I’ve been just too exhausted and sleep-deprived to update in two days. Haven’t been eating, haven’t been sleeping, haven’t been properly hydrating, too bleary-eyed to see normally.
I did manage to squeeze in a brief visit with my two über-cool nephews, Christo and Tyler, in Santa Barbara after the Solvang TT. Great kids, honest and hard-working, great students, doing cool stuff all the time. Christo has a well-paying job while he studies for his PhD in Computer Science, but Tyler is still a starving undergraduate, so after dinner I stopped at an ATM, punched up some dough, and stuffed a big wad of cash into Tyler’s hand. What else are uncles for? When I was in college, I was pretty broke and had to hold down part-time jobs for walking-around money, and I remember those times vividly, so tightening up Ty with a few bucks probably gives me as many jollies as it does him to receive it and spend it.
Yesterday’s stage Santa Clarita -> Pasadena was phenomenal. The crowds were like the Tour de France, massive gobs of people crammed into every available roadside space, cheering madly. The LiveStrong Foundation has asked people to not paint on the roads for environmental reasons, so they’ve been giving out yellow chalk. The roads were almost solid graffiti, and I’m not sure the chalk is that great an idea either, because after the vehicles roll through and the peloton rolls through, there is a yellow haze in the air so thick that it affects the television pictures. THAT can’t be good either, not for the fans at the roadside and certainly not for the athletes.
The Pasadena finish at The Rose Bowl was great for the RADAR, as the group took 5 laps around the Rose Bowl. Producer keyed the RADAR graphic the last 4 laps, and it had good production value because you could see that the breakaway was really tooling at 38, whilst the peloton (with Astana 4-abreast on the front, protecting Levi) was just sort of loafing along at 34. The highest GC rider off the front was Hincapie, and he’s +6 minutes, so as long as Astana kept things reasonable, they had nothing to worry about.
Unfortunately, the entire GPS system shit the bed about halfway through the stage. For some reason the 3G guys can’t figure out, the whole link just fucked right off (eh?) slightly before the final mtn summit, and never came back. Producer was pissed off, but, hey, we’re walking the high wire here with unknown, unproven solutions we threw together and pulled out of our asses a few weeks before the event because no budgets were approved. I’m personally more than satisfied with what we got working and with the decent but unspectacular up-time. I’m downright floored. If producer wants a bomb-proof solution, then great, but give me, AllanP, and the RF guys a year of development and a testing budget if you don’t want a Sword of Damocles hanging over your head.
Here’s a photo of the room key collection I’ve amassed during the Tour. Unfortunately, I lost one or two. There should be ten I think, not eight. I think I also lost my digital camera, so I had to take the photo with my phone, hence the suckiness of the photo itself.
Last night I drove down to Rancho Bernardo from The Rose Bowl, stopping on the way to grab a cup of hot tea, which was my dinner. Arrived at the Hilton and broke out a bottle of wine Christo had given me, a nice Syrah from Summerland Winery, where his friend works. I didn’t have a corkscrew, so I asked the young cutie at the front desk if she had one. She said “you have to promise to bring it back, because we only have one”. I promised and gave her the Boy Scout’s Pledge Salute. Went up to the room, popped the cork, walked back to the front desk, handed Cute Young Desk Chick back her corkscrew with a fiver as a tip for saving me the trouble of running out to a 7-11 to buy a corkscrew (hotel doesn’t have a restaurant) and saving me the stink-eye of asking the bartender in the hotel bar if I could borrow his. She saw the tip and said “you want that in quarters?”. I said “no, I don’t need change, that’s a tip for you for lending me your corkscrew”. Cute Young Desk Chick went all blank. She was absolutely dumbfounded. I guess front desk staff at Hiltons don’t get too many tips.
One thing I’ve found is good therapy when I’m tired or grumpy or pissed off is to make somebody else’s day. It’s so easy and so cheap, and my day already sucks…and the best defense is a good offense. In Clovis, I went to this funky old cowboy diner for breakfast and my waitress (named Rhonda), who’d clearly seen some tough miles and needed some dental work, smiled at me and was genuinely really nice, so I left her a $10 tip on an $8 check. Made my day, and I think it probably made hers too, unless she thought I’d made a mistake rather than having done it intentionally.
Went back up to the room and all of a sudden felt absolutely awful. Seeing stars. Staggered into my room, vomited solidly (made the toilet), fell asleep on top of the bed in my clothes (shoes still on), woke up 7 hours later, still fully clothed.
Good thing today is the finale.