Monday, July 23, 2012

Gruppo Compacto

Cascade Cycling Classic, the longest continuously running stage race in the country.

I'm driving one of the cars again: COM 2, Commissaire #2. This is a neat gig; I see the entire race in my rearview mirror. And if there is a breakaway, we duck right behind them. Team support cars have to ask my official for permission to talk to their riders, or to hand over water bottles.

My car is the law out there. Pay attention or suffer the wrath of Belvert the Enforcer.

After my morning swim, I made a quick stop downtown for breakfast before the race. On the menu: The Cardiac Burger, which consists of:
  • Hamburger Patty
  • Sausage Patty
  • Fried Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • American Cheese
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Pepperjack Cheese
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • No veggies
  • Calories: You don't want to know
Uh, not today.

A passenger in my vehicle is Amanda, local sports reporter and celebrity. Also a lifetime swimmer, so I'm peppering her with questions about the pool. Here she is...

Wait for it, wait for it...

Today's stage started and ended at Mt. Bachelor, which appears to be lacking its winter coat.

So was I; it was a windy 52 degrees up there, and I was in a t-shirt.

When a rider jumps off the front, it's a breakaway or attack. When the main group catches the break, the officials say, 'gruppo compacto.'

It's nice to learn another language.

On the 5 mile climb to the finish, there are two riders left. One is in the polka dot jersey, given to the rider who is the best overall climber so far. I'm thinking she's going to blow the doors off the other woman.

Nope, she hangs out. Riders call this 'wheel sucking,' letting someone else do all the work. The other woman motions for Polka Dot to take the lead, but it doesn't happen.

Maybe PD is wasted and just hanging on. The other rider looks tired, too. It'll be a crapshoot in the sprint.

Except it's not. PD jumps gears and takes off, winning the stage easily. The poor girl in 2nd had nothing left.

I mentioned to my official that this was beyond rude. Sit back, let someone else do all the work, then steal it. Mr. Official chuckled and said, "Yeah, the loser brought a knife to a gun fight."

Think Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones looks exhausted (Harrison Ford actually had the flu), and an Arab ninja with a big sword is about to cut our man into pieces. Indy pulls out his revolver and drops the schmuck without delay.

Such is the world of pro cycling.

Being a driver with much responsibility, I get passes into the gated VIP area for the weekend's criterium downtown. Good food, good drinks.

Then there is this thing.

It's a Cycle Pub, even though it looks like something out of Willy Wonka. 6-8 people sit down and pedal, while one person steers and pours drinks. Nice idea.

Spanky and I hung out for a while, then headed home. 

It's been a long week.

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