DEAR TOUR OF CALIFORNIA
What is the deal with these fucking transfers my man. I mean, two hours in the morning? The race itself, which is what?, an hour at the start, four hours at least of actual in the saddle on the road bike racing, then another hour at that finish, so that’s what, six hours total at least. Then three more hours of driving after the race. Yeah, sure, driving through an endless Grapes of Wrath tableau with the dust and the wind and the fallow rows of dirt, maybe feels a little bit educational like some kind of Smithsonian Travel Back In Time Tour and if nothing else it’s clearly relevant and possibly poignant, but dude, it’s also super-duper boring. And tedious. Like say, I don’t know, making license plates for 10-20 years in a medium security prison. Anyway I’m not a math expert but based on those numbers we’re talking about an eleven hour day before I download my photographs or eat dinner or bathe or write words or process my images or write more words or upload my images or any of that other shit.
It’s almost like you want us to hate you. Like you’d prefer it if we just went home right now and never came back. Like maybe you’re in some kind of contract that you can’t get out of, one of the deals where you can’t quit but maybe if you fuck up really bad and make the whole thing miserable for everyone involved, they’ll fire you. But first you’ve got to make everyone so disappointed and disillusioned they pack their shit up and go home. Dude, are you trying to make this race suck? Are you trying to get fired?
If you want to get fired, fine, that’s on you, that’s your prerogative. But first, let’s talk about the problem with your plan to make everyone hate this race by hiding it in the post-agricultural strawberry fields behind the half built wholly failed outdoor mini mall in Elk Grove. The problem is California. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much time you spend in the Sacramento Valley bouncing around between Modesto and Visalia. And Bakersfield. And Fresno. And Stockton. And blah blah blah. And Lodi. And you get the point. No matter how much time you spend avoiding California’s abundance of mountains and rivers and lakes and oceans and cities that people live in, you can’t convince the world that California sucks because it doesn’t.
And if California doesn’t suck then it stands that a/the Tour of California doesn’t either. So knock it off. And quit getting it wrong on purpose.
Yesterday I saw the police forcing cyclists on the way up the mountain to watch the finish, off their bikes. Forty minutes ahead of the race. Generally speaking the police were dicks about it too. They were curt and terse and petulant, and sometimes menacing. Also, that policy is patently stupid. And unnecessary. I mean, unless you want to discourage spectators, which maybe now it’s clear that you do. It’s not a surprise to you that crowds and enthusiasm are a major part of what nurtures a race right? Like… the more people that watch a race and care about a race, the better a race does, on every level. It fosters competition which makes the actual racing part of the race more interesting, and the more interesting and competitive a race is, the more other people care. And that snowballs. And then maybe you make some money or create a legacy or something. The point is why are the police so aggressive? Why does this race feel so unapproachable? And why are the stage courses so boring? Except yesterday, yesterday’s course wasn’t boring.
On a more positive note, the food has been really good. Sometimes I think the best part of the TOC is the food. For example, tonight in Santa Barbara, we ate at Los Agaves. Which, funny story, it turns out that Los Agaves is just down the street from La Super-Rica Taqueria which is this other Mexican place that I ate at like five years ago because everyone I know that lives in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara raved about it, but I thought it was just okay, but everyone I talked to said it was AMAZING, but I thought it was just like, pretty good or whatever. But that’s not the point because we didn’t eat there tonight, we ate at Los Agaves where we spent $68.56 cents on a small Caesar salad, an order of queso fundido, some nachos, the carnitas rojas special, and some kinda tinga gringa plate too. That was just for Emiliano and I. Kyle ordered separately because he wanted to pay for his brother and his brother’s wife. So that’s $68.56 for just Emiliano and I, which is an obscene amount of money and food for just two people, but it was worth it. Then we went to one of the Starbucks on State Street because we always end the evening with a Starbucks. Kyle ordered Emiliano a mocha. Emiliano didn’t want the Mocha, Kyle was confused, but Emiliano drank it anyway because the calories don’t count when you get something by accident and/or through no fault of your own. I got a half-caf Grande Americano. Kyle got some juice or something.
Speaking of Starbucks, did I tell you I forgot my F%&*#PH#@# Musette bag full of memory cards and batteries at the Starbucks we stopped at in Morgan Hill after yesterday’s finish? So yeah, we just wanted to chill out for a bit before driving to Paso Robles or San Luis Obispo or wherever it was we stayed last night. So we sat down and ordered a couple of rounds of drinks, relaxed, gathered some strength, looked at the internet, pulled back the arrow and left. Me, without some of my shit. So this morning at the Starbucks in wherever we stayed—shortly after discovering I was missing a bag with important camera-related shit in it—I called the Starbucks in Morgan Hill to see if they had found a little man purse civil war haversack jammer. While the phone rang I thought about whether or not whoever picked-up on that end would know I was at another Starbucks on this end. Like maybe there was some kind of display or something. Maybe a light or something.
And then I was like, “what if there was a network of vacuum tubes that connected every Starbucks?”
I started seeing one of those maps they have in the back of like an Alaska Airlines Magazine, you know, with all the places they fly connected by a bunch of lines indicating routes, but the one in my head was like 59 million times more complicated. Then I started thinking about like, what if you could email objects? Like they do in Star Trek. That transporter deal. When are we going to get that? Anyway, Garrett semi-reluctantly committed to mailing the bag to my house in Oregon.
The sign-in stage on the Pier at Pismo beach was neat. I was taking pictures of the crowd and this lady stopped me to say, Welcome to Ammmmerica. As if I was from Norway or someshit. I wanted to know why she was so certain I was a foreigner. Was it just the vibe out there on the pier with the international athletes and the race bikes and all the Old World pageantry? Or maybe my scarf? Some old dude asked Ian Boswell where his seat was. The old guy was all, where’s your seat?, then he pointed to the seat, which seat was (#obvs) clearly attached to the end of the seat post, and said, you’re going to ride that for five hours? Ian handled it well, he smiled and said yeah, of course, that’s my seat, I’ll be fine. Then the old guy looked at me and asked would I want to sit on that for five hours? I said I would love nothing better to sit down on that for five hours straight. Then the old guy got sad and walked away, kinda like, maybe I’d ruined his whole day. I didn’t have time to get sad, I had to photograph Danny Summerhill doing wheelie-tricks and posing on the boardwalk with his bike and some chick who works for Medalist.
About 30 miles into the race Kyle and I stopped at a Mercado in the town of Guadalupe. It was like Bolivia if Bolivia was owned by Koreans. I don’t remember what happened after that because I fell asleep. All I know is that I was driving, and that we passed some rednecks in the woods who had cool mini bikes and flags and domestic beer vibes. Then there was an insanely boring KOM. Highlights include watching Emiliano drive (ride) by on the back of a motorcycle. Some shade. This one guy sitting on his car knew what Manual for Speed was. When he rode past, Alex gave me the thumbs up. And that’s about it.
In Avila, at the finish there was a stage in the Expo Area. On it there was a young woman doing some kinda stand-up comedy quiz show deal for a crowd of six. There was also a DJ on the stage playing classics like that one song from The Hangover which song is, I think, a Flo Rida cover/remix of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round.” Then Kyle and I got our mouths sponsored by 10 Speed Coffee, which was important, because Yo Mama’s Coffee, Avila’s only coffee shop, was closed today because they hate business and commerce and capitalism and making money. THANK YOU TEN SPEED COFFEE!!!
Peter Sagan won but you already knew that.