A morning drizzle and a mid-workaday-morning roll-out-time led to scant crowds at the Ocean Beach start of Tuesday's stage of the Tour of California cycling race.
Those who attended got a real taste of bicycle racing, big-time European -style, in which teams of athletes who dress (and weigh) like jockeys arrive in massive, specially equipped and flamboyantly decorated buses; are catered to by armies of mechanics, masseurs, chefs and other minions; and are surrounded by stacks of spare $10,000 bicycles.
We had breakfast at the house of San Francisco architect, cyclist, and shutterbug Dennis Budd, who lives five blocks from the Fulton and Great Highway starting line. We had to leave well before the 11 a.m. start time. But Dennis was kind enough to send along some photos.
Here's a crowd of fans awaiting members of Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer's RadioShack team:
Because bicycle stage races such as the Amgen Tour of California
involve day after day of 100-plus-mile mountainous high-speed races,
athletes seek to conserve as much energy as possible off-bike. So their
movements are so careful-seeming and slow as to seem sloth-like.
Juxtaposed with a typical fan-crowd's anxious jumpiness, mid-morning
pro cyclists can look like brightly dressed, weary pre-school teachers
tolerating a rambunctious class.
Here's the Garmin Transitions team bus of top contender and Tuesday stage winner David
Zabriskie. The bus, however, is emblazoned with an image of team's biggest star, Tyler Farrar. Farrar is racing at the
Giro di Italia, where he won Tuesday's stage, his second such victory so far in the Italian race. With the dual wins the Garmin Transitions team has created a bizarre situation where an American team without Lance Armstrong in its ranks is dominating world bicycle racing.
of his teammate Levi Leipheimer, who hopes to win the Tour of
California a fourth time.
February, Leipheimer's wife, Odessa Gunn, let their four Chihuahuas out
of their Sonoma home for what was supposed to be a brief potty break. A few strange
screeching sounds later, and 6-pound Bandit was gone. The story made
Fox news at TV stations nationwide in a story titled Hungry Owls Target
Small Dogs and Cats for Food in NorCal -- without mentioning that the
nabbed pet belonged to a huge international sports star.