Monday, July 31, 2006

Ragbrai Pics & the Lance Glance

Jay, Todd, Kurt, and I stopped for some refreshments at a bar Thursday morning. They were playing some really nice Phish and Dead tunes, and I had a couple of bloody marys while groovin’. On our way out the door, the Flashback folks that stopped at the VFW in Newton for grub were just pulling up. Back to the bar we go. More tunes and 2 more marys and I was primed for the morning. We all head out.
Going out of town was a bit of a brute with a long climb out of the river valley. On the way up the hill from behind me, I hear Uncle Terry yell “LANCE”. I look back to find Mr. 7 Time Tour de France champ chuggin’ up the hill with his crew in tow. FAST. As quickly as any mind floating in vodka and tomato juice could, I made the decision to pull over and grab the camera out of my pannier for another chase. Lance laughs as he passes me. He’s seen this before.

The day before I had chased Lance and Co. for 9 miles averaging 25 mph and couldn’t catch him. I was pushing 28 and 29 on the flats and cruising 32+ on the downs. Still couldn’t catch up.

As I jump on my bike, pulling iPod ear buds out, fumbling with taking the camera out of its case, shoving it in my bike pockets, clipping into pedals, and punishing my jelly legs by pushing mach speed, I see Lance pulling away. I’ve seen this before.

Dammit. Not again. I flip through the gears the wrong way going up hill and get some speed up. After about a mile I’m almost to the back of the Lance pack. I start taking pictures. I really thought this would be the closest I’d come. My heart was going to explode out of my chest… and I was dying fast. Breathing hurt.

Looking up, I saw that we had a couple more climbs out of the valley, and I didn’t think I’d be able to stay with him the whole way. I ducked behind the last person on the crew for a quick break, and decided on a sprint. My lungs, legs and heart voted a resounding “no”… Traitors. Good thing I had ol’ vodka brain on my side.

Coming around the front I look to my right and literally am rendered speechless. It was Lance Armstrong. LANCE ARMSTRONG. I’m still not breathing quite like humans were meant to when I hear him say “Hey, you made it!”

To which I say, “Yeah, 4 bloody marys in the morning tend to slow you down.”

Doing a double take across his handle bars after hearing this, Lance says “You had 4 bloody marys???” His crew chuckles (nervously?) as they begin to realize I’m probably a hazard riding next to them. Still climbing a hill I take my first photo after thanking him for his work with cancer. I ask him if he’s having fun, and he says he is. Small talk is waning. My legs get hit with a 3rd burn. Not good. I’ve had 2 burns, but this is crazy. I’m on vacation for crying out loud… I snap one more picture hoping for the look...

Lance asks “Did you get it?”

Sure did. Thanks Lance. Thanks a million. See you next year.

Right click and “Save picture as” to grab this photo.


pcakes said...

Great write-up aaron! Sounds like you had a stellar vacation, ridin' with lance and all! (;

MOD said...


T-bone said...

Nice shot AB. Let's get some night polo going. I don't have to mow lawns anymore so any night of the week works for me.

ajb said...

Dig it... I still have that field right down from my house.

I'll bring the bloody marys!

T-bone said...

ABJ, you ready for some polo or what? Let's get the ball rolling. Send me an email or give me a call

Lumpy said...

That's pretty cool!
Is it just me or does Lance look a little pudgy?

Doug said...

lance pudgy. dude. i'm morbidly obese now.

pelotonjim said...

I have a similar photo of Lance at 25mph at the Ride for the Roses a couple of years pack. It was hard enough without the two Bloddy marys! You are the man!

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