All's well here in stellar clearsky weather. This is evidently going to be a higher level race than the Bisbee weekend; teams of national stature are arriving at our palatial Motel 6. Luckily, it is nextdoor to a Holiday Inn Minus or Junior or whatever it's called, so I can walk a block and enjoy the sumptuous free buffet breakfast there. I feel like such an outlaw.
After years of working at the bicycle races, I have gotten used to the general friendliness and class behavior of the riders and staff. I say general, because I know it's not always, always, but I remember very few rudenesses or gaps in consideration.
My friend Brian came to Bisbee with his mother. Both are native Arizonans and lived in SE AZ in the area around Bisbee. Brian was pleased with the folks he met and had big fun. We especially enjoyed our contacts with the Mexican team called Tecos. The team manager rode with us in the truck during the races and we watched his boys dominate the race. When I got here to Silver City, I looked around for a team vehicle with a bike-washing hose and bucket set up, and the Tecos team was the only one here.
We struggled with my Spanish and their English but had fun talking about the Vuelta de Bisbee and the results they'd had there. I used their hose and a brush and dish soap and my Triumph just gleams. They are, by the way, not skimping along as some of us remember. They have nice team vehicles and fine racing bicycles - they are equipped as well as the "rich" US teams. Times have changed for cycling in Mexico, evidently.
There are all classes of racers here except juniors (16-18 yrs old). The distances vary from class to class, as they should. Asking 50 year olds to ride the final stage, the Gila Monster, would be cruel. It may be the most difficult single day of racing in the country.
Tomorrow's stage is mostly rolling with a six-mile climb to a hilltop at the end. All this is at six and seven thousand feet, remember. Thursday's race is flatter and more wind-battered, still hard, but it favors a different kind of rider, a sturdier, heavier athlete. There's a time trial on a rolling, windswept road on Friday and a downtown criterium around city streets on Saturday.
As usual, the town is taken over by the race; by teams and riders from all over the west, by officials and mechanics and fans...and a few itinerant motor drivers like this blogger. Must be at least 20 motorcycles associated with the race, mostly ridden solo and doing any number of jobs.
I'll be carrying a bicycle mechanic who will in turn be carrying spare wheels. We will follow the breakaways. If a rider has a flat or mechanical problem, the mechanic will hop off the motorcycle and help out. We try to keep bad luck from ruining anyone's race.
I'll be in touch as the days pass here. I hope it's as beautiful and exciting where you are as it is here in Silver City New Mexico, at the foot of the Gila Wilderness...