Traveling is a big part of road bike racing, especially for the multi-day events, and you often meet the most interesting people along the way. The day before the start of the Amgen Tour of California, I was sitting in one the many plush chairs in the lobby of the team hotel. Seated to my left and also enjoying the people watching opportunities at a team hotel was Thomas Heaney of Greenville, South Carolina. He was not so much people watching as I was, but waiting for his son to arrive. We started chatting and swapping stories. This semi-retired chef is a fan of the sport and will be following the race from start to finish. Heaney is not a racer himself but was actually introduced to the sport later in life. A friend took him to a race and explained the dynamics of bike racing often missed by the casual observer. From then on he was hooked. As we sat there he told me stories of taking his son, Briggs, to all the big races on the East coast, from Philadelphia and north into Canada. He showed me photos he had taken at international events form the World Championships to the US Pro road race championships when it was held in Philadelphia.
His excitement and passion for the sport is contagious and I leaned in closer to him as he told me stories of meeting riders from Lance Armstrong to Fabian Cancellara. As race staff walked through the lobby, they all came over to say hello to Thomas. He is well known within the cycling staff circles and after spending an hour with him I know why. Thomas is a genuine person who loves this sport. His passion for cycling was passed on to his son Briggs who works at the Amgen Tour of California and also has his own website, Europeloton.com which is focused on European racing. I recommend adding it to your list of favorite website pages.
After more than an hour of talking we parted ways. I expect to run into more fans like Thomas at this epic bike race. We wouldn’t miss it.