Well, that took all of a month. @suunto @suuntousa #brokenpin (at SufferCottage)

Road bong graffiti. Because Colorado. 

womenscycling:

Fun fact: Norway also has a law requiring 40% of the boards of publicly traded corporations to be women. 

Neutralization feelings.
(from Getty Images, via the TourTracker time-fill slideshow) Neutralization feelings.
(from Getty Images, via the TourTracker time-fill slideshow)

Neutralization feelings.

(from Getty Images, via the TourTracker time-fill slideshow)

It’s chilly and overcast in Aspen, and wonderfully deserted—except, of course, for the coffee shop around the corner from the start. Peach’s Corner Cafe is already at line-out-the-door status, and the assembled clientele seem unlikely to correct that. Though to be fair, expecting a non-native speaker to comprehensibly replicate the faux-French American English pronunciation of “croissant” in such an acoustically chaotic environment is an awfully big ask.

 I’m pimped on the doorway hole-shot by an overbuilt, three-wheeled stroller whose pilots make me think the Madewell and J Crew catalogue wrap parties must have gone long last night. I reach for my phone (“I’m racist against strollers”) but the bleary-eyed couple pit-crews it almost immediately, mom popping the buckles and pushing the stroller to an empty space at end of the counter, dad hoisting the squirming pink larvae to his hip before it has a chance to do something stupid with its newfound freedom. I suppose it easy to be cynical about these things.

 The coffee is weak, and the breakfast bagel sandwich not made with love, but the service is fast, and on four hours of sleep (watching the livestream of a Vice News crew in Ferguson have more trouble with media credentials than I did was surprisingly compelling) I can’t complain. I’m sitting out on the terrace, ‘gramming LOLs from the local dead-tree tinhorns, eavesdropping on the table next to me.

I suspect they must be Very Important—the Pro Challenge is certainly front-and-center in their conversation, though only as a disordered melange of fundraising rides, celeb glad-handing, and dinner events. One has strongly positive feelings on Bob Roll. Another will be replacing several athletes’ Road Ids before the start.

I’m there early today—the media “Start Tent”, a Republican National Convention “free speech zone” for the Pro Challenge’s whale-shit media pass holders, hasn’t even been set up yet. That’s fine, though—a few raindrops have kept the crowds down, and it’s easy to stroll the team cars—though the riders themselves seem understandably reluctant about stepping out into the weather a moment before they have do.

“Holy cow—is that Cosmo Catalano?”

Except Cannondale’s Ted King, who’s leaning against the squad’s Lexus SUVs, one of several Gentleman’s Rentals from the title sponsor.

He’s kitted up in arm warmers and what has to be a Euro-small vest, still rail-thin from the Tour. The collar is fully zipped, which has the unintended effect of making his head appear just slightly too large, something Jim Henson would have caricatured had he ever come across the need for an ultra-fit, watts-cranking Muppet.

“The best cycling commentary, hands down.” he continued. 

“You flatter me, sir”. 

“Not flattery. I just speak the truth. “ 

Cyclingnews’ Laura Weislo is in earshot, talking with King’s former teammate Timmy Duggan, a Colorado native, newly-minted Cannondale brand embassador, and event VIP. I’m hoping she’s hearing this, but they’re in focused conversation on today’s stage and the looming weather.

“Yeah, I’m hoping that’ll make today easier for me” Duggan said in his understated Rocky Mountain rasp. “It’s hard not to be racing, but if it rains”—casting a look in King’s direction—”I’ll be following along in a nice car, warm and dry…” 

“C’mon, it’s Colorado. It only ever rains for 15 minutes at a time here, right?”

I nod at the sentiment—it’s certainly my impression as a recent New England transplant, but Timmy and Laura exchange a glance that suggests otherwise.

The weather isn’t the only thing keeping the crowds down. Today’s stage finish is in Crested Butte—some media and pretty much all television production had driven out there the night before. It’s a trip I will not be making. After today’s start, I’m heading back to Fort Collins to await the Boulder-Denver stage on the final day. My budget for vanity journalism only reaches so far, especially while my current IRL revenue hovers around zero.

 The upside of a start-only appearance on a point-to-point day is that, in terms of getting access to the race, the low-level media pass is much more useful—no fan mob, no overzealous security to evade, and a reasonably good view from the Start Tent. Plus, there’s a pretty decent spread of food and beverages, which hasn’t escaped the notice of the riders, some of whom have hopped the fence after sign-in to grab a quick bite.

Staging and call-ups are largely—no, completely—ceremonial. King and Optum’s Jesse Anthony sit next to me in folding chairs and nibble bagels while Dave Towle’s proclamations of whose dreams came true yesterday resonate off the courthouse’s Victorian brickwork, this winter colony still largely empty, even at 11am.

As the final countdown enters its closing seconds—they go from several minutes out—the two riders climb back out to their waiting bikes, and join 20 or 30 others who’ve massed about 100ft ahead of the official start line, ready to do actual work in the early going. After two neutral laps, the race is gone, heading down the valley to Carbondale, where coincidentally, Cyclocosm was founded, just under a decade ago.

I’ll leave you with what I can recall of the lost bits from my conversation with Mike Creed. We were wrapping up on the topic of Creed’s approach to directing—very hands-on, setting and reinforcing goals for each individual rider—and whether or not that reflected what he himself had missed as an athlete. Mike agreed, and elaborated (exact quotes obviously not preserved) with a story:

Back when I was riding, there was this rider, and I mean, he is just killing it with hustle. Not a huge talent, but definitely making things happen, riding with pure piss and vinegar. He made it to a WorldTour Tour team, and I can remember telling him, “you know, man—you can’t ever get complacent. Like, it’s great that you’re here, and you’re killing it, but the moment that you get comfortable, it’s over. You’re done.”

And I think that’s a lot of what makes success, kinda regardless of where you are in terms of talent or level of the sport. Like, it’s not even laziness—it’s human nature. You’re going to try to get comfortable. And as soon as you do, you lose that edge. It’s all about finding what’s going to give you that drive and that hustle to keep coming at it like you did when it was new. That’s what gets you the results.

That’s it for now. Another dispatch on Monday.

Cyclocosm was founded in this very burrito shop, in this very chair, over this very burrito, back in May 2005. So of course, the site is down. (at DOS)

Taking ‘er down. #prochallenge (at Downtown Carbondale)

Relaxed start today. #jensupdate #prochallenge (at Aspen, Colorado)

Some inter generational advice here, no doubt. #prochallenge (at Aspen, Colorado)

"Unauthorized personnel in the media tent!"

"Where?"

#prochallenge (at Aspen, Colorado)