Posted by: canthold | February 20, 2006

Tour of California: Up Close in Olema

I watched to blur of the peloton* wiz past me today. I don’t think anyone in the peloton actually wizzed at me or on me, but they did wiz by. My husband and I took our kids to see the Tour of California bicycle race as they passed quickly through the town of Olema.

We waited for about 45-minutes to an hour and they were gone in 30-seconds. As brief as it was, it was very exciting for all of us. First of all, we were a part of history. This is the inaugural year for the 600 mile bicycle race. If we see an annual tradition take off, we can always say that we were at the very first one.

Second of all, there is a distinct amount of energy that the peloton brings. The race was preceeded by numerous motorcycle cops, photographers, support vehicles, squad cars (why are they called that?) and other official looking motorcycles with no apparent purpose but to go fast in front of the pack. When the group of cyclists appeared, the speed and volume of them was very intense and the swoosh was intoxicating. They even looked at us as they went by – at least the team at the lead.

They were followed by more of the same vehicles, most notibly a man with a yellow jacket on a motorcycle who pointed at my oldest daughter, in her pink princess nightgown, and honked. And the two men on another motorcycle who threw a bag of yellow caffinated Jelly Bellies at her. The Jelly Bellies were well received by a very flattered four-year-old, whose mom (me) wondered if the “tosser” had children of his own, or why would he give caffinated candy to a child? It seems off the mark, but I’ll take it as the thought that counts.

And I could swear that some of the photographers pointed their cameras at our family. If I had thought there was a possibility that we’d be in the paper or on tv, I would have dressed with a little more thought. It’s amazing what I’ll go out of the house wearing these days. It’s a good thing I’m not a celebrity, the paparazzi would have a field-day with me.

The best part of the Tour for me was that it got us out of the house as a family. We had lunch by the creek behind the Olema deli, then headed over to the beach at Bo-town. We looked for shells and buried our kids up to their necks in the sand. Yes, it was absolutely freezing, but they enjoyed the silly experience much more than they complained of the chill. It was a wonderful day, brought to us, in part, by the peloton.

* In case you’re not a cycling fan and the term peloton is lost on you, they’re the main group of cyclists that stay together during the race. When the first person in the peloton finishes, his time is recorded for all members of the group. Sometimes a cyclist will break away and ride away from the pack and is therefore not a member of the peloton any longer. There were two break away riders at our stage in the Tour.

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