Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Team 7-Eleven Book Talk on 2/23/2012

Bicycle Outfitter, Los Altos, CA, 2/23/2012 @ 7 p.m. I'd been looking forward to this talk/book signing for weeks. Ever since my friend from church invited me. A chance to hear Davis Phinney talk about the good old days. I'd heard he was funny, poignant. I couldn't wait!

Then work got busy. Out-of-control busy. The night fast approached, and my workload increased. I freaked. In the back of my mind, I hoped I could make it, but reality told me that it wasn't going to happen. Just too much to do, with impending deadlines, and running out of time.

Fortunately, Gary sent me an email Thursday afternoon. Was I still coming? Oh man. "Things aren't looking good. I will try to make it, but probably not.". Fortunately, he wouldn't take "no" for an answer.

I grabbed everything on my desk, packed it up, stopped at the pharmacy on the way home, ate dinner, took the dog out and went to the event for awhile. I figured I could leave early and work from home when I was done.

Once there, I didn't want to leave! There was a short video about the team. Racing. Commentary. Video of Jim Ochowicz with a mustache. Phil Liggett with hair!!! (I know!) Stories of how 7-11 made it to Europe. How they were blamed for the crashes. How they would arrive minutes before the start of the race (oh, how I know how that feels... ugh!). Davis was apparently in rare form and was so damned funny! The entire room was cracking up and the laughter was contagious. Davis told us a story (one of MANY) about an Italian race where he got dropped with another few guys. He was left with a backpack of his stuff and had to find a way to the finish. He was with a Belgian, who opted to ride to the finish (as annunciated by Davis in a Belgian accent, "I'll ride to the feenish"), but he tried to find another way with the few stragglers left with him. They found a "freeway", but weren't allowed on it due to the toll road. So Davis asked permission to look at the traffic coming the other way (after waiting for quite some time), and to his horror, after all the time it took to arrive at the road, the team cars were screaming back to the town they were all staying in! They were stranded. Luckily, someone saw him, or the toll booth operator reported a crazy American at the toll booth, and a team car came back to retrieve him. One guy left with him, begged for a ride back to the town they were staying in!

Of course, Davis told the story about a thousand times funnier than I can relate, and the room was in tears from all of the laughter. Quite the amusing story.

He also told a really great story about Bob Roll, who has always gotten on my last good nerve. The story changed my perception of Mr. Roll, 100%. Bob had learned perfect Italian much faster than the rest of the team, and in a cafe, some Italians were fascinated with the Americans. They kept asking Bob who was the leader of the team, or the captain. Bob's response: "We're all the team leaders." I rescind most every disparaging thing I've thought about Bob. Except the hand gestures. Those still get on my nerves. :)

I hated so much to leave. But I had to work at home. HAD TO. I bought a book, and left it with my friend to get signed. And then I went home and worked till 10:30.

This was a night I wont' soon forget. Very, very entertaining. Thankfully, I stepped away from the work and deadline madness to attend this talk. Totally worth it. If they come to your town to sell the book and do this talk? GO. Don't hesitate. You won't regret it. You'll laugh yourself silly and walk away with a renewed passion for the sport, and a massive appreciation for what those guys went through all those years ago. Paving the way for the newer Americans in the Grand Tours.


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