The View From Behind: Pontifications From the Passenger Seat

Taking in the the view from behind at the Amgen Tour of California Stage 6 Time Trial

Words and Photos || Kevin Rouse

It was engrossing really. Or, maybe just gross, depending on how you look at it. Regardless, at that moment I’d never before been so captivated by the view of a dude’s Lycra-clad ass—or any dude’s ass (in any state of accoutrement) for that matter. Hell, not even my own ass gets that much of my attention, even after a particularly horrific week on the scale.

One might tack it up to the absurdly bright green of the Cannondale Pro Cycling kit, but it may have had more to do with the fact that I was in the passenger seat of Kristijan Koren’s follow car, flying over the very same roads where I experienced my first mainline high on cycling as a teenager.

Dream come true? Definitely.

Humbling? Incredibly so.

Different than expected? You bet your (probably less captivating) ass.

Lacking the foreign cursing and race-radio chatter (which invariably consists of more foreign cursing) my team car expectations thus far appeared to be massively glorified, as, at present, I was giving course insight to the two Southern California Cannondale sales reps tasked with keeping a watchful eye on Kristijan.

While obviously not the norm, there are only so many sport directors, and on a point-to-point time trial course, logistics tend to get a tad complicated.

Enter Mark and Mike.

Instead of radio chatter and unintelligible yelling, we all shared in the nervousness of it being our first time in a team car, which, in this case, was Mark’s new Ford Explorer. Move over Škoda, this is Ford country—or something like that.

And, unfortunately for us (obviously not for him), Kristijan was kinda good at this whole racing against the clock thing.

Passing his 30-second man much sooner than expected, suddenly we were faced with a conundrum—what’s proper protocol for passing the other follow car and rider? After a judging look from the the Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies driver we surmised ‘proper protocol’ didn’t exactly entail what we had just done. Oh well, no harm no foul, right?

As Krisitjan, 2007 Slovenian national TT champion, proceeded to pass several more riders, our nervousness was replaced with incredulity—and ear-to-ear grins as we left a bit off rubber on the descent down Willow Springs Rd.

Settling into the routine, I described the torture device that also goes by the name of Metcalf Road to Mike and Mark. Part of the local “Low-Key” hill-climb series, the Metcalf Mauler’s inclines prompt organizers to offer the following advice: “If your ride doesn’t end in cerebral apoplexy you weren’t trying.”

Fortunately, all apoplexy was avoided—save for our faithful chariot. Bested by the legs and lungs of Koren, the Explorer gave us a scare as it started to shudder just a hundred yards from the summit. As Kristijan began his kick to the line, our steed seemed as if it were about to kick the bucket. Suffering from a severe case of overheating, we limped to the team car diversion point, contemplating what it would be like to drastically disrupt an entire stage of the Tour of California.

With Koren already headed back to the start and Mike and Mark beginning the search for some water to help cool the engine, I began the search for what defines the “standard team car experience.” After some serious thought, I was forced to simply settle with taking an extremely loose interpretation of the definition of ‘standard’.

So, the lesson of the day?

Anything can happen—we most certainly proved it.

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