Article and photos by Cathy Mehl
Anticipation…for the Tour de Georgia. Months ago when I checked my work
calendar and realized that my “real” occupation as the general manager of a
winery was going to take me east very close to the dates of the Tour de Georgia,
I started entertaining the notion of attending the race. I’d long wanted to see
a professional race with Division One teams, but knew the possibility of
traveling to Europe to do this was pretty slim. However, GEORGIA…well, well,
well, I might be able to make that happen!
So how could I best attend this race? Should I volunteer to be a road
marshall? Sounded a little boring, with hours of standing around, maybe alone.
Photography was out, I certainly was no photographer. Journalism was
interesting, but I didn’t have a clue how to cover a race, and really only
minimal cycling knowledge.What could I offer to someone involved with the race
to secure an “insider” position? How could I be part of the action and fulfill
a dream of following a bike race?
I never thought I’d say this, but Thank Goodness for Solvang, California!
Solvang is a cheesy little tourist town, which happens to be 3 miles from my
office in the Santa Ynez Valley, and HAPPENS to be the location for two years
running of USPS winter training camps. In 2003 I’d hung out behind the hotel
snapping pictures; I’d waited outside the dining room to stalk Lance and get an
autograph; I’d been given a hat by Tony Cruz…
In 2004 I emailed the Daily Peloton to ask if they wanted any help covering
the press conference and, lo and behold, they did, so I got my first up close
and personal experience at a real-live cycling press conference and had the
opportunity to snap photos of all those lovely men and transcribe the words of
The Lance. It was a kick. So I volunteered to do the same at Tour de Georgia
since I’d be in that neck of the woods, and now here I sit, poised to provide
some entertaining info for the DP readers.
Do I actually know what I’m doing? Not really. Am I thrilled beyond belief
to be doing it? Absolutely! And I promise to do my best to bring you plenty of
pictures and as much scoop as I can scrape up. Feel free to post your interview
and picture requests on the message board and I’ll see what I can come up with.
I am certainly no professional, but I am a fan, and I’ll try to present that
special point of view throughout the race.
Here is my first photo entry, one of a CSC rider. Who is that? Hmmm, oh
yeah, he’s my son, riding in the Santa Barbara hills so I can practice with my
new Nikon! A picture of your kid on a mountain bike, wearing a full-face helmet
protecting that orthodontic investment: priceless!
Two press conferences and meet the teams happen Monday. I will be there!
Wish me luck, and be nice to me on the message board!
P.S. Email from race organizers the other day concerned hooking us up to
take pictures from a motorcycle! Yikes!
Editor's Note: Cathy has arrived, and here is just a teaser of whom she
Click for larger image