Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A giant of insignificance

As you can read in my wife's blog, we were able to go to the Tour de Georgia's 6th (and final road) stage last Saturday. As I'm in line to meet Floyd Landis, Mendy is looking at me as if I'm thinking it's no big deal. Likewise as Big George is riding away to the tour bus, ready to link up with his team and scoot off to their ultra-mega-cycling-hero-realm for massages, nutrition, happy thoughts, calming music/muzak, jovial banter about the days events, and the secret strategy of tomorrow's race. Well this is how I envision it.

I guess that's why Mendy felt I had such a detached demeanor in both instances. Unlike the first time I met Big George at 221 North (after a few BPDs), where I was not encumbered by such a huge gap between current reality and my perception of that realm, I must have seemed a bit too cool and collected. The reality is, it wasn't real. You know when you go to a movie at the theater, and it's so engaging that you almost feel you are in the story a bit? In a brief moment of later reflection of the movie or connection to the plot, for a second you recall it as a personal memory versus a witness of fantasy. Or maybe a dream where you are involved in an epic journey. Later on you recall a tiny snippet of the adventure, and wonder if it was a real memory, or just recollection of a dream.

To back up a bit, I got into cycling like a mad-man last summer right before the Tour de France. So, I watched the TdF very intently and enthusiastically. I wanted (at the time) "some guy named Hincapie" to win, but was elated when Mr Landis overcame the stage 16 disaster with the stage 17 miracle, and then go on to win the whole stinking thing! Time warp forward: 'roids allegations, TdF championship in jeopardy, George wins the National Champ jersey right in front of me (and then the Greenville Cycling classic shortly after). All of a sudden I've exchanged private messages with Floyd online, and then met George and have photographic proof! Everyone I know pokes fun at me about my excitement (still), but it was and is a huge deal to me. I see George on a couple of rides, here and there. But, my perception was in a lightly altered state when I met George, so I was just me meeting a super cool guy. Likewise, conversing with Floyd online was just impersonal enough that it felt like a nice response to fan mail.

So, standing in line, I'm thinking, "wow, that's Floyd Landis up there, and all these people are meeting him. That's so cool for them. And to get to see so many world-caliber cyclists here today also, man these people are lucky!" Yeah, I was sitting up in the 14th row, 3 seats left of center, sticky floor, watching the movie of all this neat stuff. Until I reached around the back of Floyd for the picture and got the reality pinch. Holy crap, this is freakin Floyd Landis! Somehow I gathered the sense to take my glasses off before the EXTREMELY nice dude in line behind us took the second picture. I don't know that I saw anything or breathed until we reached the Jittery Joe's display, and it sank in.

So, the race ends, and we are both clamoring to beat the crowds and get somewhere that we can see Big George, still very viable as a sprinter against the very best (including JJ Haedo), and about to step up on the podium. Being a fan, I know he is a family man and always has his family in the prep area when they are available. It's SOOOO obvious his daughter is a daddy's girl, curling up in is (undoubtedly stinky) chest even after a 3+ hour ride that warm day. I'm right there, snapping pics, but it's as if I'm living vicariously through some character. Weird. After the podium events, I try to find Mendy. I walk all around, and finally find her (near where I started) about 4 feet from George, snapping pics. I rush to get something for him to sign, but he's gotta roll and get on the bus. Drat!

I watch him go up the road, and quickly gather my family up to go to the team bus area. Maybe we can meet some of the riders. We arrive at the Discovery bus, see some people (apparently) frustrating Ekimov with some final photos, and I realize that my 99.9%-of-the-time life with my family is more important than acting like a rock star groupie to the riders. Sure they are really cool, and I would love to spend some real time with all of them, but my family is what I need to worry about. Grace has a full diaper, needs a nap, has been in the heat for a few hours, and is thirsty.

Upon reflection, I think about why I'm so taken by these athletes, and can't seem to connect myself in situations of proximity. I truly want to be on the Pro Tour, and believe it could have been at least possible had I started early enough, but it's way too late for me. I want desperately to be in their realm, even if not equal, but considered as an athlete near that caliber. Reality tells me that, compared to riders that have been groomed since puberty, trained like fiends, and live like the fabled USSR Olympians for this sport, I am enormous in my insignificance within the world I wish to be significant. I'm just a dude that rides his bike as hard as he can, hopes to be competative in triathlons, running, and maybe cycling, and wishes like crazy I had met my potential, which I'm sure I never came close to. The Pro Tour will never be my reality, so those athletes on the Pro Tour will seem beyond reality until I'm able to become personally involved in a frienship with them.


Oh well, I'm still cooler than most of you! I met George Hincapie and Floyd Landis! How ya like me now?

(and, yes I'm kidding..sorta :-) )


Mendy said...

Excellent post, David! Like I always tell you, you have such a way with words, that while reading this, I was feeling almost everything you felt, and that's not just because I am married to you and was there for the events you talked of.

Yea, It was very cool! Floyd put his arms around us, and George is just so neat and from 'round here...

Gotta Run said...

Wow... keep the blogs coming.

Why did you not share that you have a private shrine just for George? LOL.

You are right about one thing.... you are a mad man. Aren't you the crazy guy who loves to climb the hill on Holland Road?


Gotta Run said...

Why did you not share the fact that you have a shrine in your house for George? :)

Aren't you that same mad man who runs that hill on Holland Road?


Jason The Running Man said...

Hey, you kinda sexy in that oufit!!!!!