Everyone has perks at work but it always catches me off guard when I remember how cool some of those perks can be! I knew with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge coming to town, there was a chance that I would have to drop everything and head out on the road to travel to a stage or do something promotional, but I wasn’t really expecting the phone call I got.
On Sunday night I got a massage and I was feeling quite relaxed after a couple weeks of running around and of course a roll over car accident. So going into the week I was ready to take on anything. At work I was paying attention to the USA Pro race and on Wednesday I got a phone call. “I worked out a deal with Astana, they need a van, can you bring it to Beaver Creek?” I knew that I needed to be at Reubens on Saturday but I figured those cards would fall into place later. So I headed home packed my things and headed out. I arrived in Beaver Creek in time to set things up, but by the time the race was over the finish was just by the team hotels so my services were just barely needed. So we stickered up the van with its credentials and went out to watch the peloton pass by.
After a nice evening with the folks from Training Peaks as well as my boss Bruce. Bruce had been following along with the team for the first days of the race, riding a motorcycle for the stages to get a good view. He had already had several amazing adventures, but I don’t think he expected what was about to happen.
Breckenridge Colorado was just a great scene. The parking was tight for the team vehicles but we managed to really put together a nice spot for the guys to relax in. The team instantly took to the van and relaxed in its seats, listened to music and prepared for the day. It provided just enough barrier for them to separate themselves from the crowds but not so much that they couldn’t interact and sign autographs for fans. When the call came they were instantly gone and I was looking at a lot of stuff. Boxes of food and bottles and whatnot all cluttered the area and I kinda wondered how we had accumulated so much stuff in such a short period of time! I packed up and headed out.
Transit was down 70 to 470 and finally down 25 to the springs. I ended up following Garmin for the majority of the way and set up instantly when I arrived.
I walked out to the road as a slight drizzle began and watched as the peloton came over I25 with the mountains in the background. You can’t ask for a better view than this!
When they passed by Bruce arrived on his motorcycle and he took his helmet off and I could see a look that I hadn’t seen before. Keep in mind I have worked with Bruce for 10 years and he was like a kid on Christmas morning. He told me all about riding ahead of the peloton, the crowds the security the cheering. His love for bike racing was absolutely clear and he had just experienced one of the greatest feelings that he could imagine. He saw the stage from the pelotons perspective and it was absolutely lined with fans and they were cheering him on just like they were going to cheer on their heros in only a few minutes!
The riders arrived from the stage and the team got to work, loading bikes, providing some post race support including massages, hydration and of course some food. The riders sunk into the area we had put together for them instantly and made a quick home while a bit of rain began.
Just as quickly as they arrived they were gone again. But we continued to have visitors even after the team left including Mario Cipollini and 3rd place finisher in that days stage and friend of the shop Alessandro Bazzana.
I’m a bit of a softy, so at one point I turned around and saw this scene playing out and it was really nice. Two shy kids were coaxed by their father to go talk to the BMC guys. The guys in the BMC car were patient and talked to the kids they gave them some cycling caps and those kids are psyched. They walked away with such big smiles on their faces!
It reminded me of a time a few years ago when I saw Travis Pastrana take a good long period of time to sit down and talk to a young fan. It is really nice to see that patience in such high paced and pressured environments.
When things had wound down Bruce and I loaded up the van, this time loading up all of our equipment AND his 1200cc BMW. Wow things were tight in the van for the ride home but we made it and loaded it up for the next mornings adventure in Golden.
We arrived in Golden a bit early and despite the efforts of one absolutely cranky volunteer we were able to get all our gear set up quickly for the guys. Each day we were learning more about what they needed and what would work nicely for their base camp and in Golden we were able to ramp it up even more with multiple tents, walls and more in order to give them a nice place to stay and a slight buffer from the fans. We also brought our Feedback stands to give them a better place to keep their bikes as well.
The Team was very into the van, glad to have it as a resource and we were able to make their day a lot easier by just handling all this additional setup and teardown that they simply didn’t have the staff to do.
At one point everyone was loading up in the team cars and the Team Director looked at me and told me I need to tell you want to do, but I trust you so I will see you in Boulder. It was his way of saying, yes, I need to say this but I know you will handle it. That felt pretty good actually and I am glad that I was able to enstill trust in him in such a short period of time.
As the cars pulled away I started to look around and saw all the other teams had campers with a button that retracted everything, I started to scramble and got our two tents, 3 walls, 6 chairs, bike rack, food, bottles and more all packed up and secured for the transit to Boulder.
On the way up we were following the peloton and stopped quite frequently, I chatted with several people through the windows of the van and heard many more cheer for Excel as I passed by. I arrived in Boulder and set up quickly then headed into town to watch the stage on TV at Rueben’s Burger Bistro.
The final day was upon us and I rode my Cruiser bike into Denver from the Highlands area. No need to deal with parking on a day like this! We set up a great spot and got the area prepared with trainers, shade and a comfortable area to work in. Then we took a look around. WOW! Words can’t describe the size of this thing…
We got back to the van to see everyone had arrived and were preparing.
Riders were warming up, they were leaving at various times to head out for their start position and at one point I was told “Get in the car with Roman.” So I did!
Roman put down a quick time with us in a van behind. We cheered him on while looking at his time splits to see how he was doing. The crowds were amazing and we passed by them in a heartbeat.
At the end of the day Janez put down a time that was able to move him up from 8th to 5th in the GC standings. He felt he could have pushed harder, but he just didn’t feel the power that day. For us, this was a great finish to a great race and for him you could see how much this race wore on him, a week of recovery will probably be needed as he prepares for the next one.
As we were packing up Goradz the Team Director came up to me and said “I borrowed your bike earlier.” I knew that he had and said so. He said “I rode it over to the timing, they immediately grabbed it, put it on the scale they measured the wheelbase and said ‘No, you can’t race! It is too heavy!” Wow do I wish I had a picture of that!
What a great experience. I have my fingers crossed that we are able to do the same for them again next Year. the guys were so appreciative and we really wanted to help them more and more because of that. USA pro is definitely an awesome race and we are really psyched to have it in our neck of the woods!