Team Radioshack had a week-long training camp here in Tucson this past week. Each day I’ve been obsessively checking Twitter, Facebook, various websites and the news for any mention of where the team was going to be. By Saturday I was getting pretty disappointed that I’d had no Lance or Levi sightings. All of this changed on Sunday.
Jeff, Megan, Kyle and I went to Borders at 9 am to get our tickets for the afternoon Lance Armstrong book signing. We waited in line for 45 minutes just to stand in line again later that afternoon. It was a pretty silly system, but that’s a topic for another day. Today we’re discussing Team Radioshack.
After we got our tickets we went to breakfast, where I revealed my master plans to drive around and search for the guys. I read on Johan Bruyneel’s Facebook page that the team was starting to ride at 10:30 am. So I figured I’d hit the popular riding routes, thinking that they wouldn’t ride Mount Lemmon since they’d already done so twice this week. My table of friends doubted my ability to find Lance; the boys said they were going to watch football and Megan was going to study for finals. But despite these nay-sayers, I knew I had a good chance at success today.
At the last minute Megan decided to take me up on my adventure, and we set off down 22nd street. As soon as we turned onto 22nd, I see two event police officers, and I think “hmmmm, maybe they’re gonna ride here!” We get to the next major intersection, and there’s more police officers- and people in lawn chairs lining the street. We pull over and ask them if they’re waiting for the riders. They answered yes, and told us the route the riders were supposed to take. We talked about how they found out the route, and the lady said her husband works in a bike shop and found out from there. So we hauled butt to Udall, cause that’s where we’re told they’re supposed to start, and we see hundreds of motorcyclists. Slowly, it dawns on us that we were talking about different kinds of riders, but we pull in and ask the event cops, who explain to us that it’s a motorcycle charity ride. So – back to square one.
Megan checked Twitter from her phone and sees that Lance has posted a picture of Fat Cyclist (if you don’t know Fatty’s story, I recommend you read this post here because it will come up again later in the story) and we can tell that they’re on Mount Lemmon! We drive and drive and pass plenty of Sunday riders, but no Team Radioshack. But then. Up ahead. I see the Fat Cyclist. I recognize his white jersey and really, who else rides with a helmet cam? We rolled down the windows as we pass Fatty, cheer loudly, and he grins like he’s winning a race. We pull over about a hundred yards up, and he gives each of us a high five. I was so excited, I completely forgot to take pictures!
We get back in the car, and continue up the mountain, knowing for sure now that we’re on the right track. We drive for what feels like forever, and that’s when we see jerseys we recognize: Trek Mellow Johnny’s. And then we start to see team cars. And then we see large groups of riders, and Astana jerseys, and that’s when we know we’ve hit the jackpot.
We pass Lance Armstrong. We pass Levi Leipheimer. We pass Andreas Kloden, Yaroslav Popovych, Chris Horner, and a lot of people I’ve never heard of. But it was pretty cool, and we got lots of photos that you should check out.
But the coolest part came when they cyclists pulled over so they could snack and put on warmer clothes- preparing for the descent. That provided us the opportunity to catch up and get some pictures.
Levi was very cool and chatted with us for a bit, and Lance seemed a little grumpy about the cold weather. But everyone was nice and didn’t seem to mind us being in the center of their group.
We headed back down, getting more pictures on the descent and headed home. We felt we’d done enough stalking for one day. We went to the book signing later on that afternoon, and what did Lance say when we made it to the front of the fast-moving line? “Hey, it’s you guys!” He was in a much better mood, and he chatted briefly with us about the cold on the mountain and about Fatty. The people around us were envious that he talked to us- they keep those lines moving and there’s generally no chit-chat. So all in all, it was a pretty awesome day. My only regret was not getting to meet Fatty. But the high five will suffice for now!