing a SS jersey, LS jersey, and a vest up top, I finished wearing just the jersey and shorts. And I felt warm. Mid 70's so not bad at all. Just Gene and I as there was a 50 mile mountain bike "ride" which drew in Gary and Mandy. As Gene quoted Gary, "You race it even though it's not a race."

I let Gene take all the "sprints" today, pushing him forward for the first couple.

Afterwards, we went to the Gators Football Championship celebration. As a person who doesn't know about stadium sports, I only started realizing it was a big deal when they were replaying the game over and over again on TV and local stores were selling a commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated celebrating their success. Around campus there were various vendors selling shirts, caps, flags, and all sorts of stadium looking things.

The celebration took place in their school stadium. Now you collegiate football fans probably realize this but this stadium isn't the dinky one that was at my school (UCONN, 16,000 students at the time). This stadium is larger than Giant Stadium - it holds 92,000 people! It's enormous. I'd guess it was just about 2/3 full, so maybe 50,000 - 60,000 people there. A big section was closed off - it's where the 2006 Champions stuff was painted and where the big screen sat, so I guess they didn't want people there. My brush with greatness - they introduced the two coaches we saw yesterday at dinner.

In the middle of the thing I thought of something. I leaned over to Gene.

"Hey, those guys up there on the stage, they're going to be worth millions next year, aren't they?"
"Well, that guy there, yes. Those two there, a little less. But yes, they'll be worth millions."

It's interesting. These guys are technically amateurs. They're basically kids, 21-22 years old (there were two freshmen too, but they'll still be in school next year). Kind of like your average Cat 1 if you're comparing football to cycling. And next year the good football players will sign contracts worth millions of dollars. That kind of thing doesn't happen in cycling. A good Cat 1 might sign a $5,000 or $10,000 contract to turn pro for a domestic team. Only after you've proven yourself as a pro cyclist would you think about $100,000 or more. But the football players, in their first year playing professionally, they'll be paid perhaps the equivalent of a whole pro cycling team's annual budget. Even the lowest paid pro ball players will probably make more in their first year in the NFL than many pro cyclists make in their whole life.

It's pretty sobering.

It reminds me that I'm happy where I am as a middling Cat 3, able to enjoy racing without the pressure of performance.

So, now we'll rest up, hopefully meet Gary, Mandy, and a couple friends for dinner or a movie, and prep for tomorrow. If today was a "non-stage" in our Tour of Gainesville, tomorrow would be the traditional Bordeaux stage - the longest day of the Tour. We'll be joined by former 80's pro Andy something or another and plan on going for 5 hours. Based on the forecast (80's) and our current soreness levels (light) it should be quite feasible.

The fight for the sprints will start in earnest too.

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