1992 Stage 14 Alpe d’Huez: Edmond Hood
Johnny and I drove up the night before, the roof was off the car and the smell of barbecues filled the air as we tooted, waved and smiled our way to the top. There was a party going on from hairpin one to 21 – ghetto blasters, guitars, beer, wine, laughter, bikinis – and those barbies.
We got what must have been the last hotel room in town, tracked down a pizza then settled down on the verandah of our room with a case of beers. It was a hunters’ moon and the snow on the peaks across the valley was magnificent under a sky heavy with stars. Shooting stars flashed above us and we had the best of sleeps that night in the sweet, clean, cool mountain air.
The next day it was hot, damn hot as we found our spot just before the red kite. There were no barriers, the crowd was immense and the expectation palpable. Journo’s cars – little did I know that I would be aboard one 15 years later – photog bikes, gendarmes and team cars whizzed past.
Then there was a pause and below us in the valley, the helicopter rotors hacked at the warm air. The lead car passed and we spilled out onto the tarmac. The gendarme motorbikes brushed us back but as one organism we were right back on the parcours, eyes straining down the grade.
All you could see was people, craning, screaming, waving, pushing – it was madness. The sea parted and there he was, an image flashed onto my memory forever – Andy Hampsten during arguably his finest hour.
So slim, so young, so stylish, on the tops, arms bent staring straight ahead, the sweat glistening on his face and arms, legs flowing with the ease that only the real Mountain Kings can conjure. He was oblivious to the mayhem he was causing; he had the rhythm, he had the focus and he had the gap – L’Alpe belonged to the man who came from those other mountains in Colorado, half the world away.
As fast as he’d appeared, he was gone. Behind him the race director was standing on the front seat of the car, torso out of the sun roof, screaming, waving – as if we’d take notice. The chasing group was riding tempo, they knew that the day’s glory had been stolen.
Indurain, imperious, the yellow jersey glowing as if internally lit. Robert Millar, our wee man from Glasgow right there with the Kings of cycle sport – it was hard not to get emotional. But the day was all about one man. Up until that afternoon, I’d never really been an Andy Hampsten devotee – but he gave me a special memory that day.
Ok, I’ve been dragging my feet on this but let’s get serious here: we have an event planned, all are invited, and it involves riding on a variety of surfaces – including plenty of gravel and dirt – as well as a long/cold/damp tunnel. We’re calling it “Trofeo Strada Bianca”, it starts at 9am from North Bend, WA, (Park and Ride, exit 31) on July 14th, and we’ll ride about 60 miles with 2000 feet of mostly gradual elevation gain.
We’ll have a light lunch (provided, probably) at Hyack, the half-way point, before entering the cold/damp/dark tunnel and hat/gloves/jacket/legwarmers and lights are strongly recommended for this portion. We can carry your clothing and lights to the start of the tunnel but you’ll need to get them back to the finish of the ride.
Please register here on our Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/events/657617827600927/ – and feel free to drag friends along. We’d like to have an idea of how many are coming so we can buy enough FREE FOOD to go around. This is not a race, 27 to 35mm tires strongly recommended, there may be a waiver to sign, and post-ride libations will be imbibed at the Pour House in North Bend. See you there!
Hampsten Cycles & 333fab are taking advantage of Pioneer Square’s First Thursday Art Scene and will be hanging out with a bunch of bikes and such with Chef Mike Easton at his joint Il Corvo (217 James St).
Mike makes the best pasta I’ve had in Seattle and Max and Steve will oil-wrestle at 8pm to see who has the better Seattle-based bike line. Food, bikes, booze, and wrestling – are we in Portland yet?
From Bike Radar:
For 2014, TRP will add a new RG957 long-reach, dual-pivot road rim brake caliper for the growing gravel road market. Claimed weight is 167g per wheel with forged and machined aluminum arms, an integrated barrel adjuster and quick-release cam, angle-adjustable cartridge-type pad holders, and stainless steel hardware. Reach is listed at 47-57mm and suggested retail price is US$180 for a complete front and rear set.
Nice piece here from Austin Murphy – it focuses on the 1988 Giro but adds a good overview of Andy’s career including some stories I’ve never seen published. The bit on his year at Banesto is slightly eye-opening but not too surprising. Yes, there are one or two inaccuracies…