"He's going to be one to watch."
"Who?" I say, genuinely interested. Because that is how I am whenever Tim Johnson is telling me something, anything.
"That guy, over there, with the baseball cap." Tim points across the room to a group of skinny, awkward looking young men. Boys really at this point. Bike racers — to say it another way.
"The one wearing sunglasses inside this dark ass bar?" My assessment of most people who wear sunglasses inside bars is pretty much the same all around. Something that Mr. Johnson probably senses in my voice. So he presses further. Things like "great white hope" are said.
"A savior to the sport." (Maybe he didn't say that one). Anyway, Tim goes to great lengths; extolling upon me the great abilities and race savvy and other convincing words that with the help of bourbon implant the mystique of Andrew Talansky into my mind. Or as he was more affectionately called that night — "Andy."
The second time that I'm really aware of him I'm standing at the time trial in Vail, Colorado during the 2013 version of the US Pro Challenge. Apparently he has just won. Either that or he has stubbed his toe, gotten stung by a bee or smashed that small really sensitive inside part of his knee. The way that he is balling his eyes out on the large screen makes me think all those things at once. But, that is before I realize that I'm watching a re-cap of the race that has just happened and this guy, this kid, is actually standing right next to me at this very moment.
Well, he isn't standing so much as he is getting his bike down off the roof of the Garmin car and ambling his way through a crowd of people that are paying him little to no mind. Such is the ways of the pro bike racing world. I did the only thing that I know how and creepily followed along with him taking photos. Sure, there were real photographers standing around doing the same thing but it is in exactly these moments that I will go to great lengths to pretend that I'm not actually taking photos. Or I just freeze up.
The whole time I'm seeing this. The entire time that I'm snapping photos I can't help but think that one minute you can be winning and that is the biggest event that has happened in your young-adult life. The next - you're carrying your own bike back to a bus filled with a bunch of other smelly bike racers. "That, that right there must be what bike racing is all about" I tell myself.
Then, my good friend Scarlett sticks her head into a cooler full of ice and the spell is broken. Thank you Scarlett, thank you very much for bringing the fun back into a time and place that had just gotten all sentimental and serious.
Turns out, this guy has a penchant for bursting out in tears (not saying I wouldn't in these situations). Well, carry your bike no more my good sir because you have officially (with Tim's permission of course) arrived » Talansky Takes on Contador, Wins Dauphiné.