Chickens, how to put this? There are days when I open my little laptop and launch my wee browser and call up my NN.C WordPress dashboard page, and a single thought fills my skull:
I hate you.
Sometimes it goes into greater detail:
I hate you I hate me I hate everybody I don’t want to do this How did I get myself roped into this Why am I not writing a book Why am I wasting my time on this crap.
Usually it passes. I think of this page as batting practice, and these protests are, 99 days out of 100, just the creaking of the old muscles before they warm up and loosen up and start connecting with the ball. On the 100th day, it’s not, and that’s why I’m glad for you folks, because you’re all fabulous and many of you are better writers than I am, and sometimes you send photos. So let’s let our correspondent MichaelG, occasionally furloughed California state worker, carry the ball today. He left this in comments over the weekend, but he sent me some pix to go with it. He went to the AMGEN 2009 Tour of California when it rolled through his town:
The Amgen Tour of California kicked off today in Sacramento. Those who count such things tell us more than 100,000 people showed up to watch the race between the bicycle people and the impending storm. The bicycle people and the rest of us won. The race was a prologue. 136 riders started at one minute intervals to race the clock over a 2.4 mile course around the State Capitol. There were some fast cyclists in the first 118 riders and 118 minutes (notably the Marks Renshaw and Cavendish) but the last 18 minutes and riders were the cream. Zirbel, Hushovd, Kirchen, Boonen, Hincape, Tyler, Zabriskie, Armstrong, Vandevelde, Cancellara, Basso, Rogers, Landis, Leipheimer. This was where the racing and the times got serious. The suspense all day, the waiting for the arrival of the storm and the elite riders had the crowd greeting the late riders and the persistent good weather with cheers of approbation and relief. The cheers grew louder and louder as rider after rider lowered best time only to be shunted aside by a succeeding rider. It was a great day to stand on a curb in Sacramento.
I was a volunteer worker and my station was right at the finish line. The time clock on the arch over the line provided a rough idea of when to expect a cyclist and the cheering of the people a block up the street lent another visual signal to a rider’s arrival. They crossed the line and flashed past me at whatever speed a world class cyclist attains with an eight block run on a flat street. Taking pictures proved futile since they were going so fast and also since they tended to hug the fence upon which I was leaning. I could have picked one off with a seven iron. The same with watching, as the best view I could see was the advertising plastered on their asses as they slowed after the finish.
The collegial happiness of the crowd, the electricity generated by a world class event, the spectacle and the general all around fun made for a terrific day. The whole thing was capped by the news that the dipshits in the big white building across the street had finally reached a deal.
In the end I was standing right before the stage. I was in front of all the print people and photogs and behind the VS camera guy. I had a fantastic view of all the jersey presentations and my boss the Governator and got a ton of great pix. I have one of Cancellara (the winner) being interviewed. It’s a mega close up since in the crush he was actually leaning on me. After the interview he was mobbed by young women. I’m not jealous. Leipheimer had his bike with him and showed it to me. No pix here but I’ve never seen anything like it. It was the most beautiful bike ever. I’m not jealous.
Other than Armstrong who is a professional celebrity, the riders seem to be pleasant, down to earth guys who are embarrassed by the media attention and are amazingly accessible. Cancellara in particular seemed overwhelmed and almost frightened by the press of the press. At one point I thought he was going to throw up. You should have seen his face, his throat working and his hand over his mouth. I’d also like to see his paycheck.
A most enjoyable day. Afterwards, I fell into a pub down the street with a friend for a pint of Anchor Steam. It was delicious. Details and pix available on dozens of web sites. KCRA, SACBEE and VS (all dot com) are three good places to start. The rerun on VS starts in about 10 minutes. I can’t wait. Live coverage and reruns will be on VS for the next 10 days or so. Davis to Santa Rosa tomorrow. It’s as good as the Tour de France. Same cast on the road and on the TV including Liggett, Sherwen and Roll. Don’t miss it.
Michael gives the photo ID on this as: Arnold, Cavendish, The Fabe, Levi and Lance. It’s remarkable mainly for the unnatural hue of the governor’s hair. And finally, what’s a volunteer shift worth if you can’t grab a few photos of yourself for the scrapbook? Ladies and gentlemen, your correspondent:
Thanks, Michael. I’m taking the rest of the day off.