Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Valentine's in Palo Alto, CA

The red carpet adventure began on Valentine's Day - I loaded into a cab, headed for the airport to catch my late flight to San Francisco, CA to see my sweetie. Jay left days prior, driving out to the sunny locale to wrench for Kelly Benefits Strategies, a pro cycling team based out of MN, at this year's Tour of California.

With loads of anticipation in my lungs, I found myself laughing in despair as I neared the gate, only to hear that our flight was delayed 3 hours. Chuck Aaron, Melissa, and I hit the VIP lounge to wait it out with free drinks, snacks, and internet. By 11:30, we got confirmation of our departure... by 4:00 AM PST, I was sneaking into Jay's hotel room, trying desperately to remember which bed was his. I poked and prodded at the first bed, but resolved myself to snoop a little closer at the second. In the dark of the room, I made the commitment, and luckily jumped into the right bed. With only 3 hours to sleep, I snuggled my sweetheart until sunrise.

Friday was hot - a nice sunny, upper sixties day that immediately erased the cold from my body. Jay was hard at work first thing, so I found a warm chair by the pool and read for hours on end as people ebbed and flowed peacefully around me.After a long hard day of work, Jay and I left Palo Alto for dinner at Fisherman's Warf in San Francisco. We had a romantic dinner for two along the windows at Fisherman's Grotto so Jay could fill his belly with lobster and crab cakes. Once dinner was completed, we drove across the bay to play tourists at the Golden Gate bridge. It was spectacular as it glowed in the warm evening lights. A light fog softened the background as a cool wind brought us tighter into each other's arms. It may have been a day late, but it was the most splendid Valentine's celebration ever.
When Saturday's sun broke into our room, Jay was up and running back to the lot to prep the team's TT bikes for the next day's Prologue. I returned to the pool to continue my book and revel in the quiet beating of my heart. The energy was heightened from the previous day, as notable personalities conducted interviews on the deck chairs beside me. Team after team checked in at the lobby and quietly strolled by.
We spent that evening swilling beers with an ever-changing cast of characters. Joey C & Blake entertained their obsessions, exchanging greetings in French with the foreign riders. Mechanics, swannies and volunteers alike filled the bar with laughter and rich stories. Jay and I sat with a group of men from Credit Agricole, where I chatted with the team manager about his travels and family back home.

As the evening waned, the men from Credit Agricole parted, making room for none other than Mario Cippolini as he and his entourage pulled up chairs next to Jay and I. Unfortunately, I took a photo of the pair of them with Jay's camera, so you'll just have to wait and see.

On Sunday morning, the hotel buzzed with energy as riders prepared for the Tour of California Prologue. The sky was cloudy and the wind was crisp as Jay and the crew loaded up the cars and vans with bikes and gear. Some 50,000 people lined the 3 mile TT course and side streets of Palo Alto. When we arrived, Jay went straight to work, as I entertained myself by strolling around town. Without a word, I made my way through the streets, crowds of people, and cyclists readying themselves for the race. Once it began, I made my way to the start house to catch the action.

From O'Grady to Boonen, Hincapie to the retro-Zabriski, I had a front row seat to watch it all! Here were some of my favs....
Mustache rides: $50
Boonen is so much bigger in real life!
Hincapie's stature was so impressive.Ever since Europe, I've gotta soft spot for Stewy!

For the rest of the pro's, check out My Pics!


Kevin said...

What a nice post. Enjoy!

andrew said...

like the photo with mario isn't goin' up on the wall. and you mention it so casually, and 'then mario cipolinni sat next to us'.

Lynne said...

Love the photos, Kristy! I dunno, I just kind of expect them to look like drugged up freaks. But they just look like guys who like to ride, you know? Some of them even look a little nervous.

See ya soon.

(dis)pencer said...

totally jealous.

i wish jay would take me on dates.

..oh, and seeing the races that up close and personal was probably pretty sweet too!