Friday, February 20, 2009

Solvang TT Pictures

The vibe in Solvang was great. Thousands and thousands of fans, cheering these world class bike racers. Like Rock Stars. We wandered around soaking it up. Then I noticed this guy, the one on the right of the picture with white curly hair. Odds are you don't know who this is unless you've been around cycling for a very long time (or you live in San Diego).

I wonder what he thinks about all this. That's John Howard. He was the best bike racer in the US from the late 1960's to the mid 1970's. A three-time Olympian, four times US Road Champion, and one of the first Hawaii Ironman winners. But even in his prime, he would walk the streets in total anonymity. Nobody knew about bike racing back then. He was the best in the US, yet he barely eeked out a subsistence living racing his bike, sleeping on floors in dorms and youth hostels. Did he ever think his sport would get to this place, where thousands of fans would line a California street to watch a time trial?!

...or that a mass of humanity would crowd around a team bus as if Bon Jovi was inside?!

This sport has come a long way since I first started.

I brought my camera. First set of pictures is of the local amateur riders doing the same TT as the pros (pics of them further down). Each rider raised (or was sponsored) $1,000 to support the event and its causes. Fun to see how the amateur times measure up.

Mike Hecker starts. Mike lives near Solvang and has been leading a popular group ride up there. He raced road twenty years ago and is getting back into it.

Cookie LOVES time trials and jumped at the opportunity to ride, thanks to the generous sponsorship from Platinum Performance.

Gary D'Velo is going to win the 30+ National TT Championships this year. He decided to warm up with the Tour of California TT. He rocked a 33:47 time, which would have slotted him in at 72nd place in the Pros, just ahead of Tom Boonen.

Blingerman did the event for the second year in a row. did Matt "Chicken Ranch" Benko, a clear favorite of announcer Dave Towle!

...and just a few minutes later, they were back!

Platinum boys went really fast.

Picture by Goodman Graphic

Mikey flying in.

Blinger was too fast for me to get the right exposure.

Matt powers through the final 300 meters.

Kisses on the podium! Gary wins, Cookie 2nd, Brent Kay 3rd. Congrats all!
credit: Steve D'Velo, Gary's Dad ...or... Todd Booth?


Now some pictures of the GC contenders and a few others...

Some kooky fans on the hill...

Especially these crazy fanatics...

BJM rides by thinking, "Hey, I remember those guys... I can't wait 'til I retire and sit around watching bike races!"

Oscar Sevilla looks like a little kid.


Chris Horner is one of my favorite riders.

I'm not much of a photographer, and the crowd went crazy when Lance came up the hill. Somehow my one shot was not blocked and I got a decent picture for once. I used the flash, which was a tip given to me by Mark Johnson, whose awesome pictures can be seen on and elsewhere on the internet.

DZ is also one of my favorite riders.

What is inside Michael Rogers' skinsuit?

Last to start, Levi...

By the time we walked across Solvang to the final km flame rouge (sp?) they were already back...

For the record, Levi won.


Drea said...

Nice write up! I think I saw you bike by on the course in your platinum gear? I was in my minivan with kicking kids wishing I could have been riding the course as well. It's hard to observe this sport with little I love your shots!

Fanch said...

I'll help with the spelling...

Flamme rouge ;-)

Nice pictures.

djflanigan said...

Thans for the great photos and for the amateur results which were not posted in our local SB News Press.

Marco Fanelli said...

Not me riding up at the TT. Quite the opposite, I drove up and indulged in some tasty aebleskivers instead. Lots of my teammates out riding though.

Thanks. I knew it looked wrong but was too lazy to pursue proper spelling.

Don (yes?)-
Hopefully the full results will be posted somewhere eventually.

Anonymous said...


You dated yourself when you used Bon Jovi as your reference for a rock star.

But hey, I loved the 80's too!

Great pictures. I love how you include the historical flashbacks in your posts. Good stuff.


Chicken Ranch

Marco Fanelli said...

Oh Matt, it's much worse than that. I'm a child of the 70's ...Tom Petty, The Pretenders, The Police, The Clash,... and before that, Yes and the Grateful Dead. The Commodores and Earth, Wind, and Fire...

What really cracks me up though, is that my oh-so-cool teenage daughter is getting into 70's retro music now. She's not alone either. Pretty funny because I remember the 70's being bashed as a wasted musical decade.

Anonymous said...

Just getting around to checking your Solvang report. Good stuff. Hilarious Rogers comment. Dude either has the worlds largest lungs or...well...there's a simple power-to-weight ratio explanation as to why he couldn't hang with Levi on Bonny Doon.

As for music, I'd say each era has some quality music. The primary problem with 70s was that in the latter 70s disco and polyester (the bad kind) hit town and it took the New York, London and LA punks to set things right again. And once that happened a whole lot of sins were forgiven or forgotten. My two cents.

Kim McD