Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dinner with Levi

Does it get any better? Just 3 short days after riding and lunching with BMC Racing Team pro Scott Nydam, I got to attend a dinner reception for Levi Leipheimer. Now, to be honest, if you don't follow pro cycling you may not know who Levi is. But if you do, or you live in Santa Rosa, CA, you know that Levi is currently the top rider in the US and one of the best cyclists in the world.

The whole thing came about from the Viva la Revolution at the Riviera ride I did last Saturday. After our great lunch, GiamPaolo invited us to this special dinner. Sherry decided not to go so I invited my friend Tim. So on Tuesday, Riviera Restorante was closed to the public and filled with cyclist. Now, I don't know if GiamPaolo, Rita and Luca set out to create a restaurant that seemed perfectly catered to the local cycling community but they succeeded. There are signed jerseys on the wall and cycling talk at a lot of tables. If you cycle, and visit Sonoma County, you simply have to eat there. But let's get back to the dinner with Levi.

Levi had a great 2008 season. He was the overall winner of the Tour of California for the second year in a row, 2nd place overall in the Vuelta a EspaƱa, and won a Bronze Medal in the Olympics in Bejing. And these are just a few of his accomplishments this year. He also won the US Pro Champion road race in 2007 which means he is the current US champion. So you can see why a cyclist like myself was excited to spend this evening with him.

After we settled down to start dinner one of the guest stood up to make a toast. Afterwards, Levi offered a short little story (not a speech). He told us of his love of Sonoma County, how he has chosen to live here, and the great support he receives from the cycling community. When he won the Bronze Medal in Bejing, he wished more of us could have been there to share that experience. But since we couldn't be in China he brought the medal with him. That's right! He reaches down for a box and pulls out his Olympic Bronze Medal for all to see.

So he puts the medal around his neck for the many, many pictures being snapped at this point. And then he did a truly unbelievable thing. He put it back in the box and sent it around the room. So while Levi was chatting with everyone around him, his medal is simply floating from person to person around the room. I can only assume it made it back to him safely and is not currently listed on e-bay.

Finally, after more toasts, more great food, and more cycle-chat with those at our table, the night was winding down. Tim and I did get to spend a few minutes chatting with Levi. He is really just a nice guy. We wished him luck for 2009 and let him know just how much we would enjoy watching him ride. I certainly wish him the best for next year and I look forward to seeing him 3-peat at the Tour of California when it rolls through Santa Rosa.

Until then, I'll keep riding our local roads and watching for the US Pro Champion to ride by.


1 Comment(s):

Sarah said...

Sorry for all my poking fun at you and Tim, Lee, but you know I had to!!!

IN ANY CASE, that is super cool that you guys got to meet him and hold an Olympic Bronze Medal. I'd be going on about it, too.

Will I see you on a ride tomorrow???

Maybe we'll have the luck of threes and see some pro out there!