Monday, February 1, 2010

The Accidental Groupie

I've had a couple bouts with groupie-dom in my lifetime. I'm not ashamed to admit it. But while all my friends were fawning over pictures from Teen Beat, I had something a little more serious in mind.

This gentleman is Eric Clapton. You may have heard of him. He's a virtuoso—arguably one of the best guitar players of all times. But a teen heartthrob he's not, at least he wasn't in 1988, when I was 15. Still, I was bound and determined that I was going to marry this guy, despite the fact that he was a rock hero, was 28 years my senior, had a lousy track record for relationships and a history of substance abuse and was living in England at the time. I had birthday parties for him on his birthday. I listened to his music constantly and I bought and saved every piece of press I could find on him. I saw him in concert. When I was 19, I actually got chased out of his office in London by the secretary. You could say I was a groupie. But I digress.

Remember this guy?

I'll admit that when we headed for Leadville in August I didn't really know who he was. I'll also admit that I went there specifically to see Lance finish and was disappointed when I didn't. But something else was happening there. Everyone was excited about him. Everyone was cheering for him. Everyone loved him. I started to think there must be something to it. The more I read about him, the more I liked him. When I watched Race Across the Sky, I thought that really clinched it for me. He was obviously a great guy. But it didn't compare to meeting him in person and experiencing first-hand how he treats people.

My Dave Wiens groupie story began at the Short Track Race. (I apologize to those of you who have already heard this story ad nauseum. Feel free to skip this part.) When I pulled into the parking lot, I thought I saw him sitting in the vehicle next to me. As I was getting ready, three guys got out, and sure enough there was Dave. I tried not to stare at him, but I could tell I was grinning like crazy. I kept looking over and one of the times he smiled at me and spoke.


"Hi, Dave."

He walked toward me, held out his hand for me to shake and said "And you are?"

(A Dave Wiens groupie?) "I'm Andrea. Thanks a lot for coming. We're really excited to have you here."

"Thanks for asking me."

Somehow I finished getting my bike ready and concentrated on the race. My next experience with Dave Wiens came when he lapped me as I was beginning the second lap. Of course, he was very encouraging as he passed me. That was also the case when he lapped me the next time at the end of the same lap. That's right. He lapped me twice on the same lap. If it had been anyone else, I would have been completely humiliated, but I actually felt kind of proud.

Dave started his presentation by telling us he wasn't really used to being a guest speaker and he was nervous. He had about five pages of notes and 100 slides. The slides were really cool because there were a lot of pictures of the Gunnison/Crested Butte area. I sat in the front row, hung on every word and took scads of pictures.

Afterward, I dutifully stood in line to get my photo taken with him. I got the opportunity to chat with him for a minute about Crested Butte and wanting to move there. When I asked him how we could do it, he answered me with a question: "Are you independently wealthy?"


But it gets better. They held some kind an after-party in a room at an East Lansing brewpub and I ended up sitting next to Dave Wiens. We sat there for a couple of hours CHATTING with him.

Let me say this starkly, if I haven't made it clear already: This guy is so down to earth it's completely incredible. He's in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. He raced against Lance Armstrong and won. Yet, he is ridiculously NICE. Sometimes, it's really good to be a groupie.

P.S. More about the rest of the weekend and the Expo in my next post, along with an update on how I did last week

1 comment:

Laurie said...

The photos I took from the race for you are coming - perhaps tonight!