Sunday, June 08, 2008

Philly - The Day

I'm sitting in the parking lot of a well known burger chain, resting my mind before getting back on the road. I had fries (I normally don't) to replenish all the salt I lost, standing out in the 95 degree heat.

It was a pretty full day - I saw a bike crash, another bike crash, and road rash. Both crashes were spectators (one was a road bike + BMX crash, the other was a mountain bike and barrier incident) and the road rash, well, it seems that some of the staff really get into the race, right down to the road rash on their legs. I did see some pros with road rash, and one Jelly Belly racer was literally shaking after the race, I think the heat really affected him.

I spoke very briefly with a relatively well known Swedish pro on the Slipstream team, thanked him for a favor he'd done, and would you believe it, he remembered and seemed genuinely happy to hear about it. He even shook my hand. I also wandered over to the dope testing area after the race to see two of the three racers signing forms and such. Finally, at some point earlier in the day, I reminded Dave Chauner (he runs the whole thing) that I turned him away at Bethel because he had a PRO license. He laughed. I suppose that was the only thing he could do, other than kick me out. But he seemed to be a good sport about it.

I did get a shirt, cap, and little pass holder thing out of the deal. The cap, when it finally dried out in the car, looked like someone had done 156 miles on a bike while wearing it. And although I didn't quite do 156 miles, I was standing out in the sun for pretty much 8 hours (7:30 to about 5). I won't count the 25-30 minutes I spent doing a lap in one of the cars, nor will I count the last 20 minutes of the race. By then I'd started feeling a bit woozy and I had to go sit down in the tent.

When I was out there one guy asked me if I'd race "a while ago". He's a photographer, and after a little bit of thinking, I thought, "Oh, maybe this is the guy that was at Floyd Bennet Field on a Giant." I remember thinking, "Man, that guy has huge quads", and said so to my teammate. He replied that my quads were about the same size, which made me reassess that other guy's quads again.

No, they were definitely bigger.

"Did you ride a Giant?"
"Did you go to Floyd Bennet Field?"

So it was him. He was a 4 back then, upgraded to 3s, but then life got in the way of cycling. What I didn't realize is that we raced together over TEN years ago. I was thinking, yeah, what, like a few years ago. Nope. Ten.

He brought a bazillion ice cold waters to the race (he's a photographer now) and shared a bunch of them with me, metered out steadily so they were always cold.

Let me tell you, if you want to make friends at a hot race, give them something cold to drink.

I did meet some guy in a huge entourage, he looked like a very important person. He would be, he's the mayor. He had two appropriately intimidating black SUVs (hybrids, for real), about four guys with guns and earpieces (the latter even had curly white cable, kind of like what you'd expect from a Secret Service agent). He's the first VIP that got to ride on the back of a police motorcycle, surrounded by other moto-cops, and chased by the two black SUVs full of (I'm sure) very worried bodyguards.

There was another guy who got a ride in a VIP car (air conditioned, and he didn't look like a motorcycle type). One of the Senators from the state.

You know, I'm lucky if the First Selectman shows up at the Bethel race. One year he did, one of the first years we held the race, but he didn't say too much. Just parked his truck and watched us work.

Unnerved by this quiet guy who looked like he was casing the joint, I asked him who he was. He said his name. Um, didn't mean anything to me.

"I'm the First Selectman."

Oh. Oops.

He came to check on the race, make sure it seemed properly handled. Satisfied that it was, he gave it his blessings. Luckily he didn't ask for a motorcycle ride.

After the race ended, we coordinated some driving, walking, and "getting stuff" plans. I met with the first "F" of the FoF, the second "F", and we said our goodbyes. I drove the first F back up to Trexlertown, the velodrome place.

He'd left his car there, rode to Philly. It's kind of far. It took me an hour to drive there and we weren't dwaddling. And he rode that yesterday. Jeepers.

While there I took the opportunity to check out the track where I raced eons ago. Seemed bigger, whiter, and smoother than I remember. Memories, they're not so reliable.

Speaking of which, it used to be that Pennsylvania would ticket you if you were going 1 mph over the limit. Either the troopers were on vacation or they're a little less strict because I was by far the slowest car out there.

Now that I'm refueled, I need to refuel the car in this very cheap gas place, New Jersey. Then it's back on the road and back home to the missus.

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