Thursday, June 15, 2006

NVGP Interloper

[photo caption] Local racing legend Jay "Hollywood" Henderson tries his hand at what the Nature Valley Grand Prix should call the "Prologue". (photo courtesy SkinnySki.com)

So I snuck into the staging area for Stage 1 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix yesterday.

After meeting up with a friend at City Hall, I scooted on down to Shepard Road to check out the preparations for the individual time trial. A friend is working as a local manager for one of the teams this week and I was going to drop by to say "Hey". But I was also being nosey.

Now, the trick to getting behind the scenes to any local event is a) to know the names of some of the principles involved (even if you don't know them personally -- just do a little research), and b) to ride a moped. Honestly, cops seem to think that you must be running official last minute errands if you're trying to access a restricted area while on a moped. Works every time.

After getting past security, I checked out all of the fancy road and time-trial bikes, wheels, and team cars. Well, the only pro-looking team car around was the Jelly Belly bus, but that was a mens team and they were parked down the block. I found the team my friend was working for and chatted with them for a while.

As I left, I ran into two riders from another team who looked totally lost. When I asked if they were looking for a place to warm up, one replied, "No. Is there a service station around?" in a really wicked Aussie accent.

Turns out that they weren't Aussies but Kiwis (New Zealanders to the uninitiated) riding for the Jazz Apple team. Anyway, I got them to a service station where they were apparently looking for Cokes and whatnot.

Here's the real epiphany, however: these pro/elite women are intelligent as all get-out. Between the two teams that I interacted with, there was a lawyer, a med school student, a grad school student, a Rhodes scholar, and an Olympic gold medalist.

Ok, it doesn't take any brains to be an Olympic gold medalist, but I'd rather have that gold medal than an M.A.

Teammate Fil later reminded me that this isn't really news, as cycling tends to be somewhat of an elitist sport, and if a good education provides you with the resources to race bicycles, well, it all fits together a bit more.

It makes me wonder how Fil got into this sport.


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