Tour of California bound. Twisted Spoke is off to the races.

Cali Bound

In one hour photographer Darrell Parks is picking me up and we’re headed to Sacramento and the launch of the Tour of California. Feels funny to even write those words and know it’s actually happening. I’ve never covered a race as a writer. When I started Twisted Spoke it never occurred to me that in 15 months I’d be covering the biggest bike race in the United States as a paid member of the cycling press.

To be honest I’m nervous, excited but definitely nervous and agitated. Feels like suddenly I’m on the high dive or on stage in front of 10,000 people with some guy handing me a guitar I don’t know how to play. I’ve written many, many things in 20 plus years of advertising, there’s no product I haven’t extolled and I’ve turned out thirty second scripts for stars like Britany Spears, Shaquille o’Neal, Dana Carvey and even the First Lady. But never live commentary on a bike race.

I’ve also written close to 500 posts for my own Twisted Spoke blog. But it’s a whole ‘nother deal, up close and personal and since I’ve never done it, I’m nervous. I have Cycle SPort Magazine expecting a full report on each stage. I know somehow, some way it all comes together and I’m tingling with excitement but yeah, bit of the shaky hand.

We’re excited to see some personal heroes and maybe even chat: Garmin’s Jonathan Vaughters is not only brilliant and stylish but has one of the best senses of humor in the business. In fact, Garmin wins the ProTour humor award hands down, even with the loss of British comedian Bradley Wiggins. Also looking forward to meeting Mr. DZ Nuts himself, Dave Zabriskie. I’ve always appreciated his unique personality.

WHen I read that Bobby Julich plans to be driving one of the Saxo Banks cars, I was also thrilled. I’ve followed his career since he made the podium in the ’98 Tour de France. Always a classy rider, thoughtful, dedicated and professional. It would be nice to shake his hand.

I’ll also highly excited to see Andy Shleck up close. I want to see for myself if this is the guy who can beat the invincible Alberto Contador. I get a kick out of Andy’s cyclingnews blog and he strikes me as an interesting character. I once wrongly assumed that Andy was a well-mannered boy-scout — like Alberto — until Vaughters told me the guy is actually a party animal.

Then there’s the fearsome Fabian Cancellara. I just want to touch the man’s thigh. I gotta see the thighs that dominated Paris Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders and basically did the impossible: make Tom Boonen look slow and lacking in confidence. That said, we’ll also get a full report on Boonen’s thigh.

Of course we have to put the Manxman in there. The temptation to say something wise ass to Cav will be almost unbearable — just to see what he’ll fire back. This is when you wish some Halloween company made an Andre Greipel mask just to show up wearing it for the interviews. What’s the Mastercard line — “priceless.”

Naturally we’re all Shack, all the time. Regular readers of Twisted Spoke know I hold Lance in high regard despite my tendency to poke fun at him. I doubt I’ll get too close but it will be fun just the see the media scrum and I should bring a measuring tape just to see how near I can get before a bodyguard knocks he back. We’re bringing our well-worn It’s Not About The Bike just on the off chance of an autograph.

Leipheimer, Horner, Rubiera, somehow it’s gonna be wild to see them in person. I’m a particular fan of Chechu and feel he’s the most unsung of all the mountain domestiques that helped Armstrong win so many Tours. I can still picture him, jersey unzipped, his face catatonic, brain on auto-pilot, body so far past the last pain barrier and still driving Lance to victory.

And yeah, let’s not forget fashion designer and second most powerful man in cycling (after Lance) Johan Bruyneel. We;ll be wearing one of his Ride baseball caps from the SPring collection. Johan, knows how to win bike races and Vaughters and the Garmin crew better be ready.

Other luminaries? You betcha. Joe Lindsey, who writes the Boulder Report for Bicycling Magazine — and one of the few guys who turn out insightful AND funny stories — will be covering the race. Hope to have a beer with him, maybe two or three. Plus, there’s cycling blogger king FatCyclist — who will be riding in one of the Radio Shack team cars. Fatty or Elden is in the inner circle of the Shack. That’s another guy I’d like to yak with.

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  • joepappillon

    Good luck and have fun!

    Will TS be in hibernation whilst your on-the-road?

    And will Roddy still be calling in updates? Not sure if your ToC date was last-minute, but FFS don’t flick the Hammer!

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com walshworld

      Joe, sitting in the TOC press room soaking up the vibe. Journalists and photographers are nowhere near as fit as bike racers. No, TS will not be in on hiatus. I’ll be doing more of the backstage stuff about covering a bike race for the first time while I crank stuff for Pez and Cycle Sport Magazine. Roddy might return Sunday. He ain’t finished yet.

  • http://www.teamskyfans.com teamskyfans

    glad to hear it, was worried he retired after todays stage.

    Have fun in cali.

  • Johnny Masury

    Yo Matt,
    Did you get a chance to interview Cavendish?