EAST WENATCHEE, Wash. – Local restaurateur Craig Still was in a brew pub in Billings, Mont., a little while back when he was asked the question he loves to answer.
Someone noticed his Wenatchee Valley Velo Club cycling jersey and wondered aloud if Still knew Tyler Farrar, the Wenatchee man who’s competing in the Tour de France and finished third in Tuesday’s stage (He is 164th overall.).
“I went off,” he said this past Monday. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I know him.’ ”
Even while on vacation, Still was glued to the Tour, watching his friend compete. He recalled the novelty of being the only family in Billings who seemed to be screaming and jumping up and down while watching the sport’s most prestigious race.
Still, an avid cyclist who looks about half of his 47 years, laughed as he recalled when Farrar’s parents, Ed and Cindy Farrar, became the first sponsors of the Velo Club, a local cycling group that was founded in the basement of Garlini’s Ristorante Italiano, which he owns. He still exercises with Ed Farrar every week, he said.
Still first met Tyler Farrar when Farrar was just a teenager, already laying claim to national victories. On a rare day that he’s in town, Farrar stops by the restaurant to chat, usually ordering spaghetti alio with chicken, one of the restaurant’s lighter options, Still said.
Last week, Still was preparing a special addition to the walls of Garlini’s dining room. He wasn’t just adding another framed photo to his collection of cycling art. This one was a signed shot of Farrar – the local guy who’s made it big.
For Wenatchee Valley cyclists, Farrar’s journey holds special significance, Still said. One recent morning, about six of them gathered in Garlini’s to watch hours of coverage on Farrar and the Tour.
“Cycling’s sort of an obscure sport,” Still said. “But for those of us who understand the dedication and the sacrifice and the genetics it takes to get to that level, for me, it’s like someone from your town being the starting tailback in the Super Bowl.”
He likened the experience to watching Lance Armstrong’s post-cancer comeback, but this time, it’s a lot more personal.
Armstrong is just one of the cycling heroes adorning the walls at Garlini’s. Still’s eyes lit up as he explained that every one of the cycling photos has a story. He started collecting them in the late 1980s, putting them up in the restaurant a few years ago.
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