Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Visiting Vineman

A few weekends ago I drove up to wine country at the ungodly hour sometime before 5am in order to catch the pro wave start at the Vineman 70.3 race with Mr Collins. The goal was to get some triathlon in without racing, to cheer for my friend Rhae Shaw and to get Ben into the product booths to meet some prospective sponsors. We caught the pro swim exit - which was interesting. The bike course starts at the bottom of a small and fairly steep hill. 80% of the age groupers were in the wrong gear as the started to climb the hill and clip into their pedals. I think the pros all nailed it though. We discussed for about an hour about how every single person had to walk down the hill with their bike - so everyone saw the hill yet put their bike into a 53x something. People fell, dropped chains, ran up in bare feet, ran up in bike shoes (one of the most painful sounds to hear is a person slipping up a hill in bike shoes) etc... a circus at the very least.

I saw many of the big names in person for the first time - the others I saw back at Alcatraz in the fall. The only observation is that I have is that they're all very very lean. Michelie Jones is very tall and 'gangly' but fast.

We then grabbed some breakfast and raced over to T2 where we could catch people coming in on the bike and out on the run. A great spot with some pretty interesting course mashalls. One guy we had to teach how to cheer. He would say things like: 'Nice Sneakers', 'Cool Hat', 'You're not even sweating!', and 'Go Pink Lady'. It was fun to see a guy who drove a dune buggy get into it and support people. He had us laughing pretty good as he cheered, spat sunflower seeds and told us how he did donuts all night in his buggy.

Chris Lieto rocked the bike course and was first out on the 13.1 mile. Some 9 mins later Craig Alexander and Luke Bell came in afterwards. Sam McGlone rocked the bike couse and was only a few seconds behind Michelle - it was pretty clear who looked good. We cheered for lots of people - caught my friend Rhae after she had to cheer for us (I kept catching her AFTER she went by). Alexander and McGlone both won their races - both with a killer run. Lieto later confessed that he had run 13 miles once in the past few months. We got to spend some time with Lieto and McGlone - both really cool people. Sam finished her race, saw me take a picture and said 'want to take a picture with me' - she hadn't even gone through the finish chute. She said that outside of a race nobody recognizes her - so it was fun for her to have that sort of attention.

We ended up meeting a bike sponsor for Ben -Beyond Fabrications - and made a few other contacts that we're still working with for him. This Sunday we race at Folsom where Ben gets to show his chops against some California boys and to put in a nice hard effort in before his big race at Worlds in September.
I end this post with Chris Lieto who was a really nice guy and who remembered Ben from his performace at Lavaman where he whooped Chris good. Chris also supports my triathlon camps that I do with Chris McCormack. Some of the other pros we got to see were: Luke Bell, Paul Amey, Brian Lavelle, Chris Hauth, Pete Jacobs, Greg Remaly, Dede Griesbauer,and Lara Brown. It was incredible to see how fresh most of these folks looked when they were done. My friend Rhae finished 5th in her AG and 9th overall. Her focus is Kona - but pretty amazing for someone who said:

"The race was ok. Not great – but not horrible. Just not that much gas in the tank – know what I mean? And I was hot. And not in that “slinky black dress, make your wife jealous” kind of way. But in that “holy shit get a girl some ice” kind of way. So I did a 4:48 and got a bottle of wine. That’s all right when all is said and done. If there is liquor I can be convinced it was a success."

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