In our family, we all have our favorite cyclists. Mine has always been George Hincapie. (Go ahead, take a moment and check him out.) He has been in the Tour de France fourteen times, most of those times as Lance Armstrong’s main dude. He’s the guy who helped make it happen for Lance. He demonstrated year, after year, the power of the peloton, the honor of being a domestique. And I related, because I relate being a domestique to my life as a mom, and as a project manager. In a good way….the honor of helping others reach their goals, of getting the bad guys out of the way (or at least wearing them down) and making sure that water is always available. Metaphorically speaking…you know what I mean. George is his own leader now, and wins enough to make us happy.
A year ago, when the Amgen Tour of California was in Sacramento and Davis, I saw George ride in person for the first time. At the time trials, he rode right by me as he was warming up, and I did the sophisticated thing and yelled, “George, we love you.” Alex was horrified, and I admit, I was even a little embarrassed for myself….but it was the right sentiment for the moment.
Saturday night I had a chance to really tell him how I felt. I knew he’d be at the reception for the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. I had been preparing my speech all week…in the shower, in the car, and yes, in the mirror. This is how it went:
“George, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Our family has watched and cheered for you for years. You have always represented the power of the peloton and the true meaning of teamwork. However, we all agree you look better in yellow.”
(for you non cycling fans, that means he is the winner of the tour..the yellow jersey and all that)
Nice, eh? I knew there was a good chance I would mess up, and only remember part of the speech. But I knew that any part of that speech would be good and fine and perhaps even charming. I was ready to go.
So the reception happened, and it was lovely and fun, and I sort of forgot that he was even coming. I was standing by the wine and beer, with an old friend, and then I saw him.
The rest of the room (full of old men in polo shirts and cotton plaid) faded and in walked a Greek god with a dark blue sport coat. Not one gray hair. Perfect skin. He walked straight towards me with anticipation (yes, I know it was the beer behind me, but let me have my moment, ok?). Diane introduced him to me.
“George, I’d like you to meet Kim Tackett.”
He shook my hand. His hand was soft. Really soft. The rest of the room was still in a blur.
I heard a voice. It sounded like it could have been mine.
“Hi George. You might recognize me. I am the one who yelled ‘I love you’ at the time trials last year.”
Crap. That WAS my voice. He shook his head, removed his hand and asked Diane about the beer.
I can’t believe I did that. Well, I kind of can believe I did it.
When I told Alex, she comforted me by saying that she was certain other people embarrass themselves with him everyday, maybe even more. When I told Kate, she told me he would probably never come to Davis again. I am going with Alex on this one.