Hectic morning

Caravan - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

I worried about covering today's stage as the course didn't really allow someone in a car to cover more than one spot out on course. I tried for a moto, but clearly everyone else can read the technical manual and came to the same conclusion. It didn't help that this was the first good day of weather.

About an hour before the stage start I decided it would be a good day to try for a team car. I made the call and, lo and behold, I had a ride in the Fly V Australia car. We were the last car in the second caravan, which wasn't ideal placement, but very entertaining Nathan O'Neill was riding shotgun and there were some hot Parlees on the roof to make up for it.

All was set, but I had to go and screw everything up. My camera slipped off my shoulder while I was getting some last-minute bike and rider shots. My 580EX II flash was down for the count. Mario from Vero came by and needed to get his camera body back. Then the team cars were lining up and I was nowhere to be found.

I managed to sprint to the car and we immediately pulled out into the caravan. Only then did I think to ask Mario to drive my car to the finish line. But the car was already part of the moving race caravan. Mario was standing in the crowds somewhere taking photos. We were doing some neutral laps so I called him and frantically explained what I wanted him to do:

He was going to drive my car to the finish line... and I was going to throw my car key out the window at him.

It was a great plan. But I couldn't spot him when we did the first circuit.

No matter. Nathan O'Neill took my key and as we passed across the starting gate he handed it to one of the officials, Jason. Jason gave that look of astonishment that you might naturally have if Nathan O'Neill leans out of a moving car and hands you the key to a BMW. I watched him raise the car key towards the stage like a Cracker Jack prize. What was done was done, so all that was left to do was scream to Mario, "Find Jason!"

The rest of the day was much less eventful for me, though much more eventful for the riders. I saw Freire, Kirchen and Nydam on the side of the road, badly injured. I saw numerous riders retire for the day, unable to handle the brutal season opener. I watched the Fly V guys help out Jelly Belly's Bernard van Ulden when the refs for some reason weren't letting him get his spare bike. van Ulden still had to ride to the finish on a tiny bike with blood streaming down his leg.

I saw Fly V's Curtis Gunn fight valiantly to get back into the pack after being dropped off the back. He drifted all the way back to the broom wagon before fighting his way solo up and down a freezing, snow-covered KOM. He finally managed to reattach just before the finish. I'll try to remember his ride next time I get dropped.

Harden the F#$@ Up.

related articles: Tour of California Tour of California 2009
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Comments (2)

Hi your photography is really very nice
but why dont u post your pictures in a higher resolution
these pictures looks very tiny

from INDIA.

Ken, I LOVE your personal acccounts like this. Your photos are pretty good, too :-) Keep up the great work.

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