I’m not easily impressed.
Over the years, I’ve met governors, senators and presidential candidates — including one who went on to spend eight years in the oval office. I’ve met award-wining actors and multi-platinum musicians, superstar athletes and religious leaders.
What I’ve found is that they’re pretty much the same as anyone else. And often — more often than you might think, actually — just as screwed up.
Andy Hampsten impresses the hell out of me.
Maybe it’s because I had the good fortune of living in Colorado during the heyday of the late great Coors Classic, when it attracted the world’s best riders and leading teams, including the legendary 7-11 pro team — the first American pro team to compete at the top level internationally.
And right there with them was my personal favorite, a man who competed with world’s best on an equal basis — and often as not, beat them.
Granted, he never won the Tour de France. He never even won the Coors Classic, though he did finish 2nd twice behind LeMond and Phinney, respectively.
In fact, the same year he finished on slot behind Phinney,he also became the first — and only — American to win the Giro d’Italia.
Then there were his two victories in the Tour de Suisse, along with two other podium finishes. And he ranks with legends such as Fausto Coppi, Hinault, Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong as one of just 22 riders to claim a stage victory on the Alpe d’Huez in the Tour de France.
He also took time to talk to fans, sign autographs and encourage budding riders when many of the other pros would disappear to their team trailers after a hard stage.
And like many of the greats, he’s stayed active in the bike industry with his own line of custom bikes.
So when I got an email the other day offering me a chance to ride with Andy, I took notice. And as it turns out, you’re invited to join in, as well.
The Agoura Hills outlet of the Bicycle John’s chain — found throughout the Valley and points north — is hosting a free ride with Andy Hampsten on Tuesday, November 2nd starting at 2 pm., and sponsored by Campagnolo and Womencyclist.com.
The event is open to riders off all levels; all you have to do is show up at the store, located at the intersection of Kanan Road and E. Thousand Oaks Blvd, ready to ride and wearing “proper riding attire.”
Which means spandex, I assume.
After the ride, you’re invited to stick around or come back later for the store’s Men’s Night from 7 – 9 pm and learn how to make quick fixes on the fly.
If any women riders want to learn how to fix on the fly, you’ll have to take it up with them.
I admit it.
I’m seriously considering blowing off my other obligations, leaving my bike at home and trying out the new Campys with Andy Hampsten.
For more information, call the shop at 818/597-8330.
Because the real reason he’s in town is to support Andreas Knickman, son of fellow 7-11 rider Roy, in his battle against cancer at the 2nd Annual Mike Nosco Memorial Ride. The ride starts at 9 am on Wednesday, November 3rd, with an 8 am check-in, at 250 Reino Road in Newbury Park.
While we’re on the subject of Agoura Hills, I’ve received advanced notice that the San Fernando Valley Bicycle Club will hold a memorial ride for James Laing on Saturday, November 20th.
As you may recall, Laing was the cyclist killed recently by an alleged drunken hit-and-run driver, leaving devastated friends and family behind — the second such case in recent weeks. And if you’re not pissed off about that, maybe you should be.
More information later when the details are firmed up.
I’m still catching up from a busy work week, so come back late tonight or over the weekend when I’ll have a boatload of links for your perusal, including a contest from Outside Magazine and preview movie passes for a semi-bike related major motion picture.