August 19, 2013: Stage 01 ASPEN / SNOWMASS

START: ASPEN 1:05 p.m.
DISTANCE: 68.2 mi/109.7km
SPRINTS: Start/Finish (x2)
KOMs Snowmass, McLain Flats Rd.
FINISH: ASPEN
ETA: 3:48 p.m.

Current Location: Room 305, the room is not equipped with AC, Emiliano is shirtless, I’m in my underwear, we found a fan and put it in the window, from which window we can see Aspen leaves rustling in the golden afternoon sunlight. We are sunburned.

Objective(s): Wake up in Snowmass, hitchhike to Aspen, interview racers, photograph the race, hitchhike back to Snowmass.

•Weather: High-altitude sunny, hot-but-manageable, scattered showers.
•Wifi Status: FAIR. Download Speed 7.51mbs, Upload Speed 8.15mbs.

Favorite thing said by a fifty-five year old white guy at the finish: “Come on guys, it looks like they got the token hotties on the stage already.”

Today’s Media Guide Glossary Pick: "TAKE A FLYER: When one rider goes off the front of the pack, usually alone."


manualforspeed_usapc2013_stage1-16

At 10:01 a.m. inline behind us at the Snowmass Village Starbucks we met the 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge Podium Girls: Candice Wurster and Courtney James.1 Candice from Los Angeles, California drank an Iced Doppio With Half-&-Half and Courtney from Fort Collins, Colorado drank an Iced Venti Unsweetened Passion Tea.

"We’re having a blast! We work with an agency called Umbrella Girls USA and we were selected by Medalist. We’ve done NASCAR, Moto GP, NHRA, Motocross and a lot of cycling events. We feel like we’ve made it now because this Medalist and USA PRO CHALLENGE event is the biggest event we’ve done so far. We haven’t done any weird jobs but we’ve met some weird people. Do we know about Peter Sagan? Yes! And yes we saw that picture and we know what he did. We would not let it happen to us though, we’d be like, "No way!" [At this point MFS interjects: “But he’s really fast, and he is a sprinter!” And then we all start laughing and pretending to dodge unsolicited Ass Grabs.]

"We don’t think he’s ever going to do it again though."


We don’t want to drive to the start in Aspen because last year parking in Aspen was non-existent, the whole having and managing a vehicle in that town during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge experience was protracted, caustic and problematic. Most, if not all, of the teams are staying in the Snowmass Village complex (we are too), various shuttles are running between Snowmass and Aspen and a Public Bus rumor is going around, but we decide to hitchhike thumbs-out-style on the main road just behind the complex. The Garmin-Sharp Team Bus Driver does give us a thumbs-up—we are clearly doing the thumbs-out-we-are-hitchhiking gesture and not the thumbs-up-hey-we-like-you gesture—and but doesn’t slow and/or stop for us. A series of Judge, Medical, and Event Staff vans pass us but do not stop. Troy Lyon, the soigneur for Team Novo Nordisk (TNN)2, offered to give us a ride in a team support vehicle he was driving, but later than we wanted. An Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Team car stopped for a moment to laugh at us and tell us that if we were hot girls they would give us a ride, but since we weren’t, they had too much shit in the back seat—sorry. Eventually a white mini-van with United Health Care magnets on the side stopped for us and offered us a ride. That’s when we met Wes Mallette (driving), UHC’s PR/Media/Social/Communications Officer and Joe Coddington (aka J.COD), UHC’s Manager of Everything That Isn’t A Race Officer.

We promptly told them nobody wanted to stop for us because we’re just Manual for Speed, and Wes said yeah, well, whatever, what about Manual For Professional Kindness and Courtesy, and Mutual Respect, Respect for the Sport?

And we all said yeah really loudly together and laughed, then we had a super enjoyable drive to Aspen during which drive we told them about the Race Security Officer we met yesterday in the Media Room who told us that before this he worked for Homeland Security during which tenure his primary focus was security and threat analysis at the Aspen Airport. We also talked about caravan catastrophes and some longstanding beef between a certain Team Bus Driver and another certain Team Bus Driver. At the start where we parked Wes told us that we could get a ride back with them after the finish and that barring a UHC podium we would likely be leaving more or less right away. Editors Note: Please note Time Stamp 4:00-5:00pm.


manualforspeed_usapc2013_stage1-6

An enumerated break-down of our day, catalogued by time and organized chronologically.

11:45 AM: Interviewed Tim Johnson

11:53 AM-12:01 PM: Found a spectator at the Rapha/SKY RV with a giant cardboard Tim Johnson head and convinced him to follow me in an effort to find Tim Johnson, so that MFS could take a photo with Tim Johnson and GIANT HEAD Tim Johnson.

12:17 PM: Interviewed Phil Gaimon, discussed a strategy of sorts.

12:42 PM: We interviewed Matt Cooke about puppies and sponsorship.

1:05 PM: Watched the start of the race.

1:15 PM: After watching the Neutral Parade Lap through downtown Aspen, we found a building on a corner 150 meters from the finish with rooftop access. Employees of the business located on the ground floor showed us where the door to the roof was, walked us to the top and vouched for us when a woman working at law firm on the second floor was skeptical about our presence in general and whether we had permission from the building owner (Ben) in particular.

1:25 PM: After vetting our rooftop vantage situation for the next lap (estimated at roughly forty-minutes now), the first of three including the finish, we went to lunch three blocks away at NY Pizza.

1:55 PM: We attempted to gain access to the corner-located rooftop vantage but the door to the top floor was locked. We blame the law firm woman who mostly likely contacted Ben, who we never met, and who never gave us permission, but who one of the employees of the business on the ground floor said had given us permission, falsely, in an effort to help us, and because we think he didn’t care much for the law firm lady either.

2:00 PM: We pushed our way through the crowd to the orange barricades and photographed the field.

2:05 PM: We walked to a Starbucks.

2:55 PM: We accidentally forgot about the race and missed the next lap, still at the Starbucks enjoying espresso drinks and air conditioning, and a handy 110v outlet. Side note: Inside the Starbucks we located a TV (which TV was playing the race) and photographed it as penance.

3:45 PM: We walked to the finish, past the finish line, and photographed the finish.

3:55 PM: We walked over to the Stage/Podium area and interviewed our new friends Candice (@candicelorraine_) and Courtney (@misscourtneyjames).

4:00-5:00 PM: We watched every vehicle associated with race drive away except the white van (Kiel Reijnen, Team United Health Care, finished third and so our new friend and the driver of the white van Wes, was busy—just like he said he would be), in which white van we were planning to get a ride back to Snowmass.

5:00 PM: After interviewing Kiel Reijnen, we purchased some Swedish Fish and Gummy Bears from a local market and gas station.

5:15 PM: We hitchhiked home with, apparently, the owner/manager of Team United Health Care in his Toyota FJ.

8:00 PM: David Evangelista from Team Colombia invited us to the Team Dinner where we ate bland chicken and white starchy foods with Team Colombia, and where we also ran into ex-Exergy riders Fast Freddy, Serge and Morgan.

The Start: Before the start we mingled and interviewed and lurked.

Team Bontrager at Snowmass Village on their way to the start. Anybody have a half-million dollars? These guys need it!
"Hey guys!"—Serge Tvetcov
While mingling at the start we ran into Tim Johnson. He told us about his breakfast: oatmeal with three poached eggs, pistachios and mixed berries on top. He also told us he thinks Aspen is a really small town that’s like a giant club, and that he recently bought a book about cycling on Amazon even though Amazon doesn’t appear to have a search by Pulitzer Prize feature and the lack of that feature frustrates him.
"My name is Austin Roark, I’m here with my friend Michael Taylor. We just got done working out, we grabbed some lunch and then we decided to come down here and see the race. We’re going for our boy Richie from Team Sky, we’d like him to win."
Phil Gaimon On Sign-In/RV Exit Strategy: "Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I want to be the last person to poop, I don’t want anybody waiting for me, I don’t want to be rushed otherwise I can’t do my business my way. I need four minutes, maybe four forty-five, and when I’m ready to go it’s ready to go."
What are these two talking about?
El Puma.
“ASPEN IS LITERALLY PULSATING WITH ENERGY AND ENTHUSIASM RIGHT NOW. ASPEN DOES IT RIGHT, THERE IS NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT!”
The 2013 USA Pro Challenge begins with its biggest opening day hurdle ever. The new for 2013 Aspen/Snowmass Circuit may be short on distance, but it packs a punch that will welcome the riders to Colorado. Consisting of three 22-mile laps, 66 miles total, Stage 1 packs in 3,080 ft. of climbing per lap with minimal recovery, so this is no easy start. Each lap will see the racers fight for position onto the narrow, but beautiful Maroon Creek Bridge, then grind up to Snowmass Village. A quick descent leads to two short, but steep climbs and a quick loop through downtown before doing it all again. Pair that with a starting elevation of 7,900 ft. and you have one tough opening day. No one will win the 2013 USA Pro Challenge on this opening day, but without a strong start, someone could lose it.
"The brown one is Hank (aka Hank the Tank) and the white one is Coco from Chihuahua. They like cycling, they like it now that it’s a cleaner sport. Hank came last year to see Vinokourov and he was so so sad when he didn’t make it, but he was thrilled when Vinokourov won the Olympics. He also likes college football and the Steelers."
It's HAMMER TIME!
Peace!

The Race: We missed most of the race. Partly due to the course, partly due to poor planning / user error.

The Finish:

Candice and Courtney: "It was A-MAZING! It was a little bit nerve-wracking because it’s our first day and we wanted to do a good job you know, but I think we rocked it. We brought our A-Game, we had a great day, we met a lot of new people, people were welcoming, we loved it. And Peter Sagan was very respectful. I think it was a very close race, I just give them mad props for doing what they do, that’s a tough course, I mean they love riding it but it’s tough, they all deserve to be winners."
Matt Cooke, before the race: "The last cute dog I saw was probably my puppy Enzo, who’s at home, I named him after the fastest car in the world. What’s my day this week? Maybe tomorrow (Independence) or Stage 4. The thing is, yeah I’m a climber but everybody here is a climber, half of the field are incredible climbers. If I get the KOM on Independence I will definitely shout-out Manual for Speed at the camera, you guys need to get me a little flag or something, I would love it if Manual for Speed sponsored me in 2014."3
Kiel Reijnen: "I want the world to know that my sprit bear rode with me today out on the course and that getting to race in your home state in your own backyard is such a privilege. I don’t take that for granted, not one bit. I’m going to enjoy every moment of this race and when it’s done I’m going to hide out in the Cabin in the woods. It’s a secret cabin, in the Sangre de Cristo, not in New Mexico but in Colorado. I’m going to rejuvenate my spirit."
  1. Pictured above, same order. []
  2. The Pro Continental team formerly known as Team Type 1 - Sanofi []
  3. Please note that not only would MFS love to sponsor Matt Cooke, but that apparently today was his day as evidenced by the conspicuously polka-dotted jersey he is wearing. []