It's time again for Total Sports Coverage! The US Pro Cycling Challenge kicked off today in Aspen, Colorado. New Belgium is the beer sponsor, so we send along a huge crew to huck kegs and set up areas for hanging out, and generally offer up good times to those that have braved it all and come to watch this bicycle race, live, in the flesh. I also get to come along. I Tweet about stuff, and take pictures, and tell the internet all about the goings on with an event of this size and stature. Last year, you may remember, we made videos, lots of them. This year we were looking to try other things, so we grabbed some folks from the internet, loaded them into a van and hit the road. The internet folks tell stories in their own ways. Amy for instance, she cross-stitches and embroideries stuff, you can follow her here. Then we have Roger Lootine to illustrate things. And then, lastly, Stevil Kinevil of AllHailTheBlackMarket.com is riding in the van with us too.
Anyway, we're all in Aspen, we got here last night and the race started today. We got up early, and headed towards the action. Upon arriving to the Start/Finish area there were bikes everywhere, and this is Aspen, let's not kid ourselves, some were very nice. One bike was even wearing matching socks. I annotated the photo, just in case you don't notice the socks.
Upon walking past the sock-footed bicycle I headed over to the starting line to give a hearty cheers to all the riders who have worked so hard to ride this fast, they deserve it.
This was a difficult picture to capture as the riders who worked so hard to go so fast were in fact going pretty fast and that made for a certain blurriness. But either way, I think I got the picture OK and I think raising a can of Fat Tire was a fitting gesture.
Then I saw this guy:
After the initial can of beer and then seeing the Alli-merican not pass out from wearing a ski onesie in the middle of the summer I headed of to beer HQ to see what kind of set up New Belgium is rolling.
Nice, huh? Aspen makes for really nice beer tent backdrops. If you get a chance you should join us out here, the views and beer and partying are great. And the selection is pretty stellar as well.
There pours several beers to make a person forget it's 150º outside, just refreshing.
For some reason there was a guy live painting the event. He saw me sniffing around with my camera (phone) and hid behind the painting to allude my lens (you can kind of see his legs, but he was live painting, a bike race...
Then the day took a whole different turn when I realized the bike race was still happening. Today's stage was a circuit from Aspen to Snowmass and back, and they did that loop three times. There was drama and breakaways and tight shorts and security guards taking photos of the peloton instead of protecting me from whatever they were hired to protect me from. I guess I can't blame the guy, this bike racing stuff is exciting.
The fellow directly in front of me (and behind the camera-toting security guard) was quite liberal in his cow bell usage, and I was fully cool with it. The cow bell, especially of the free, giveaway-type variety, is not a musical instrument. It's a noise maker, and in the excitement of professional racers doing 35 mph on bicycles, making noise is almost impossible not to endorse.
At this point in the day I was hot, tired and ready to sit down.
Unfortunately I was not in the financial position to purchase outdoor furniture with Aspen price-tags (or any price-tags (for that matter)). And then, apparently, these chairs are not to be used anyway. I continued to walk around as I had another hour or so before the racers came through for the last time to finish.
In that time I saw these three things:
The questions that come to mind on the topic of these three photos, in order, are as follows: The Italians make fast bicycles and fast motorcycles and isn't dangerous to use one to carry the other? Then, Aspen, do you paint all of your ambulances like this (because that's awesome and adorable)? And lastly, why isn't that guy wearing a shirt?
Finally, the racers came through for the win, and all the places behind that. A young Slovakian named Peter Sagan won. He's really fast. After his checkered flag I high-tailed it over to the stage in which the awards are given out to get some awesome pics of the award giving. After standing there for a while with no awards going anywhere I was sweating pretty good, and I needed some refreshment. I stupidly walked away for an electrolyte-laced popsicle, thinking I could get back to my spot upon refreshment. That was not the case. In fact a large crowd had gotten larger and I was relegated to the back of said crowd, primed for a lousy photo.
Upon seeing my position for photo taking I was kind of angry, but still refreshed, and a little confused over my decision to walk away at such an important juncture in the day. I think this picture shows the complicated nature of my emotions at the time. The picture also shows the delicious, electrolyte-laced popsicle that was the cause of all my refreshment and disappointment.
And then this happened.
So please, join me this week for the rest of US Pro Cycling Challenge and the Total Sports Coverage of it. And please support my internet friends too (linked above). Total Sports Coverage is going to bring some amazing times, and I hope you can join me on the roads of Colorado. And if you can't make it out, in person, maybe you can join me here, in the re-capped, web-log world of professional bike racing and amateur partying.