Sometimes my job doesn’t suck! This week was one of those times.
I was out at the new RadioShack cycling teams first camp in Tucson. If you are a cycling fan you know that this might be the strongest cycling team that has ever been built. It is all built with the singular focus of dominating the Tour de France the summer, and placing everyone’s hero, (Lance Armstrong) on the top of the box again. If you are not a cycling fan, you should be and you better become one because this summer is going to be epic. If you cannot become one today, I am sorry but you will just have to gut it out through this blog post.
Reason #1 that my job doesn’t suck.
On Wednesday when I arrived I went straight to the F1 meeting. The F1 group is the name for the group of people and companies that have come together to help the team achieve its goal. As I was late arriving, the only seat left was between Johan Bruyneel (the all time greatest cycling coach with 9 TDF wins to his credit) our man Ben Coates (full time Liaison for Trek to the team) and just to Johan’s right was Bart Knaggs (President of the company that owns the team) and Allen Lim (one of the most highly regarded sports performance gurus for any sport). I was so out of my league.
I do not profess to be any kind of expert, like the other people in the room. I was in awe.
Reason #2 that my job doesn’t suck.
On Wednesday evening, Ben and I personally got to show the new RadioShack team bike to Lance. He was the first person to see it in real life, outside of Trek employees.
Reason #3 that my job doesn’t suck.
A team like RadioShack has an impressive budget. I am talking Formula One team budgets or GP motorcycle racing budgets. As a result of that budget they have the best of everything. The best of performance efforts, the best of food and the best of hotels. Here are some shots of where we stayed with the team this week.
Reason #4 that my job doesn’t suck.
Eldon “Fat Cyclist” (fatcyclist.com) raised a ton of money this week for Livestrong and World Bicycle Relief and we get to help him give away a couple of bikes as a result. Follow the link and read the whole story, it is about 6-8 blog entries. He is a great guy and a super funny writer. We got to give away the bikes that he talks about in the story. He also has a surprise waiting for him for when he gets there. Ben and I got to put that in motion while we were there at team camp.
Reason #5 that my job doesn’t suck.
On Thursday I got to go for a 2.5 hour ride with the RadioShack team. The link contains photos and the story at Velonews. I spent more than 30 minutes riding next to Lance (no I did not knock him down, and yes I was very nervous that I might). He and I talked the entire time. And, it wasn’t me doing all the talking. I wanted to ask him about the goings on in the bus with Alberto last year, but didn’t. We did talk about bikes, politics, the TDF this coming season, his chances and a bunch of things. Wow.
Reason #6 that my job doesn’t suck.
I also got to talk to Chris Horner for a bunch of time during the road ride. He is a hoot. We talked about cars, and about how many bikes he has in his garage for him and his kids and his wife. He gets a kick out of being the mechanic for all the kids in the neighborhood that he lives in.
So we were talking as we were going up a longer climb. It was a good pace, I could talk and not breathe too hard. I was trying not to give it away that I was going at a good clip. After about 3 minutes of talking back and forth, I finally looked to Chris’s right, and he has his hand on another sponsors back pushing him up the hill. The whole time we have been climbing, he has been just yacking away with me and still pushing someone else up the hill.
I hate it when that happens to me.
Reason#7 that my job doesn’t suck.
Thursday evening was the sponsor dinner. It was a big banquet room with assigned seating. There were big round tables. Outside the room, you found your name tag and it told you which table to sit at. I was at table ten, sort of in the middle of the room. Seated to my left was Axel Merckx (Eddie Merckx son, ex racer and coach of Trek/Livestrong) and to his left were Justin Williams (sprinting hope for the Trek/Livestrong team) and then Taylor Phinney (Son of Davis and Connie Phinney and current pursuit junior world champion).
During dinner, Axel was telling racing stories while Justin and Taylor made fun of him. Axel told stories of rooming with Mark Cavendish on Tmobile and a bunch of other racing stories. He told the story of Mark Cavendish first year as a pro racer, being told that his numbers would never allow him to be more than a pack filler racer. Axel told the story of his first classic win and Cavendish immediately calling the trainer that had told him that and asking “how do you like my numbers now?”
Taylor is crazy. He never stops talking. He makes fun of Lance on stage. He laughs at the music selected for the rider presentation and basically keeps everyone around him in stitches. Ben once called me after Taylor made him play 4 hours of video games with him. And of course since Taylor was 19 at the time he just destroyed Ben for 4 hours straight.
Reason #8 that my job doesn’t suck.
This week Ben and I got to work closely with Lance this week to develop the plan for the bikes that he will ride this year. We are going to kick of something really special in a month or so. I know that you have probably seen the RadioShack team bike by now. If you have not, here is a link to the gallery of photos on Trek’s facebook page. The team will start racing these babies’s in Australia in a few weeks. But, there is another plan for bikes for Lance. And that plan is big – really big.
Reason #9 that my job doesn’t suck.
The RadioShack team hotel had the best oatmeal known to mankind. Oh yeah.
Reason #10 that my job doesn’t suck.
I got paid to do all of this, this past week.
At the end of the presentation of the team riders, Lance had the microphone and this is his quote. “I don’t know where you will be in July, but I would recommend being in front of a television – it is going to be epic!” I think he is right. The Tour de France is going to be the best race we have ever seen in our lifetime.
I know where I will be.
Out – Joe.