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Palomar, shalomar

That is Palomar? You call that a mountain? ha. meh. piece of cake...

Park, suit up, check tires, put warm clothes, food, and Asian midget into my backpack (just kidding, she was actually native American), hop on bike and pedal.... steep road... ouch.... pedal, pedal, pant, pant, pant... sweat, sweat, drink, eat, drink, eat...  what? I'm only half way? seriously?... ok, time to concentrate... pedal, pedal, pedal... elevation 3000 feet sign! victory is mine!... wait, I thought this mountain was only 3000 feet tall? It's 5000 feet tall? oh... crap... pedal, pedal, drink, wave at the fans, try to catch football thrown by drunken tifosi while pedaling uphill riding with no hands on a 7% grade... SUCCESS!... now try to throw football back to drunken tifosi... uh, not much of a ball sports guy really... ahem... pedal, pedal... take some pictures... smile at the fans... is that snow? why yes, that is snow... ride over some yellow Lance chalk... more Lance chalk... and still more Lance chalk... finally, a Jens! sign and a Flanders flag... turn a corner, look up the mountain and see many switchback still ahead... grit teeth, dig deep, attack!... not really... pedal, pedal, drink, eat, pedal, wave, sweat... elevation 4000 feet sign... guy wearing huge afro wig... cars parked everywhere... crowd getting thicker... weaving in and out of spectators... is that guy wearing green sequined hot pants? Why yes he is (is that Sui? Nope. Sui's hair was longer)... see antler guy, giant elf, a mexican wrestler, a viking, the pope?... pedal... reach KOM... pedal a little more to the true summit.... stop... deep breath... tweet my acomplishment (5329 ft. 11.4 miles. Avg speed 7.1 mph. 1:35 total ride time from base).. feel generally studly until someone tells me that they pros will do it in 45 minutes easy.... grab a $2 coffee, then a $3 beer, put on warm clothing and pick a spot to await the madness...

Thanks to Nikki, I had an idea that there was a break off the front with Jens! attacking from the peloton, but not much more. We could see the riders a mile and a few hundred feet in elevation below, and they were up to us in no time. Jens! was in front with his Jens!-will-hurt-you face on, with Levi close behind. The enormous crowd was going absolutely batshit nuts, screaming, hollering... The crazy fans running by, motos, team cars, cowbells, and pandemonium. It was totally fucking awesome. Some of the riders had pain faces like I have never seen. True suffering. Very impressive stuff. It was all a blur as to who and when, but I did notice that Fast Freddie was Last Freddie that day. But he was doing it. Chapeau... Once the broom wagon passed, I hoped on my bike and joined a few hundred other people for the descent. That was sweet. In no time I was back down at the intersection of highway 76 and East Grade Road waiting for the race. 10 minutes or so later, they came flying by with someone from Rock Racing off the front. But no Freddie. I still haven't watched the race, so I have no idea what happened really, except for who won, but it was still fun, fun, fun to see in person.

After attending multiple finishes of the ToC over the past few years, seeing numerous starts, one TT, three prologues, the inside of several VIP tents, the phtog scrum, and a whole lot more, standing on that mountain top, 50 meters from the KOM, after having rode up there using my own two legs? Now that was hands down the best of all... by a freaking mile. Jimbo's advice is that if you ever get the chance to watch a big climb, go for it. Do not hesitate.I can only imagine what Alpe d'Huez is like. Wow...

Here are some photos and one short video...

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