It doesn't end there. I was leading some training today - boring work stuff - and somebody who inhabits my professional world - which is usually pretty distinct from my life on the bike and this blog - came up to me during a break and said nice things. Holy cow, was that unexpected. Cool, but unexpected.
Life doesn't get much better than this. Last night I was watching the Giro d'Italia on NBC's Universal Sports. Jens Voigt was in a breakaway with 5 minutes on the chase, and two helpers. Andy Hampsten was providing a little bit of chat, and the guys doing the voice commentary were doing what they could to be informative and to stay out of the way of the racing. Then they described how you pee off the bike without spraying the remainder of the pack. This is racing and coverage as it should be. Lovely.
Then tonight I watched via DVR as Liquigas (that's pronounced Leaky-Gas, fellas) pushed the pace up the final 25km climb of the day, and rider after rider, including a not-yet-fit Lance were shelled out the back. Horner and Leipheimer had great showings, as Russian hard man Denis Menchov took the stage, with The Killer struggling to hold his wheel in the final uphill sprint. The effort paid off for DiLuca though, and he pulled on the maglia rosa today. I know he's just another petulant and crazy Italian champion, but I like how he rides; the guy gives it maximum effort.
Some observations about the Giro so far:
Soler looks like a chicken humping a basketball when he is riding out of the saddle.
I'd like to play poker with Thomas Voeckler some time. He is incapable of allowing his face to hide his thoughts and feelings.
The broadcast team is really good - they say a lot of informative stuff. They aren't perfect - they could do better explaining the significance of some tactical moves, like how the representation in the break affects the chase, and why sometimes a team on the front is pacemaking, other times it's blocking or protecting a rider by slowing the pace... but otherwise it's a nice change from the somewhat bowdlerized Versus coverage. NBC deserves props for picking up the Giro feed and providing announcers at the last minutes. Kudos, peacock network.
Those Cervelo Test Team kits - solid black - look cool. They will be hotter than the 7th Circle of Hades come summer. I don't envy the guys riding in the Vuelta in those lycra solar panels.
Lance Armstrong is harder than woodpecker lips. He is incapable of saying or doing anything that does not work to his own advantage. I'm not going to pass judgment on him here as a good or bad guy, I will just note that he succeeds at what he sets out to do, whether it's helping cancer patients and researchers, or winning races, because he is smart, and maybe the most relentless competitor I have ever seen in any sport - he even uses interviews to gain competitive advantage, sometimes weeks or months in advance of an event. Though he may have doped, the way he won 7 TdF's was not dope; it was by breaking the will of his opponents (who were also likely on dope, but who's counting?) I don't think he wins the Giro - he'd have to ride himself into serious shape this week and next, and pull out all the stops in the third week - but if he did, I'd just stop criticizing him, ever. It would be the kind of ridiculous feat, like a 30 foot long jump, that earns the athlete a lifetime pass.
If you aren't watching the Giro on NBC Universal Sports, you ought to. It bears the same relationship to racing as high mass in the latin rite bears to a Catholic - the highest form of our most important ritual. It maybe isn't the place racing began, but it's certainly the greatest expression of what it means to race, and the organization of the event, with stages muddled together in seemingly random order, makes the results unpredictable. Every day might bring a new leader. This is how racing should be.