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Old 02-13-09, 07:02 PM   #1
Mojo Slim
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AMGEN Pre-Race Gala

I have an acquaintance at the Sacramento Bee newspaper who was able to get me a seat at their table for the AMGEN Black Tie Optional Gala last night, wherein some dignitaries speak and the teams are introduced (and funds are raised). The tickets were $300 a piece, so a freebie plus a hosted bar was all I needed to hear.

Here is the outside of the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. Many of the teams arrived on the red carpet while I was waiting for my three dates.



I also jumped at the chance to wear my tuxedo, which is a very rare occurance. I had hoped for a James Bond-type vibe. The picture looks more like a geek in a bow tie. Take my word for it, I was smokin'!


Inside, there must have been 6-800 people (most went "optional" on the black tie). Around the edges of the auditorium were many very nice items in a silent auction. What I wanted started at $5000, so I was unable to participate (the four portraits of the Beatles from the White Album --- signed).

Not only was the bar hosted, but there were roving wine pourers who never let glasses get empty. This is good for a red wine drinker like me. Please understand, I drink red wine for the medicinal benefit only. It also makes very nice stains on one's tuxedo shirt when one is bumped by someone in a crowd. The meal was outstanding, with filet mignon as the entree.

Between courses, the teams were introduced by Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett. After some banter on the stage, they filed out through the audience, stopping for autographs and pictures. Here's Floyd, who was very well received.



Tyler Hamilton


George Hincappie with a woman who stopped EVERY name rider for a picture.



Dave Zabriskie and the woman again



Fast Freddie, Tom Bonen and several other name riders were there, but I didn't get pictures. I'm not very good a crawling over people.

Astana, with Lance and Levi were introduced last. Both were very gracious, with Lance suggesting that Levi "is the man", because he has won the race for the last two years. Fearing a mob, I'm sure, they didn't walk though the crowd. I took a picture of them on the big screen, but it ain't the same.

It was a fun evening for me. We all got a bottle of red wine with an AMGEN label on the way out (Did I mention I drink red wine?). Saturday, I have access to the Bee's VIP tent at the prologue. I may go. I will park my truck a couple of miles away and ride my old bike in. There is a "Community Ride" on the course that should be fun. Then the Lifestyle festival, which was good last year. I'll watch a few riders, but probably won't stay to the end.
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Old 02-13-09, 07:41 PM   #2
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Nice.

Err - is AMGEN asking for any gvmtn bail-out or ESP money?
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Old 02-13-09, 08:38 PM   #3
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Very cool!
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Old 02-13-09, 08:47 PM   #4
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Way to go Mojo. Keep the pics coming.
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Old 02-13-09, 09:26 PM   #5
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Omg! It just got better. I now have a pass to the AMGEN VIP tent tomorrow for the Prologue. Fully catered. See the race. Etc. I WILL have more pics.
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Old 02-13-09, 11:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mojo Slim View Post
Omg! It just got better. I now have a pass to the AMGEN VIP tent tomorrow for the Prologue. Fully catered. See the race. Etc. I WILL have more pics.
Try to bear up under the strain, big boy. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Congrats, have fun, get pics.
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Old 02-13-09, 11:36 PM   #7
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Way cool! BTW, you look almost as smokin' as Georgie Hinkey-pee.
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Old 02-13-09, 11:44 PM   #8
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I just realized my evil cable company has moved Versus up to a higher tier. No more TOC and TDF for me unless I come up with more money. I'm really gonna miss the racing.
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Old 02-14-09, 12:05 AM   #9
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Color me green with envy, mojo. Have a great time at the race and take lots of pictures.
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Old 02-14-09, 12:41 AM   #10
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What a cool event to go to Mojo Slim. I got to ride with Team Columbia last Saturday.


Myself with Kim Kirchen before the ride.


Bernhard Eisel


Andre Greipel
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Old 02-14-09, 06:27 AM   #11
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Omg! It just got better. I now have a pass to the AMGEN VIP tent tomorrow for the Prologue. Fully catered. See the race. Etc. I WILL have more pics.
Wow Do you need someone to go with you
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Old 02-14-09, 09:20 AM   #12
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Fantastic-I bet some folks mistook you for one of the riders......
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Old 02-14-09, 09:49 AM   #13
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nice pics. have fun tom, that's an awesome perk!

Chad
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Old 02-14-09, 11:28 AM   #14
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Nice.

Err - is AMGEN asking for any gvmtn bail-out or ESP money?
Well, they weren't...but, um, Slim? How many glasses of wine did they give you last night again?
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Old 02-14-09, 12:07 PM   #15
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Well, they weren't...but, um, Slim? How many glasses of wine did they give you last night again?
I lost count.
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Old 02-14-09, 01:27 PM   #16
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Take it this is the Tour of California.

Tv coverage will be on satellite on Eurosport UK. 90 minutes every night at 10PM so I presume it will be showing the highlights and the finish each day.

I am looking at this as the first real event of the year. The tour downunder was just a prelim to get the riders into gear and the teams working. So every night- I will be going to bed just a bit late.
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Old 02-14-09, 02:17 PM   #17
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My self-esteem is soaring... just browsing amongst such celebrities! Seriously... very cool, thanks.
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Old 02-14-09, 03:14 PM   #18
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Mojo, you scored in a major way! I'm extremely envious!

Especially since I'm going to work this afternoon instead of watching the prologue...

Hope you have a blast!
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Old 02-14-09, 10:43 PM   #19
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OK. Here's the update from today's AMGEN Prologue.

After throwing my old Bianchi Eros in the back of my truck, I headed out for Sacramento, about 35 minutes away. I found parking easily, in a multi-story lot we have used a number of times. One of the highlights of the day was riding my bike down (and back up at the end of the day) the parking structure to street level.

I rode directly to the "Community Ride" and got into the crowd about 15 minutes before the starting time. Everyone was in high spirits. I think I heard an estimate of 500 riders. Here are a couple of pictures on the route. It followed the 2.4 miles of the Prologue route.



There were all sorts of bikes, unicycles, antiques, cruisers, etc.



After the ride, I took my bike to the free valet bike parking, sponsored by two local bike advocacy groups. The parking lots were right on the State Capitol lawn, next to the Life Style Festival and 100 yards from the finish line. Very handy.

It was pretty overcast all day, but the sun came out just long enough for me to snap this shot of the Capitol Bldg.



I then went to the VIP tent (Will Call had my pass) to scope it out. It was about 200 feet long, about 100 feet before the finish line. Free food, including cookies and cup cakes. Free drinks, including Pepsi, water, juice, beer and wine (I DID have a bit of red wine later in the day!). Four large screen TVs showing a news feed of the riders. Jelly Belly Sport Beans were everywhere. I grabbed a few bags.

After eating a bit, I went to the festival, still only a couple of hundred feet away. All kinds of schwag was available. It is amazing how people will line up for anything free. There must have been 50 people in line for a free cup of Herbalife Drink. I filled my back pack with the usual pencils, waterbottles, blinkie light, etc. Hint: At the tent representing your brand of bicycle, mention that you ride said brand. I got a little decal at the Giant tent, then mentioned that I had a Giant MTB and OCR. She reached below the counter and gave me one of those back bag carriers with "GIANT" on it. The real score was a VERY NICE back pack from a local bike shop. I had received a coupon in the e-mail to show them to get it.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of unnamed racers. Finding a good spot on the course was difficult. I walked around the entire circuit. I almost got trapped on the far side of the street, but a nice volunteer let me cross between riders.







I hadn't planned on staying for all the racers, but it got exciting. A couple of the early riders had set a standard at about 4:36. Everyone else was in the 4:45-5:00. All afternoon. Then the heavy hitters came last. Zabriskie, Van de Veld, Hincapie, Armstrong, Landis and finally Liepheimer. Each one was in the 4:32-4:37 range. Armstrong was about 4 seconds off the lead, which was pretty good.

Here's Levi. A bit blurred. All the other shots were worse.



You can see that the crowd is really into it. The annnouncers said over and over again how great the crowd was and suggested it rivaled anything (short of the TDF) in Europe.

I was able to get my bike quickly, rode back to my truck, had a good Rocky Patel cigar on the drive home and have declared it a good day, a very good day.
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Old 02-14-09, 11:01 PM   #20
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Very cool event.

I've always felt that tuxedos make you look like a head waiter. I never wear them unless I need to.

But it sounds like that event and the food was a pretty good bribe.
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Old 02-15-09, 06:04 AM   #21
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Thanks for the pics and the rundown!! That is really terrific having that sort of event in your backyard.
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Old 02-15-09, 06:42 AM   #22
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Wow. Roving wine pourers, the gods of cycling and hosted Phil Ligget, Paul Sherwen. That's a race fan's heaven. BTW, I am an actual friend of Phil Liggett. Well a Facebook friend. if you have a Facebook account, Phil Liggett WILL friend you if you ask him to. He's got about 4,000 FB friends.
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Old 02-15-09, 11:53 AM   #23
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That's a fine camera that your getting good with Mojo... Nice pictures.
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Old 02-15-09, 01:22 PM   #24
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That's a fine camera that your getting good with Mojo... Nice pictures.
Thanks. Actually, most of the better shots I got are on my little pocket Casio. I took my older camera for the 10X zoom, but it's only 2 mps, and the shutter is slow. I sure would love to have one of them fancy Digital SLRs. I spent a little time after retirement working at a little newspaper, fixing the photos for publication. I learned that cropping a photo may be the most important adjustment one can make.
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Old 02-15-09, 01:51 PM   #25
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I was able to get my bike quickly, rode back to my truck, had a good Rocky Patel cigar on the drive home and have declared it a good day, a very good day.
Indeed. A dream day for the denizens of 50+. You represented us well.

Thanks for story and good pics!
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