Friday, July 4, 2008

Getting ready for the Tour

Last night we went to a party at the home of fellow cycling enthusiast to quaff a few beers and lay our bets for the 2008 Tour de France. It was easy to find the home...the one towards which lots of skinny men in bright yellow jerseys were streaming.

Our friend had transformed his house into a Silent Auction for cyclists. Bid sheets with the name of pro cyclists covered every horizontal surface in the house, and the guests were invited to bid for cyclists who they thought would get a spot on the podium and/or win a jersey. Helpful tips like "the cyclists are organized alphabetically, by team" sent people scurrying from one room to the other as 9 pm, the end of the auction, approached.

The scale of the bidding started off pretty reserved - $1.50 for Andy Schleck, $2.00 for his brother Frank, for instance - but with the host's father calling it bets of $25 and $50 it started to get competitive. Thank goodness I have all that experience with the school's silent auction fundraiser. I have learned not to show my hand too early, and if there's something we really want, I hover over the bid sheet like a hawk. I'm not above throwing 'bows, if it comes to someone like George Hincapie.

The kids, who have been raised on TDF, were as enthused as the rest of us, probably to the detriment of our checkbook. So when the gavel dropped, the Kho family had "won" the following riders, for whom we will be vociferously rooting for the next 3 weeks:
  • Frank Schleck, Team CSC
  • Damiano Cunego, Team Lampre
  • Robbie McEwan, Team Silence Lotto
  • Denis Menchov, Team Rabobank (for $1! Deal of the century.)
  • Stijn Devolder, Team Quick Step
  • Sylvain Chavanel, Team Cofidis
  • David Millar, Team Slipstream-Chipotle
Please let some of them win something, I am already wincing in anticipation of the email that tells me how much we owe for our enthusiastic participation...

On a related note, my article for the San Fran Chronicle on "The Art of Handcrafted Bicycles" comes out tomorrow, just in time for the start of the tour and my own departure for vacation. I hope they're selling the paper at SFO at 5:00 am tomorrow so I can see the photos that accompany my profiles of Bernie Mikkelsen, Mike Ahrens, and Craig Calfee...

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