Friday, May 2, 2008

Fri noon at the library in scenic, remote Silver City

Not so windy today. I mention the wind because it is a big factor in the bicycle race and in just being here. It's so strong it howls in the trees and tries to move you around as you pass gaps between buildings. It's a bit eerie and unsettling.

I imagine that when people first came here and there was no shelter but the mountains, the wind must have been hard on them emotionally.

The road signs (detour or bike race ahead) are mounted on springs so that they can blow almost horizontal and spring back up. Normal tripod mounted signs, even with sand bags holding down the legs of the tripod, would be blown over in no-time.

The town is full to capacity with bike racers and staff. All the motels are full and many of the teams are staying in private homes with guest hosts. The cafes and restaurants are busy with skinny out-of-town visitors. The race and the blues festival a few weeks later are the busy times here, I believe.

There's concern that people from Albuquerque and Tucson may not drive here for fun weekends away - at four dollars a gallon. The many art galleries and cafes depend on tourist business year 'round... and it's a long way here from almost anywhere. Except Lordsburg or Deming.

Among the race staff, faces do not change often. There's one or two new faces, but most of the officials and support staff come back year after year. They come from Idaho, Wyoming, norCal, east Texas. Whatever is going on in their lives in late April and early May, it is set aside so he or she can come here for the race.

One official had motorcycle trouble the day he intended to leave from Davis, California. He had to wait for the bike to be fixed, at which point he pointed it south and rode in one long effort to Silver City. Eleven hundred miles? I think that's what he said...

None of us wants NOT to be here. We like the town and the event and we like each other. No one says, maybe I'll see you next year. No one says maybe.

There's a significant difference in the communities here from that at Bisbee. This race is on the national calendar; it's a race that attracts the big teams from the US and Canada and Mexico. So many of the race staffers are men and women who were racers themselves, long ago and not so long ago.

Ex-Saturn star Gianna Roberge is here as team management, having moved here with her sweetie. Mike Engleman is here as is Scott Moninger, both running teams. J-me Carney with Cheerwine. Gord Fraser is here; Henk Vogels says Gord is working with Chris Carmichael Training - coaching a group of Guatemalan masters racers! Carmen Dialusio (sorry abt the spelling, Carmen) is here coaching the Aaron's team.

Vogels rides for Toyota-United. After an exhausting Tour of Georgia, he and one other guy drove the huge team motor home from Georgia to Silver City, a two and a half day trip. He's fried and getting sawed off in the mountains. Not that this is his kinda race even when he's at his best. Like most good pros, he's philosophical about his racing here. He'll do well at other races down the road.

The scene here is not urban, not hip and happenin'. I have not seen a fixed-gear bike for days. People get along without cars but do so on whatever they own, not stylized "city bikes." There are a few scooters and lots of motorcycles, especially in the evenings on Bullard Street, where they are backed against the high curbs in front of taverns, mercifully silent.

The racers are out on an unsheltered road outside town riding a time trial. Not much wind yet this morning. Some of the riders have opted for solid "disk" wheels, a scary ride in gusty winds.... Shaving those seconds...

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