Note: While Fatty is cycling away in France with Andy FREAKING Hampsten, Paul Guyot is guest blogging.
Cyclists are some of the coolest people left on this earth. We all know that. In fact, let me pause here while you all give yourselves a pat on the back. Go ahead. I’ll wait…
Okay, great. We know we’re nifty folk. But I want to share an experience with you dear house guests of Fatty, that will reveal why PRO cyclists are the coolest of the cool. Though, I’m not sure about the one dude who hit the other dude with the wheel last year.
By the way, why is houseguest one word, but house guests is two? And since we’re on this train, why do people spell “yea” Y-A-Y? It’s not like it’s saving you any time. Still three letters to write or type. In fact, the E and A are closer together on the keyboard than the A and Y – thus, spelling it the proper way will actually save you precious nanoseconds over time.
But I digress.
Leipheimer, King, Horner, Busche, and the others have been my son’s favorite cycling team for a while. He rides a Trek because RadioShack rides Trek. He treasures his Tour Of California t-shirt that was signed by every member of the squad. (Note: THAT amazing feat would not have been possible without Fatty and the great folks he knows at TRS)
That all changed on Tuesday when – by helping out BIKE MS and the National MS Society – I was able to secure a spot for myself and my son among the 100 VIP’s who got to meet, hang out with, Q&A with, and ride with members of the Garmin-Cervelo pro cycling team.
Perhaps you’ve heard of them? They won a little bimble know as Pairs-Roubaix, had a truly amazing Tour de France, won just about every team competition out there, and are crushing it in Spain as we type. Oh, they also had 2 of the top 4 finishers at the Tour of Colorado, er… excuse me, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge last week.
My son, who takes his support of pro cycling teams very seriously, was extremely excited when I told him he’d be meeting and riding 20 miles with the boys of Garmin-Cervelo. Here is a direct quote:
“Oh my gosh, dad, they are my second favorite cycling team. I love them! God of Thunder, Ryder Hesjedal, Christian Vande Velde, Tyler Farrar, Captain America, Peter Ste… Ste… that one Peter guy who rode the Giro, and my favorite one of all, Tommy D.!”
I then informed him that Tyler was in Spain (which he knew) and that Thor would not be in KC, but that he was leaving Garmin for BMC next year anyway. Another direct quote: “Why? He did so good with Garmin, why go to a team that already has a guy like him?”
This is when daddy replied with: “I’m not sure BMC has anyone like Thor.“
My 8-year-old son corrects me: “Yeah, they do. They got that one guy from Omega… Farm Whatever who is so good in the Classics and on sort of half-sprinty, half-climby stages just like God of Thunder.”
This is when daddy goes to the Internet and finds BMC has signed Phillippe Gilbert – the half-sprinty half-climby guy. Desperate to keep the Daddy-knows-more-than-son tip alive, I fire back with a “Yeah, well, looks like they signed Thor first, then Gilbert.“
To which, without missing a beat, my son says, “Well, that just doesn’t make sense. Those guys both did basically the exact same thing in the Tour de France.”
“Okay, fine, whatever. Bottom line is we won’t be meeting God of Thunder.”
“I don’t want to meet him now if he’s leaving Garmin-Cervelo. They’re my second favorite team.”
And with that we are off on our four-hour drive to meet and ride with the boys of Garmin-Cervelo. My son’s second favorite cycling team.
We arrive an hour and a half early because… my son is 8-years-old. But just as I am thinking up creative ways to kill time, my son sees the team approaching, sporting jeans, Polos and non-cycling sunglasses. Christian Vande Velde engages my son, they have a brief exchange, and then I say, “Jack, do you know who you’re talking to?” My son looks between me and Christian with knitted brow. I tell him it’s Christian Vande Velde and, right there on the steps of the Garmin International headquarters, we all witness an actual human mind being blown.
How many times have we all heard some version of It’ll blow your mind? Let me just say that, until you actually see it, you cannot imagine the sheer force and beauty of it.
Over the next hour, before this event has even officially started, the Garmin-Cervelo riders are not hiding out in their bus, they are not huddled in a corner making inside-jokes to each other while trying to avoid eye contact with any non-Garmin types. No.
They are sitting around with my little boy engaging him in all sorts of conversations. Daniel Lloyd is showing him video of his son on a bike; Ryder Hesjedal is discussing how to become a better descender – “Practice. And keep pushing the limit.” “What’s that mean?” “You gotta crash a few times.“; Even Director-Sportif Jonathan Vaughters is talking to Jack like he’s one of the team.
- Vande Velde blowing his mind.
- Vaughters telling my son the Garmin junior race program starts at age 12, but that Jack could give him a call at age 9.
- My son asking Captain America Dave Zabriskie if he’d think up a cool nickname for him. Without missing a beat DZ says “How about Bucky?“
- My son asking Vaughters if he was going to be driving behind the day’s group ride with a radio yelling “Come on, come on, come on.”
- During the Q&A Tommy Danielson telling us that during the big sprint finishes on stages, he hits about 495-500 watts… for 95th place.
- Moments before we rolled off with a hundred others for the ride – the look on my son’s face as he said, “I’m about to ride with Garmin-Cervelo.“
- A dropped chain and subsequent red light caused us to lose touch with the peloton, and since we were in unfamiliar territory daddy had no idea which way to go, and thus, made the extremely unpopular decision of abandoning the ride. Tears were shed, complaints were lodged, and then, as we grew closer to the Garmin building and the start/finish line, a pack of about 25 riders on the return loop of the ride, rolled up on us being led by Tommy Danielson. They got stopped at a red light, and Tommy D cruised back to where we were, asked Jack how it was going, and picking up on my son’s less than enthusiastic response, asked Jack: “Hey, dude, will you ride in with me?”
- The complete physiological change that took place in my son after Tommy D. asked if he’d ride in with him.
- Watching from behind as my son rode in, chatting with Tommy Danielson – his favorite Garmin rider – because Tommy D. asked Jack to ride in with him.
- Tommy D. Tweeting a photo of himself and Jack after the ride.
- My son asking Tommy D. where he could buy the kind of water bottle Tommy D. had on his bike, and Tommy saying “Right here” and giving Jack his water bottle.
- How each rider and the Director treated my son with respect, interest and genuine pleasure despite the fact they were all probably completely exhausted and wanted nothing more than to get this glad-handing over with and get home.
As we pulled out of the GARMIN parking lot and headed back home my son was looking over his autographed photos, signed jersey, water bottle, and new Garmin-Cervelo t-shirt and cycling cap. He paused a moment and said, “Dad, there’s a problem… I don’t think RadioShack is my favorite team anymore. Wait, maybe it’s a tie for first… no, it’s not. Garmin-Cervelo is my new favorite team. RadioShack is second.“
I told him that was okay, but he was not convinced. “I don’t think Levi will care if they’re my second favorite now, but I bet Chris Horner would be mad.”
I told him that Garmin just got lucky and got to spend time with him, and that if RadioShack did the same they’d probably be back at number one. His reply: “Do you think I could meet RadioShack? They do train by Uncle Jay’s house, right?” (Note: Uncle Jay lives in Tucson, AZ)
Before I can answer he adds: “Actually, I don’t think so dad. I’m kind of friends with all these guys now. So even if I become friends with RadioShack, I was friends with Garmin first. Besides, JV said I could join their junior team early, and Tommy D wanted me to ride with him, and I have this weird feeling that Levi or Chris Horner might try to drop me on Mount Lemmon if they know I like Garmin.”
A HUGE THANK YOU TO: Christian Vande Velde, Peter Stetina, Tom Petersen, Danny Summerhill, Dave Zabriskie, Daniel Lloyd, Ryder Hesjedal, Tommy Danielson, and Jonathan Vaughters. And very special thanks to Jake Jacobson of Garmin International who did an amazing job.