Bargell: A fantastic 15 seconds
On Saturday, Summit County experienced world-class bicycling racing, and I for one hope there’s no going back. It seems ironically unpatriotic to admit I paid little attention to the Tour de France. It’s not that I don’t love a good sporting event, but I just now figured out I was confusing a peloton with those things used for rock climbing. Turns out they are pitons. Rather like confusing a golf rough with roughing the kicker, I suppose.
My status as a neophyte bike fanatic provided a great spring board for my far more knowledgeable friends to educate me on the topic. Now, I understand that King of the Mountain is not a spin-off of the “King of the Hill” cartoon. I also recognize the names of the top cyclists. By next year I plan to be able to pronounce them.
In honor of the event, I dusted off my mountain bike and, together with a few friends, climbed to the top of Ute Pass early in the day. Our effort was just as I would have imagined an ascent of the French Alps, until this guy on a road bike overtook me like I was standing still – which I probably was. This minor setback did not dim our enthusiasm, and we all plan to ride our bikes again at least once next summer. It’s clear the Pro Tour has improved the overall fitness level in the county.
The French had nothing on our race gastronomy, either. Bright and early on Saturday morning we pulled the old RV out to the end of the driveway on Highway 9 and staked out a prime viewing area. It was the first time all summer we’ve had the beast out. Never let it be said we did not go camping this year. We then put out a spread worthy of France, if they skipped all that fancy pate and fine wine to enjoy instead beanie-weenies and Bud.
As race time approached we cranked up the boom box and rocked out to REO Speedwagon. I bet they were doing the same thing somewhere in a VIP tent. A friend in his bad Budweiser cut-off shorts from high school (that nearly still fit) waved the American flag at the passing motorists, including all manner of law enforcement. He was uniformly greeted with smiles, waves and outright laughter. Fortunately there were no arrests.
After the road closed, before the onslaught of team cars and police vehicles, we enthusiastically told the kids to go play in the street. Only the parents thought this was funny. Then came, and went, the race. There are far more sophisticated accounts of how the breakaway group passed, followed a few minutes behind by the peloton, and you all know who won. What we didn’t know is there was at least an hour of fun left waving to all of the passing motorists who, by choice or unwittingly, fell in behind the race. It wasn’t quite a Fourth of July parade, but pretty darn close.
Once the people in the passing cars no longer seemed happy to see us, the kids retreated to play in the swimming pool. OK, so it was a pond not a pool, where they proceeded to cover themselves in mud. At least they were able to swim with the dogs, and what could be more Summit County than that?
Our group then turned on the TV to watch the finish. Of course, the race had long since ended. Those guys (whose names I’m going to learn how to pronounce) sure do ride fast. We did, however, catch all the kissing on the podium, and harbored a secret hope that Biff America would plant a big smooch on the winner as he donned his Viking helmet. Maybe next year.
In all it was great fun. Who knew a world-class event would bring so much class to our (red) neck of the woods?
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
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