I hear “Red Jersey, Red Jersey.” I’m wearing a vanilla Pearl red jersey. “Red Jersey.” I’m thinking, WTF, I’m on the sidewalk because there is a race on the road, does the race “police” want me to walk? I peddle faster. “Red Jersey” I kick it up a notch, I’m amazed that a race volunteer can run that fast. Finally, “Red Jersey” is shouted very close to me. I stop feeling like I’m going to be busted for a crime. I look around and it is a CSC rider. “I need your rear wheel”. 5 seconds elapse were I’m trying to think about the fact that I’m riding my road bike and not my newer Cervelo and my road bike has a 9-speed cassette. My response, “Ok, but it may not fit”—not the technical response that I wanted. “It’s better than this” He lifts up his Zipp 404 that is trashed. Ok, I take the rear wheel off my bike and I’m not quite sure if I’m supposed to pop it in or he is going to do it. He puts it in, but the chain isn’t lined up on the cassette… I go down and line it up to pop the wheel in and he moves me aside to tighten the QR. He says- “This had to be the slowest wheel change ever” Me-“uh, sorry”. “Do you want a boost?” “Yeah”. I finally get my act together and launch him forward with a good full run in my cycling shoes (I’m glad I’ve got Crank Bros cleats). “Come to the finish, Team CSC, We will hook you up.” I then realized that I never even looked at his face and I don’t know who is on the CSC roster this year.
I’m standing around and now it is sinking in… What am I supposed to do now? I’m about 8-10 miles to the finish. I talk to several people on the side of the road and some of them thought that I was in the race and he was my team mate—nice. One of them offers me a ride downtown and I take it. It turns out that this guy is now retired from working 35 years in the same company that I work for. The day is getting more bizarre. It takes awhile to make it downtown with the road closures and by the time I arrive at the finish, Levi is on the podium. I go around to where the team cars are located, but CSC is nowhere to be found. I talk to a mechanic from Colorado with Mavic race support (he tells me- “you're a hero”) and he gives me the hotel that they are staying at which happens to be in Monterey (about 70 miles away). I head home by riding light rail.
I call the hotel from my house and bounce around a few rooms until I get ahold of Kim Andersen. After I tell my story, (yeah, I’m that guy) I tell him that I won’t be able to make any more stages… He says, “I don’t know what we can do.” “Can’t you mail me my wheel back; can you write down my address?” “No… that wouln’t work to well… I’m not great with writing english….” Hmmm... “What rider was it?” “Bobby…. Yeah, you should talk to him… here’s his room number.”
I call and leave a message with my phone number. Half an hour goes by and my phone rings… I’m on the phone with Bobby Julich.
He explains that he was turning onto Piedmont and he forgot about the traffic island and slammed into it. He continued riding for 1.5 miles when he saw me. “There was no way that I was going to let you get away without me taking your wheel.” I give him my address and comment that he could throw some zipps in with the box… He laughs and says that he will try and put “something in there from the team.”
I’m looking for a photo of Julich finishing with a yellow tire michelin rear wheel.
So, what should I do with the Zipp?