Several things to blog about today.
The first thing is the fun, fast finish at the penultimate stage in the Tour de France time trial. The length was 55km and Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) won it; he dug as deep as possible into his reserves and came out with one of the fastest ever time trials in Tour history -- especially at this length of 34 miles. This Tour will go down as the closest top three final ever, barely 30 seconds separate the top three with Levi's teammate (Levi photo) Alberto Contador coming out on top and winning this year's race. (photo at right, Levi racing in S.F. while on team Gerolsteiner, Sept. 2005) Tomorrow's road race into and around Paris' Champs Elysees is a formality. Australia's Cadel Evans will get 2nd place overall. We get up early in the morning to watch it live -- France is nine hours ahead of Pacific Time but it's doesn't matter. Stage 19 results are here.
Levi spoke to our (Westcoast Cycling) team one year during "winter training." I'm pretty sure it was around December 1998 and we were all in a pizza joint in Santa Rosa. At the time he was talking about the Tour being his ultimate goal--well, he made it big time! I remember when he met his future wife Odessa Gunn and she and I were talking while watching him race the crit in downtown San Rafael. She was really proud of him then. I remember Levi lapping the pro field in the Burlingame crit years ago. I'll have to dig up a couple pictures from these early days and post them. Levi spoke after his stage win today "I am extremely happy to win the stage, it has been a life long dream," Leipheimer explained post-stage. "It has been a life long dream just to ride the Tour! To stand on the podium tomorrow, I imagine that it will be fantastic. I will be very happy for Alberto tomorrow, too."[quote from Cyclingnews.com] This is Levi's 4th appearance in the Tour.
A couple days ago I was walking to the SF Ferry building to catch a boat home and stopped and watched the film crew set up for a shot while filming the new science fictional NBC show JOURNEYMAN starring Kevin McKidd. The new show takes place in S.F. and will premier in late September. The actress shown here is Annie Wersching and represents a time of around 1985 when McKidd traveled back in time. A lot extras were also getting in place for this on location activity. I took photos of McKidd and the crew setting up and getting prepared for the shot at the cable car start on California Street just off of Market. HBO's ROME was one of my favorite shows recently and McKidd had the lead role. I blogged about ROME here in January. UPDATE: This episode, #2 "Friendly Skies" was filmed on 7/26 and first broadcast on NBC on Oct. 1, 2007.
Later this Saturday afternoon Cindy & I are going to meet David and Heather at Pres a Vi (Catalan for "In wine [find] strength" perhaps the translation) in the Presidio. I love that place!
Finally my Alcatraz Photos, from June 2007.
Damn it, but the bike racing world is rocked with Vinokourov "blood doping" bust and thus the Kazakh team Astana withdraws from the Tour. I have a few feelings on this -- primarily I want it to be a screwed up test and the lab is wrong; this time it doesn't look like a lab error; homologous red blood cells were found in Vino's blood meaning a close relative or whoever donated blood and he had it transfused into him. C'est le Tour! (not really, not literally)
Yesterday the Democratic presidential candidates duked it out in a debate with questions posed from YouTube.com
Coming soon the GOP candidates will go through the same ordeal. I think Joe Biden won the debate among the Dems. He speaks somewhat without a self-imposed censor, a bit like Rudy Guliani does (he was in S.F. yesterday). (I tell you, sometimes my writing sucks... sorry!)
How many of you think of bike racing and immediately think of the Tour de France? How many times have I been asked in the past, "why aren't you in the Tour de France?" (too many times). Basically the answer goes like this -- you can be a pretty good baseball player and represent your neighborhood or town very well but compare that to Major League Baseball. So, does that analogy make sense? It should because it's apt. If I wasn't an established top amateur or semi-pro by 1982 then I had no future racing pro level (and I had zero aspirations towards that obviously). The OLD guys at the Tour are 35 or older -- and there are only a small handful of them in the pack (the peloton). Ancient pro bike racers sometimes are seen at 40, but not beyond that. Compare that to pro football or baseball and you see my point.
Road bike racing is arguably the most difficult, arduous, and toughest sport there is. The fitness levels it demands are above any sport that comes to mind. It is full of strategy, split second decision making, and incredible athleticism and bike handling skills. It took someone by the stature of Lance Armstrong for it to really make in impact in the USA; sure, Greg LeMond made a huge dent and positive impact for the sport in the 1980s but it wasn't until Lance and his nearly unbelievable story that the sport got some real press (e.g., some of the journalists actually "got it") in the States.
My personal involvement in the sport began during Spring 1978 and the Little 500 Bike Race event at Indiana University in Bloomington. I was on the McNutt North Quad Crone I team and was the fastest qualifier on the team (the only other guy's name I remember was Rusty Duncan, he was the team manager). It just so happened that BREAKING AWAY was being filmed on location on campus in April 1978. Along with others I knew what it was like doing cannonballs jumping into the abandoned stone quarries deep pools. Throughout the middle and late 1980s I hardly ever rode a bike. (that Story to be continued in a future blog post)
The Tour de France type of racing is called a Grand Tour (GT) -- a Grand Tour is a 22-day stage race. There are two other GTs raced every year - Italy in May called the Giro di Italia and Spain in September called the Vuelta a Espana. Every year there are route variations in the GTs. It's prestigious for a city and town to host the start or finish of a day's stage. Lots of money comes pouring in via the form of journalists, tourists, pro teams, sponsors, equipment makers and other vendors, and the rabid fans (see the elk horn guy photo down below). Business is certainly created.
You already know about the Tour de France because the media have clued you in to it.
ESPN, ABC, and CBS networks have all lightly covered this event in the '80s and '90s, but it wasn't until Lance Armstrong
celebrity power and life story, the U.S. Postal Service sponsorship,
and the Outdoor Life Network (OLN renamed "Versus" last year) that you could see live coverage and true professional journalism and race coverage.
The current CBS show that runs for an hour every Sunday during the Tour is pretty silly and is basically a travel guide
(wine, cheese, mountains, and sunflowers) for the French countryside.
Photo at left: U.S. Postal sweeps the podium at the 1997 Graton Road Race in Sonoma County.
Imagery Winery (owned by the Benzigers of Glen Ellen) reserve tasting bar.
(72 hours later healing image posted down below)
Today we visited B.R. Cohn Winery (and olive oil tasting); Imagery Winery (photo at left);
the deli at the Glen Ellen Market; Mayo Family Winery; and finally back down to Cline Cellars and home. Cline was
having a huge jazz festival bash. That place always finds something to entertain their visitors and it's often
you see a wedding occurring on their expansive grounds. One of the first time I ever visited Cline was in 1990 (with Billy,
MiYong, and Cindy S.).
Mayo tasting room was doing pretty good business this Saturday. Photo at the right from Mayo. What's cool about this Sonoma Valley wine tasting excursion was that it set us up for nice plans when our close relatives (parents, brother, sister, in-laws, kids) visit next month -- plans for day's worth of wine tasting and picnicing in the so-called Valley of the Moon.
Crazy Tour Fans -- Cyclingnews.com Stage 14 report here (from the Pyrenees).
This morning, Sunday 7/22, we got up as usual very early in the morning to watch the Tour's Stage 14 live on the Versus channel with reporting stalwarts Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. Discovery's young Alberto Contador won impressively and the chicken Rasmussen easily held on to the yellow jersey. Levi Leipheimer move up a spot from 5th to now 4th place in the overall.
I crashed, slide out on a downhill right-hander this morning (it surprisingly had rained a little over night
and this section of the road descending from Horse Hill in Mill Valley was as slick as, AS SLICK AS an ice rink dammit!).
Lots of top-notch Neosporin and non-stick pads along with latex-free tape and I am good to go, witness:
OK.... more blah blah, blah blah, blah blah Blog!
Yesterday I went to a cool noon meeting on the 40th floor of 101 California Street, at the law offices of Winston & Strawn, LLP. A cool Photo collage here I put together (with all my forced free time today) from yesterday's business meeting.
At the right - Healing at 72 Hours and also 4.5 days later:
Sunday, 7/08, San Rafael, CA -- It's nice to have a lazy day -- no cooking, no traveling, no visiting, and not even leaving the house for anything. Yesterday we ended up going to two wineries fairly nearby; the first was the brand new Jacuzzi Family winery (opened on July 3). They are directly across the highway from Cline Cellars; same family and owners just a different focus on wines. It's the Jacuzzi family who invented the hot tub. Also in the new winery is an olive press and olive oil store with awesome oil tastings; it's really nice to have a place like that nearby. We ended up buying some oil and a plate with olive art on it. Previously we would have had to travel up to B.R. Cohn Winery in Sonoma Valley to find fresh olive oil to taste; this new place "The Olive Press" at Jacuzzi is 12 miles closer.
The above three images are: the new Jacuzzi exterior, Gloria Ferrer patio tasting scene, and Ferrer exterior.
Today's Tour de France stage one finish was super exciting. Robbie McEwen won it in a sprint -- he came back from being taken down in a crash
only 20K from the finish and maneuvered his way through the pack of 185+ racers to out-gum all of the best sprinters
and basically win by a large margin (comparatively) in Canterbury, England. It's on to France and Belgium for stage 2 tomorrow.
[ AFP Photo of McEwen winning!
(from Cyclingnews.com) ]
McEwen said today,
"The boys bought me back into the bunch and I honestly can't believe I won the stage. But that is huge. I thought I had broken my wrist when I first crashed. I was pretty pissed off actually and the guys just did an awesome ride to get me back.
It was a good day but now my wrist is swollen and my knee is sore. But I am worried about my wrist as it's swollen considerably.
But when you get going after a fall and just ride, the adrenaline means it can feel okay.
I'll get some ice on it and see how I come up tomorrow."
Here are my Tour predictions, barring injuries or crashes, Vinokourov will win this and Levi will get a top five. Also in the top five will be Pereiro, Sastre, and Discovery's Alberto Contador. The race ends on the Champs Elysees (Paris) three weeks from today.
Le Tour commences today in London with the short, explosive prologue. Venus Williams just won her 4th Wimbledon championship earlier. Federer will win his 5th consecutive tomorrow over Nadal.
7/7/07 -- lucky anyway you want to look at it! Cheers. Lots of weddings happening today, likely the most ever on one day.
Back to the Tour - Fabian Cancellera (as I predicted) won today's Prologue opener easily in an astoundingly phenomenal time of 8:50 over 8 km of London streets.
THE WINNER for 7/7/7!
So, Happy Independence Day everyone!
Fireworks photos from Marin County Fair, July 4, 2001.
We had breakfast at a new place, the Lighthouse Diner in downtown San Rafael. It wasn't bad at all.
I went mountain biking this morning; it's really going to be a hot day. I went up the Gold Hill Grade above Dominican College and descended on the backside of China Camp State Park. I rode past the crowded and bustling County Fair. Sure is nice to be on a bike and zip by everyone stuck in their cars on this hot day! ;)
Later Cindy and I will be doing some home wine tasting -- it will be a 2002 Ridge Zin (late picked Nervo Vineyard/Sonoma) vs. a 2005 Fratelli Perata Bel'Bruzzo Montepulciano (Italian varietal from Paso Robles); results in this head-to-head to be posted here later. Granted these are different types of reds but the Ridge zin is winning out. See the two photos posted here. (We visited Fratelli 5 weeks ago over the Memorial Day weekend.) we both loved the Ridge -- its residual sugar was 0.3%, largely in part to its late picking -- the Ridge was a lot more full-bodied while the Fratelli, still excellent, faced tough competition. I am not a good describer of wine components (flavors) but am good at detecting oak, fruit, and tannins and rough feeling for the wine's body (all obvious, I know).
In June I visited Alcatraz Island "The Rock" with my parents. It was the first time I've been there since summer of 2003 --
when I went there with my brother Steve and his wife Sondra.
My Alcatraz photos from June 15:
Approaching the Island
Mom & Dad getting off the boat
Officers Club in ruins
Mom at Michigan Ave. Cell Block
Actual Cell interior where Escape Happened
Front Lawn ruins
Inside a Cell looking out
Outdoor Rec Yard
Then the next day (June 16) by sister threw a big open house party at her house in San Jose as her youngest Brianna just graduated from Saratoga High School. I sort of keep track of events and time by taking photos of the fun things as they happen and am really good about cataloging them all. I file stuff away on the computer and have a duplicate set of backups in external hard disk drives (now totaling over 700GB external storage -- Seagate and a Western Digital). I also finally learned how to play the card game Pinochle; my dad taught me and we played for about 20 hours for 3-4 days straight. It's a lot of fun. Current software used: Photoshop CS3 (upgraded from CS2 6 weeks ago).
A shout out! to Nela and Aimee (their photo at right) right now, down in the O.C.!
[ Finally posted: Cindy's photos from Singapore/ Autodesk, from the April 2007 business trip. ]
Friday night we went to a new wine bar, Tamalpa Cellars and Wine Shop; Greg Lolonis the wine maker and grower for Oracle Oaks Winery (Redwood Valley in Mendocino) was pouring his wines that night in addition to the normal tasting flights Tam Cellars offers.
Last night Cindy and I had a fun time doing a little wine tasting and catching up with Linda at her place in S.F.; a furniture hit was her new mango chair. Linda's an excellent host and is pretty good as setting up an appetizer nosh table. A highlight was the Thomas Fogarty Port (Amador County).
On June 16 a tourist died slipping and falling from the cables as he was climbing on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
At the left is a photo of me on those same cables, descending way back in 1993. My brother-in-law Ben and I camped out a couple nights
before we hiked up Half Dome; that is the best way to experience this ultimate nature rush.
[ Stienstra's blog on the tragedy ]
[ New Article 7/7/07 from the SF Chronicle front page, on the Half Dome cables and climb with lots of good, illustrative photos by Michael Maloney. ]
Today, Sunday, was a typical lazy day -- I BBQ grilled some pork ribs (more bone than anything), as well as chicken breasts, zucchini, and red onions. All that served with rice was rather tasty. We watched the movie BREACH on DVD (FBI spy Robert Hannsen) and like it and watched most of the movie SMOKIN' ACES (cartoonish fun but very violent and humorous). A new "Entourage" was on HBO and after that slumber time!
230 mile drive from San Rafael to the westside wineries, mostly Rhone varietals, of Paso Robles.
View from Venteux winery and B&B, located in the Templeton Gap, Paso Robles westside vineyards
Today we visited Four Vines, Linne Calodo (way excellent), Turley (always a "wow!", Denner (superb), Edward Sellers (superb), and Venteux (grenache & syrah!) wineries. Sellers is new and they're in downtown Paso while Venteux is fairly new (renamed from Fortitude) and also are our B&B, located in the Templeton Gap. We had an excellent lunch downtown at Berry Hill Bistro. Commentary on its way...
Visited wineries Pipestone, Dunning, Nadeau (petite sirah), Calcareous (excellent reds), Tolo (all excellent), and Adelaida (more excellence). Dinner at McPhee's Grill (just like last year!). Commentary, Photos, & Reviews on their way...
Visited wineries Lone Madrone and Fratelli Perata (!). Commentary & Reviews on its way...
Lone Madrone tends towards organic and sustainable. A cool herb garden and living store is out back. Fratelli is noted for their Italian varietals, friendly tasting room atmosphere including walnuts and cheese, and a dusty road approach to the tasting room.
The Bottom Line: Most of the wineries we visited were new to us and I think we discovered several excellent new finds, especially new and excellent to us are Sellers, Venteux, Nadeau, Calcereous, Tolo, and Fratelli (such excellent Italian varietals). Still excellent and worth visiting again from last year are 4 Vines, Turley, Linne Calodo, Denner, and Adelaida. A couple notables we missed are L'Aventure (always uses new French oak), Windward (pinot noir), Still Waters (east side), and perhaps Peachy Canyon.
Previous Blog Entries: [May 2007] [March - April, 2007] [Jan. 26 - Feb. 4, 2007] [Days of Jan. 13-25, 2007] [Days of Jan. 1-12, 2007]
page updated 8/18/2007 1:30 p.m. pdt Blog and images Copyright (c) 2007 by Ken Papai