Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yellow Fever

Phil, me & Viggo

Santa Cruz finish chute

Dylan Palmer, spreading the yellow love.

I’ve never actually been in a road bike race (aside from triathlons, which, as you know, are a completely different beast), nor am I particularly savvy to the finer nuances of the sport. Yet every summer I tune into the Tour de France with a borderline obsessive viewing tendency. In part, it’s because I greatly appreciate the pinnacle events in any discipline – I mean I’ve even watched the Superbowl, and not just the commercials. In part, it’s because I have a rapt fascination with shaved legs and tight lycra bum-huggers (c’mon, what girl doesn’t?).

But aside from the boys on bikes, there’s a whole separate side to the Tour that captivates me: the commentating crew of Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, Craig Hummer and Bob Roll. Something about these men’s voices and style draws me in, lulling me into sidelined satisfaction. They team up in a perfect balance of melodic, humorous, informed, ad-lib-ish, engaging and Brit-infused rapport. All this, as they ride their own stage race from venue to venue, surely suffering silently from sleep deprivation, missed meals and vocal overload. These guys are hard-core!

I was absolutely tickled over the weekend, at the Santa Cruz stage finish of the greatest race on American soil, the Tour of California, to meet in person with Phil, Paul and Craig. They’re even kinder than they seem on TV; not to mention they earned major bonus points by coddling my dog and commenting on his handsome good looks and exemplary behavior.

I’m following this Tour, and the impending Tour de France, with eyes and ears wide open. Thanks, guys, for keeping me (and a million or so other fans) so wonderfully entertained.