The Spaniards are fanatical about their motorcycling heroes. I had a moment last night to visit the grand opening of a new store here in Barcelona, Mundial Motors, and it was kicked off with an autograph signing by none other than Dani Pedrosa!
I made a long loop, walking around the city to find this place, and about six blocks away I started seeing young girls clutching new style Pedrosa hats and wearing his shirts and colors, and crying. Yes, crying - like they'd just met the Pope. I followed the waves of young girls towards the shop and found a huge crowd of people waiting in line outside. Security was pretty good, maintaining a orderly procession of people to the autograph table.
Can you imagine your neighborhood Cycle Gear looking like this?
It was a private party on the inside of the store, and I was able to get inside thanks to some people that I knew. Just more dumb luck.
It was hot! Fortunately, there were free drinks and I managed to snag a coke.
I spent time talking with Alberto Puig and it's very apparent how seriously he and Dani are looking at the season. They are optimistic but not overly confident about their home GP. I also asked him a little bit about Le Mans, the circuit which claimed his career as a rider with a bad crash that ruined his leg. Does he feel nervous/worried when Dani is riding that track, in that same corner? Nah, every year the feelings are less strong. We also agreed that Arai's are f'ing expensive. Raul Jara showed up with his girlfriend, and we shot the breeze a little about work. In the next couple weeks, we're probably going to get crunched, workwise, but overall it was nice to talk a little with everyone away from the track.
Touched base with Dani, and he was smiling and at ease. I've seen some of the bicycle routes he trains on (and some of the vertical stuff), and there's only one thing to say. Any doubts about his physical conditioning should be erased. I tried going up one of the hills that he powers up in one go, and I only made it about a tenth of the way.
Good luck to everyone at Catalunya - especially me! I'm looking forward to seeing some of my old friends, and this is my "home" race in Europe, so it's particularly important to me. It's cool just to be able to say that. "This is my home race."
Actually, I will always consider Laguna Seca to be my home race, but the Catalunya GP? Hell yeah!
I'm leaving for the circuit sometime in the next twelve hours or so, and depending on my situation, I don't know if I'll be around (the web). Those of you looking to meet up, give me a ring and I'll see what's possible.
+34 696 78 69 55
I'm staying at a hotel 3 minutes walk from the track, simplifying a lot of things.
Anyway, I'm off to the circuit in a few hours, and I've got to find my own way there. Instead of the usual flight, I think I'll take a train to the town of Montmelo and then walk. Should be fun.