Kickoff. Another event. Tour of California.
This should be interesting. I’ve never done a stage race before. I declined
the Tour de France in 99, when MatSport started using my TTWare product, because I despise France, I hate French people and I just didn’t want to
deal with Frogs. The Tour of Calif is produced by an American company
(Medalist Sports) and obviously it’s in the US, so I’ll give it a try.
Versus Network, formerly OLN, is televising. That’s a problem because they
haven’t hosted a race since they changed their name, so their artwork and
Style Guide is half-baked. John Carter, the guy who has produced all of
OLN’s TdF coverage, is producing here. After a million e-mails, I finally
met him today. He seems like a pretty cool guy for a sports producer.
Pretty much every other producer I’ve ever met falls in between “dick” and
“unbelievable dick”. We’ll see what I think after a week. He’s from
Colorado, not NY, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.
Two minutes after I checked in at the TdC office, Medalist Sports Prez Jim
Birrell hooked me up with a guy named Joelle Felicio from Versus, to start working on getting my timing graphics shells tailored to the Versus “look”. Joelle was in the hotel restaurant having lunch with Paul Sherwin and Bob Roll. I joined them for a few minutes. Bob Roll looks about 30 years older in person than he does on TV. He looks like he’s 65. And he’s nothing like his “charmingly cracked pundit” TV personna. He seems like a real asshole. I mean John McEnroe-league asshole. Sherwin, on the other hand, is a soft-spoken gentleman who introduces himself to strangers with a handshake and a smile. He had just flown in from his home in Uganda (!!!!), so he was feeling pretty rough.
I spent all afternoon coding frantically while on the phone and internet
with 3 people back at the Versus graphics department in Connecticut. I
didn’t eat or drink anything between 6 AM and 6 PM, but I’m starting to
make some progress. My timing graphics are starting to look like Versus
I just went and checked myself into the first of 8 hotels I’ll be staying
at in during the next 10 nights. I’m not sure how this is going to work. I’ll
either love the challenge or I’ll hate the hassles. Probably both, to the extreme.
It looks like this event, despite being perhaps the best-organized and
best-financed stage race in the world, may be on a par with the US Open in
terms of sheer chaos. That’s my first impression.
The teams were rolling in today in their fancy rolling palaces and support vehicles. I had no place to work (nobody does), so a friend let me set up all my TV broadcast CG gear in his motor home with a generator out in the parking lot of the official hotel, the Crowne Plaza in Burlingame. The motor home was parked next to the Toyota United motor home, which looks like perhaps they bought it from some rock star, and the Health Net team support truck, which has perhaps a half million bucks worth of gear inside. Ten pairs of carbon wheels stacked up against the curb, perhaps 50 carbon frames, all sorts of bike geek happy horseshit.
All the stars are here, I saw them wandering around. Bettini, Hincapie,
Horner, Zabriskie. I ‘ve been too busy to really check out the scene or to
take any pictures. Maybe after Sunday’s Prologue things will settle down to
the point where I can absorb any of this.
Funny though, almost all the support people – the truck drivers, mechanics, PR people – have shaved legs. Not me. I don’t even shave my legs when I’m racing, and I don’t walk around the US Open carrying a racket, either.
Frankly, the prospect of setting up 8 TV compounds in 8 days in 8 cities is
absurd. Pretty much every event in every sport sucks for the first few
days, until things settle down. The problem with a stage race is that
things never settle down. EVERY day is setup day. EVERY day is breakdown day. It’s insane. EVERY DAY you’re in a new hotel room.
We’ll see how it goes. Even if it sucks and I hate it, I needed to do one
of these at least once before my days are done. I owe it to The Fred to give this a try since I blew him off for the Tour de France.