It was just barely more than a year since I took on cycling as a panacea to running boredom. Then I got myself slowly and confusingly acquainted with everything biking from its different types – roadie, mtb, foldie, fixie, downhill, xc; the different parts making up one like crank, frame, handle bar, etc.; the different tubes of a frame – seat tube, down tube; major foreign sounding brands like Shimano, Campagnolo, etc.
I had an overload of cycling lingo to brush on not to mention the different major international stage and one day races which were in themselves an entirely different universe altogether. However, I have to start somewhere and naturally it would be the most popular and prestigious of them all, the Tour de France. I cannot fathom the intricacies of this seeming barbaric exercise. Much more the different jerseys associated with what winner including the funny looking polka dot one! After several confused daze in front of the tv watching highlights of each of the 3 week stages, I can say that I am more than initiated to this very exciting and aggressive sport.
So it is of great pleasure for me to meet one of the sport’s great sprinter, Robbie “Rocket” McEwen at the press launch for his participation in BGC Cycling Philippines as its ambassador. And why not? Thus will be my chance to see a three times TDF green jersey winner, an opportunity that may never happen again.
I arrived at Seda, BGC an hour late with the door directly beside the platform where the primary speakers of the press conference were seated and many invited and uninvited people crowding it. So I decided to register myself first and after more than 30 minutes of queuing for my turn to receive my race packet and choose my Rudy Project sun glasses. I then proceeded to the room, inching my way among a crowd of video and photo camera wielding media people towards the familiar group of running bloggers huddled at one side at the back.
Right in the center of the group seated in the platform is Robbie himself in the flesh. Beside him are Fred Uytengsu of Sunrise Events and Alaska Milk Corp., the event organizer and franchise owner; Chris Robb, managing director of Spectrum Worldwide, owner of Cycle Asia, and petit but oh so charismatic Karen Crisostomo, President of the Firefly Brigade, the major beneficiary of this breakthrough cycling event in the country. I barely caught the last portion of the program that pertains to some details of the Sunday’s event and the ongoing auction for Robbie’s green jersey for the benefit of typhoon Yolanda’s victims. Then some question and answer ensued.
I tried my very best to have my picture taken with Robbie and when I see a runner friend Justin of Running Photographers present, I immediately asked permission for the sprinter and now one of the coaches of Orica Greenedge for some souvenir photos with me. He was very accommodating and warm despite the seeming jetlag he is trying to brush off.
The door then shut close and since I thought we were still in the media coverage part of the program, decided to stay on for some more minutes despite seeing my other blog mates going for the door. Then Mr. Robb proceeded to “pick” Mr. McEwen’s brain bringing him to a time in his career, specifically stage 1 at the 2007 Tour de France, if where he is and what happened to him. He recounted such unforgettable event in his career of more than two decades that made me realize the kind of cyclist he is and thought to myself that in order to be a 3-time Points Classification winner of this prestigious tour like Robbie was, one should possess. He recounted that 20 kms to go of this 203 km stage, some tire kissing happened which saw him skidding the historic pavement of Canterbury, England. Despite this accident and the wrist injury he got as a result, he managed to win the race with less than a bike’s length to the next sprinter, Thor Hushovd that a photo finish was needed. He humbly credited his teammates bringing him to the leading peloton mashing the pedals at 70 km/h after almost covering 200 kms and with less than 5Ks to go. Talk about team dedication! However, without the steel resolve and the fighting spirit of this man, I believe, no strong team can manage such feat from their sprinter.
Not wanting to prolong this good fortune, I followed the waiter to the door, exited this closed-door, intimate meet-and-greet supposedly for the registrants of Ride with Robbie that I inadvertently gate crushed. With a smile on my face and two-loot bags worth of goodies plus the brand new, white-and-green Zuma Rudy Project helmet I won at the BGC Cycle Phils. Facebook fan page contest in tow, I called it a fabulous day indeed!
Photos courtesy of BGC Cycle Phils.