Last night, after eating an entire half chicken, an avocado salad, half a white onion, a plate of white rice, a bowl of beans and two orders of plátanos from Versailles, a decaf venti americano from the Starbucks on Robinson and Pico, and after six hours of blogging in my internet suit, a shower, some lite flossing, a game of iPhone chess (level 950), and a melatonin from my suitcase, I went to sleep for four hours before waking up in a hotel room in Pasadena next to Kyle, who was there when I went to sleep, and Rebecca, who was not, who was new, and so then we were three, which three of us went immediately to Starbucks #1 on Fair Oaks. Feeling rough. Planning ahead. I order one coffee plus a replacement should the first break. And a banana. I’m wearing pants because the weather in Southern California in the morning is misleading. The only interesting things about the start are the very active train tracks running through the center of it and a conversation with Nathan Hass about Bernie Sanders.“We drive through the Rose Bowl, everyone is a lady, and every lady has a dog.”MFS
We drive up the mountain on the 2 into denser fog. At the first KOM we stop. Sam, Ian, an interesting interaction with a CHP brü, Yanko!!!!!!, a conversation about skateboarding, catching up with the Raging Stag, the race comes past, break. The course does a loop, they go left we go right. We drive to the second KOM then leave because it’s boring. We head back the way we came to a turn-out, then another, then another, then another, then back to the second one, then back to the first one, then turn around and onto the next one, the fifth one, then back to the third one, the one with a dude sleeping in it. It’s sunny now. Wait for the race. It comes. I photograph it. In the process I can’t be sure but it looks like Taylor Phinney is looking down on me. Surf the back of the race to the completion of the loop. The race goes right, through Angeles Crest, we go left, back down the front of the mountains into the back of Pasadena. Surf CHP on the 210 the whole way to Santa Clarita. Rolling escort, weird. Hazards on. Traffic. Park. This morning’s banana is thin, real thin. Buy a coffee, discover my flash is broken, feel persecuted, send texts, make calls, deal with this personal low point, waning PMA related to flash, find Sam, swap flashes for his superior unit (DUDE, THANKS), Ben rounds the corner at my feet in front of the whole entire race, because he won it.
It’s hard to explain but I’ll try. Everyone in every direction is beyond excited for Ben. Everyone in the race, everyone watching the race, everyone working the race is ecstatic. There is much hugging and kissing and, I suspect, crying. The mood is jubilant exactly like when the Galaxy celebrates on Endor: Luke is reunited with this companions Han, Lando, the droids, Chewbacca, the surviving Rebel fleet, the Ewoks, and his siser Leia. In fact, I was able to photograph the spirits of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and a redeemed Anakin Skywalker as they gathered around Ben and escorted him from the Podium Zone to the Press Conference. Listen, all joking aside, the world loves Ben because Ben.
I hugged Ben for me. For you. For everyone. We shared smiles. I asked him how he did that, I reminded him that breaks don’t stay out, like, they just don’t. It’s not how racing works, so like, umm, dude, wow, how!?“I dont know, I mean that's not supposed to happen but it did.”Ben King
BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING BEN KING
We really love Ben King. If you buy a Surprise Me! Kit (designed by Yoko Honda), we’ll love you too. Probably not as much as we love Ben King, but love nonetheless. More info HERE, or click below to shop!
Hey, it may not seem like a lot, I mean in the grand scheme of things what’s seven minutes?, it’s not even a blink of a galactic eye. But if you’re me and my job is to take photos of professional bike racing and professional bike racing is happening right next to me, spending seven whole minutes trying to take a selfie where my head appears to be birthing out of a life-size spread-legged Peter Sagan might not appear to be a good use of my time. But appearances are bullshit. I loved using that time.
Going to Whole Foods for dinner.
The whole team peeing off a scenic lookout in the Angeles Mountains. And NOT peeing on to a rattlesnake.
Getting in a car duel with the course marshals during the descent from KOM 2
The Whole Foods hot bar.
Manual for Speed has been commissioned to introduce a new race classification category called “Most Animal.” Points for the classification will be awarded on the basis of style, swagger, and grit. We’ve assembled an elite group of expert analysts who will be assessing and assigning points for performance. The most animal jersey for ATOK will be awarded at the end of the race.
BEN KING: 9 pts
In the break, hamming it up for the camera, smiling and throwing peace signs before winning the stage, all after an insane injury early in the season while training.
CANNONDALE TEAM CAR: 3 pts
Making riders give back their empties. Not necessarily animal, but interesting. Likely because their bottles are all in Europe.
VASIL KIRIYENKA: 5 pts
Crashed on the descent, looked straight up loopy and unbalanced (like he was about to start walking around in circles), sat up on the hood of a car, took his sweet ol’ time, got back on the bike and was back to the peloton in like two minutes.
Standings After Stage 02
- Ben King: 9 points
- Wouter Wippert: 7 points
- Vasil Kiriyenka: 5 points
- Oscar Clark: 4 points
- Cannondale Team Car: 3 points