I went through the Bike Shop Tales annals and couldn't believe I hadn't told this story from Interbike long ago....Maybe I have, but if so, here it is again!
I suppose there has always been, (since the days of modern mountain biking), a female or two, or three......that has captured the imagination, hearts, and eyes of the male mountain biker on a national and even international level. Jacquie Phelan, Cindy Whitehead, Julie Furtado, Susan DeMattei, and on and on.
Well, back in the mid-90's a woman from Italy did just that for me. Her name is Paola Pezzo. Oh yes. The blond with the sleepy eyes and the half open skin suits on a team fade Gary Fisher bike. Wow!
And she was good too. She won the first Olympic Gold Medal in mountain biking on the female side besides loads of other races. This was no fluke. A gal with beauty and power on the bike. What "bike nerd" could resist that combination? Not I. I was a fan, for sure.
When I heard that Paola was to make an appearance at Interbike after winning the Olympic Gold, I was intrigued. I was there at the show, and thought, "Ahhh.......What the heck! I'll stand in line for an autographed poster." I told Tom what my intentions were, and he winked and smiled at me as he scurried away to grab more schwag. I took my place in the long line of shop rats and aspiring racers. All males, of course!
Well, as I stood in line, I noticed a few things. Most guys were talking about her good looks, of course. There was a card table or two set up with the posters and Paola with an interpreter sitting side by side. No other security or folks were watching over the goings on. Hmmm........I concocted a plan as I waited.
But first, I had to get my poster signed. I walked up to Paola, she lifted her eyes to me and asked for my name. I told her and she repeated it back to me in the way that only an Italian woman can say it. (Oh my! I think my knees went weak!) Anyway, I rolled up my poster, and instead of moving on to the right and away, I stepped around to the left, got behind Paola, down on my hands and knees, and took a peek at her legs. She didn't notice, and neither did the interpreter, both too busy with admiring fans. I gave the "thumbs up" sign to the guys waiting in line to a raucous round of hoots and applause, which was my signal to quickly disappear.
I got away before Paola or the interpreter knew what had happened and went away quietly. My little stunt had succeeded, and I got an up close and personal look at Olympic caliber mountain biking legs. Oh yeah! When I told Tom later he was upset that he had missed it. But, he also thought that was pretty cool, and I am sure my stock with him took a leap upwards because of that. He was always fond of that sort of hijinx!
Next Week, Bike Shop Tales continues...............