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.
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.