To be honest, I was wondering what the heck I was doing there.
Not that I was complaining, mind you.
As well as a chance to rub elbows with one of the best cyclists of the last decade, one of the few to give a certain disgraced ex-multiple Tour de France winner a run for his money; as a matter of fact, Ivan Basso is now the top finisher — though not officially the winner — of the 2005 Tour.
Not to mention the rider who could be one of the dominant cyclists of this decade. In fact, while Peter Sagan said his goal for this year was winning one or more of the classics, like Milan-San Remo or the Tour of Flanders, Basso said the young pro is capable of winning every race he enters, and he wouldn’t be surprised to see him win the Tour one day.
And he should know. Or almost, anyway.
Although that was something that bothered me a bit. Aside from Baso, the team — which also includes Bicycling magazine columnist Ted King, cycling scion Moreno Moser and rare Japanese pro Nariyuki Masada, who said he was riding to honor his hometown, which was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and tidal wave — seemed a tad too modest.
Maybe I’m just too used to the brashness of American athletes, who seldom seem to downplay their abilities or ambitions.
Take this quote from Willie Mays, who had the skills to back it up:
“If it comes down, I’m going to catch it.”
Like the saying goes, it’s not bragging if you can do it.
I would have liked to have seen more of that confidence from the men on the stage. But maybe their quiet modesty belies bigger goals than they cared to admit.
At the very least, with Basso and Sagan on the team, they’ll always be entertaining. And have a legitimate shot at victory in every stage.
And they’ll ride some very cool bikes.
On the other hand, I found myself surrounded by real reporters from the industry’s top publications — not that I knew who anyone was, since no one had name tags.
But the people with camera lenses longer than my, uh, arm seemed to know what they were doing, while I did my best snapping a few photos with my phone and an ancient first-generation digital camera.
Why they thought the author of this humble blog belonged there with the real professionals is beyond me. And no, I’m not being modest.
But as long as someone wants to invite me hang out with people like that — let alone ply me with free food and beer — I’m there.
And I’ll feel a little personal connection when I see the team roll past at the Amgen Tour of California this year.
Maybe Sagan will even top last year’s success of four stage wins in a row.
And maybe, just maybe, the young riders on this team will help us move past the disgrace and disappointment brought on by other riders this past year.
Speaking of our disgraced former Tour winner, Lance apologizes to the Livestrong staff, without offering a confession. An Aussie paper insists a Lance confession would challenge pro cycling’s credibility, which presupposes it has much to begin with. Reports are Lance confessed to doping after a full decade of denials in a two-and-a-half-hour interview with Oprah, and will agree to testify against those who facilitated it; the Times says he picked the wrong venue to come clean. The Wall Street Journal says the U.S. Justice Department has decided to join a whistleblower suit allegedly filed by Floyd Landis. The NY Post asks why Lance thought he could get away with it when doping has been common in cycling since the ‘80s, but how is he going to make up for what he did to LeMond?
Meanwhile, Italy relaxes its restrictions on formerly banned cyclists, which could allow Cannondale’s Ivan Basso — who refuses to look back at Lance — to compete in the world championships on his home turf.
And retiring world and Olympic champion Nicole Cooke lets dopers have it with both barrels.
The LACBC is looking for volunteers for the Firecracker Ride bike valet and the city’s first Bike Prom next month, as well as the Operation Firefly light distribution program each Wednesday and Thursday.
And in case you missed it, you can still listen to the podcast of LACBC-affiliate chapter Culver City Bicycle Coalition as they host Bike Talk last Saturday, discussing all things bike in Culver City.
Huell Howser explains the history of bicycling in Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, that proposed $3 billion street repair bond is put on hold for now; Flying Pigeon calls it a bad bet. Flying Pigeon’s Josef politely takes the author of Pearls Before Swine to task for an admittedly amusing anti-bike cartoon. The Culver City street where an allegedly drunk, distracted driver injured 13 cyclists has been redesigned to be safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Bike, bus or carpool to grand opening of the new Patagonia store in Santa Monica on Thursday, Jan. 24th and get a free raffle ticket. Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Blvd goes green — and not just the bike lanes. Cycling in the South Bay writes beautifully about last week’s memorial ride for bike shop owner Steve Bowen. Long Beach’s Bixby Knolls host a Kidical Mass Tweed Ride this Sunday. No bias here, as a cyclist in Monrovia is accused of sideswiping the driver’s side of a minivan exiting a freeway; both driver and bike rider claim to have had the green light.
Newport Beach follows a deadly 2012 with a commitment to develop a new bicycle master plan. Actually, a more bikable Hwy 101 in Leucadia is a good thing. Meet a future 2020 BMX Olympian from Poway. The Sacramento Bee asks if changes should be made to CEQA so it can’t be used to stop projects like bike lanes. Why doesn’t anyone make bicycling jeans for women? Ripping a page from the LADOT/Street Services playbook, tiny Manteca bizarrely insists a new crosswalk would make a street more dangerous for pedestrians. Healdsburg CA becomes the latest city to consider an L.A.-style cyclist anti-harassment ordinance.
Katie Compton wins the national cyclocross championship once again, and heads the US roster for the world championships. A new petition asks the feds to charge equally for admission to National Parks whether visitors arrive by car or bike. An Oregon woman leads police on a chase after stealing a car, then tries to make her getaway by bike after they use a spike strip. Portland landlords decide the financial advantages of bikeways outweighs the disadvantages of reducing auto capacity. An Arizona rider documents why cyclists often ride to the left of the line. A writer in my hometown says always call it out when you pass; good advice. Once again, a life is saved because a cyclist could see the crashed car that passing motorists couldn’t. Champaign and Urbana IL work on becoming even more bike-friendly. Four century rides team up to form the new Kentucky Century Challenge. A New York AAA spokesperson says if drivers acted as carelessly as cyclists, there’d be carnage on the streets; unlike now, I suppose. Safe Routes to Schools cuts NYC child injuries over 40%. Now that’s chutzpah — when two Philly bike cops take a break, a thief steals their bikes and tries to make his getaway by bus. Be careful when you carry loose objects on your bike; a DC cyclist is killed when an object he was carrying — which turned out to be a barbeque grill — got caught in his spokes. A rider calls a new Florida bike lane a suicide lane, while another says bikes must be more dangerous than guns. A Florida cyclist is killed by a driver fleeing an unrelated hit-and-run.
A Sault Ste. Marie man is arrested for a) driving a vehicle into a deck, b) damaging a vehicle parked in the driveway, and c) throwing a bike at the garage door; I can forgive him the first two. A UK constable says young riders are “dicing with death” by riding ninja after dark. In a bizarre assault, UK teenagers stretch barbed wire across a roadway, which does little harm to motor vehicles — but could have killed a cyclist, motor or otherwise. Even cyclists in rural Scotland can come this close to getting run over, twice. A Dublin man is awarded 20,000 Euros when he’s hit by a car, despite repeatedly falling off his borrowed bike after “enthusiastically celebrating” St. Patrick’s Day. Evidently, bicycling is so powerful it can transform Thailand into a single bike-friendly city. Instead of making the streets safe for cyclists, Adelaide police crack down on riders violating Australia’s helmet laws. A car full of thugs attempts to knock an Australian woman off her bike. An Aussie study concludes that because more men bike, investing more money in bikeways is sexist — but not as sexist as trying to knock a woman off her bike. A writer says make the death of South African Olympic cyclist Burry Stander matter by improving the country’s infrastructure; a foundation has been founded in his name to do just that, while a tiny-hearted driver says don’t exploit his death if it inconveniences motorists.
Finally, a Virginia columnist can’t comprehend why the state needs a law making dooring illegal, while the state’s House Speaker seems to find it funny. Cleveland cyclists contend with crappy bike lanes — in the most literal sense. And if you think it’s been cold in L.A. lately, you were right.
No, really right.