Flagstaff

Let's talk about rarities.

It's rare that an individual discovers his passion at five years old; it's also rare that an individual follows that passion through high school, against great odds and bias.

It's rare for an individual to love a thing, a sport, and a place so much, and yet wait 36 years for him to finally call that place home.

I've done those things, and yesterday was a validation of all of it.

Yesterday, Brenda & I volunteered for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. First off, let me say it was all Brenda's idea, and mad props to her because I never would have volunteered otherwise, and may have skipped the event altogether, save to watch the peloton roll by our neighborhood along South Broadway.

Instead, we immersed ourselves in the event, volunteering as group leaders at Realization Point, one kilometer from the finish line on what was really a historic stage (strategically and politically) in this young stage race.

Our involvement on race day instead required a 6AM check-in at race HQ, to pick up our race radio, our volunteer t-shirts, and our breakfast burritos. Then, a short drive to the Boulder Public Library to catch the shuttle to the mountain with all the other volunteers. By 7AM, we were at Realization Point, with water and food and wristbands, 1K from the finishing line (as Phil Liggett would call it), and a task at hand that would not really materialize for hours.

In short order, we met our co-volunteers, some of whom had actually pedaled their asses up the mountain. All were cool.

We spent the day, from 7AM to 4PM, making sure people had wristbands -- that indicated they knew the rules of the mountain -- and had properly stowed their bikes. In fact, yours truly was tasked at one point with walking down the mountain and asking people to unchain their bikes from any and all trees and laying them down on the ground -- you know, to protect the bark.

Anyone who knows me will find this detail laughable, but I happily complied, because I recognized the huge faith the Boulder Open Space folks put in this race -- that this would not destroy the pristine mountain that is Flagstaff. You should have seen me.

Eventually, everyone was there, and all there was to do was wait for the guys. We volunteers had staked out a spot right at the turn for the 1K banner, and I was sporting my 'Cutters' t-shirt. We screamed.

After all that, it was time to head down the mountain, along with all 35,000 fans, the pros, and the caravan. Yeah, after nine hours of standing, and walking, and directing, and tree hugging, it was time for a hike. Brenda & I and Dean -- one of the vols we worked with -- walked down the mountain along with the rest of the folks that had hiked or biked (or raced) up the mountain.

Four miles later, we were back in town, dropped off our shit, and headed to Pearl Street to drop off our race radio and take in the post-race party. Our friends' band was playing at the podium bandshell, and my 'Cutters' shirt got shouts from the rooftop of Vecchio's.

We went home and watched the stage on the DVR, and thrilled to the sights of the pro peloton speeding past so many local landmarks that Brenda & I love. We bristled at the abundance of spectators on Flagstaff Mountain, and their enthusiasm.

Boulder Colorado is a cycling Mecca; I'm not saying anything new, but I just wanted to say thanks to my adopted hometown.

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