Live Wrong

In anticipation of Lance’s final ride in the Tour de France this month, let’s cast a look back to one year ago. High above the 494 strip in Bloomington, on the twenty-fourth floor of a glass office tower, at the stroke of noon on a “summer hours” Friday, twenty amateur bicyclists sweated, sprinted, and occasionally fell over to the cheers of adoring co-workers. It was the first annual Tour de Colle & McVoy, a tribute to Armstrong’s cruise to a record sixth victory at the Tour de France, and proof that the crap economy has not completely undone the Nerfy, anything-goes creative workplace of the late 1990s.

The circular hallway that rings the ad agency’s offices provided a natural course for the indoor race, which went for twenty laps and “somewhere between ten and fifteen minutes, I think,” according to race organizer and official timekeeper Brian Ritchie, who also rode the tour. According to Ritchie, the race had its genesis in cable coverage of the Tour de France. “Every morning we’d get in and be glued to the Tour on TV,” he said. “People started getting a little competitive—there are some of us who ride on a cycling team. I decided there was only one way to determine the best rider, and that was to have an all-out race right here in the building. Also, the boss was on vacation. That had a lot to do with the scheduling of the event.”

Among the riders on bikes of every type and price point, one competitor stood out. Kicking a foot scooter in white flip-flops and a denim skirt, Project Manager Teresa Demma estimated that she completed three laps on her unorthodox vehicle, although she admitted to some Rosie Ruiz-style tactics—namely, cutting through an internal hallway that bisected the race hallway. “I did finish with the pack, so I feel like I accomplished something,” she said.

Training appeared to have its advantages in this race, as members of the Birchwood Cafe’s cycling team took the top three places, winning the yellow jersey, a case of Diet Dr. Pepper, and gift certificates to Krispy Kreme and White Castle.

There was not a lot of jockeying for position in the peloton, because the narrow hallways made passing difficult. Aerodynamics played no role, and there were no major ascents. Asked what the biggest challenge was, top finisher Ryan Carlson said, “The water, definitely the water,” which had spilled from competitors’ cups onto a slick concrete floor out in the atrium, causing the skinny tires on his fancy-looking road bike to hydroplane out of control. Indeed, several riders careened into an office wall after encountering the water hazard, leaving distinctive black rubber skid marks. Asked how he would explain the damage once the boss returned, race chief Ritchie said, “Hopefully, we’re going to be moving soon.”—Dan Gilchrist