My Plaid Thermos: Southern hospitality and races – Qatar, Mallorca and Boulevard
Other than dealing with the weather, the move from southern California to Greenville, South Carolina has been an easy transition. You always hear about Southern hospitality and I had witnessed it a few times at the Tour de Georgia assuming they were being nice to me because I was a journalist covering their event. However as a new Greenville resident the southern hospitality continues. In the short amount of time that I’ve lived here I have met so many great people and I’ll continue to try and learn everyone’s name. That said, I do miss my friends I have back in SoCal and they always have an open invitation to visit to get in top secret training miles.
After a lull in the action there are actually two races I care about starting this Sunday: the Mallorca Challenge and the Tour of Qatar. The Mallorca Challenge was one of the first big European stage races (yeah I know it’s technically not a stage race) I attended and got to see the mayhem of professional bike racing up close. I also like the Tour of Qatar as that part of the planet is so foreign to what our western life is like. I spoke to Tony Cruz yesterday about that race and he said it was just so different to anything he had ever seen. He told me that guys over there stroll around with falcons on their shoulders like they’re walking a dog. Cruz has had first hand experience competing there and described the racing as brutal. Qatar has three roads to race on, which are flat as a board, with crazy crosswinds that decimates the field. These winds throw the riders into echelons where the slightest twitch of the rear wheel in front of them get the rider tossed into a sand dune. This race always guarantees someone will end up with a broken collar bone.
If you’re looking for the next Floyd Landis sighting I recommend heading down to the sleepy town of Boulevard in San Diego county. Boulevard hosts the annual Boulevard road race, the unofficial kick off to the racing in SoCal. In the past that race has had everything from blazing heat to snow as well as pros looking to jump start their season. I’ve been promised more Floyd Landis and Wolfman videos as well, so keep your fingers crossed.