The Nature Valley Grand Prix has come to Minnesota. This is one race that I wait for all year because the pros are right there, walking amongst us mere mortals.
The first stage was a short, 4.5 mile out-and-back time trial along the Mississippi River in Saint Paul. The morning dawned rainy and wet, I was quite glad I packed my rain jacket and a cap when I rolled up to the volunteer sign-in.
They put me on the straightaway in the middle of the course where a bike path crossed the road. My job was to raise my flag and blow my whistle whenever a rider came by, thus stopping any riders on the bike path from crossing the road during the race.
These racers were moving fast and I mean fast. Zoom! There went one rider down the course. Zoom! There went the rider before her/him coming back up the road.
There were some patches of the course that were sketchy with rough pavement, thanks to our Minnesota winters, but everyone got through okay and there were no crashes.
The problem with being on the straightaway was the road was only two lanes wide, one out and one back with little to no shoulder. So I had to keep my head on a swivel so I would know when someone was coming from either or both directions.
I did recognize a couple riders as they rode by: Kristin Armstrong is the defending champ of this race, so she was the last of the women to ride the course. She was also the only rider with the distinctive "e" on the shoulders of her Cervelo TestTeam jersey.
Floyd Landis, who is riding for Team OUCH is wearing number 4 for this race and working for Rory Sutherland, the defending men's champ. Yep, that's Floyd zipping by on his TT run.
This is going to be a fun week!
Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.