Amgen Tour of California

Posted by SuperClydesdale on May 17, 2010 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

Expect Delays

Excitement builds - Tour of California sign at Malcolm Dixon Road... my everyday route!

There was a lot of excitement in my area as the Tour of California kicked off yesterday.   The coolest part for me was that it went over roads that I ride – although I did notice that they went a little faster  (I’ll have to check my brake caliper – perhaps it’s rubbing and slowing me down).

While the Tour of California is a very high-profile event throughout the State,  it’s particularly exciting for the Sacramento region, which seems to really get behind all sporting events.   There was a buzz in the days building up to the start of the race, as teams were using Sacramento as a way to get acclimated.   Reports of teams being spotted on nearby trails started popping up, and everyone wanted to have a chance to ride alongside the professionals.  I narrowly missed an opportunity on Saturday, as I rode the American River Trail.  I had heard reports of the Radio Shack team on the Parkway downriver from me, and I apparently missed them by about 30 minutes.   I had people texting me, “I just talked to Lance Armstrong.”    But, it was not to be.  I never was able to find any teams.

Yesterday was Stage 1, which started in Nevada City – a great little town Northeast of Sacramento, and came down South towards my house on its way to Sacramento, where it finished.   My wife, junior Clydesdale #2 (aka “youngest son”) and I rode down and were able to ride about five miles of the stage 1 course.  I have friends that have gone to France and ridden various stage routes of the Tour de France the morning of the stage, and ridden up roads crowded with spectators, and said that it was a kick.  Apparently, the crowd cheers you up the major climbs.  Since my friend doesn’t understand French, the claim that the crowd was cheering him on is suspect, and optimistic at best.  I’m sure they were shouting, but I’ll bet it wasn’t encouragement.

My  experience riding the ToC course before the riders came through was a pale imitation of that TdF jaunt, but my son thought it was terrific.

As we waited for the riders, it was interesting to watch the effort to secure the roadway from traffic.  There must have been a hundred California Highway Patrol cars, motorcycles, as well as Amgen SUVs perhaps 30 minutes in advance of the peloton.   The cost of putting this event on must be enormous.

If you’ve ever been to a road race, it’s all about the moment.  When I say the moment – it’s just that.   You see the riders for about 10 seconds.   Make sure that the viewing experience – what you do before and after the event – is nice, because that’s how you will be spending 99.995% of your race viewing time.    You can barely even focus, try to pick out a favorite rider, and then they are gone.   Still, it’s impressive.  The road where we saw the riders pass is a slight downhill.  On my rides, I may get up to 25 mph or so on average through this stretch.  The professionals went by at 38-40 mph, rather effortlessly, it would appear.

Amgen here they come

00:00:00 - Here they come!

Here they are!

00:00:05 - Here they are!

There they go!

0:00:10 - There they go!

There were three groups that went by, a breakaway of four riders, who broke out shortly after the stage began, then the peloton (who caught the breakaway several miles before the finish), and then some poor Jelly Belly rider, who looked totally gassed.  Probably flatted or something and was working to catch the main group.

My Amgen water bottles!

My Amgen swag -- I didn't get to ride with Lance, but even if I did, I couldn't sell that on eBay!

We got some swag because happened to be at one of the re-fueling areas on the course, and riders were tossing their empty water bottles.   I picked up Radio Shack (I’m sure it was Lance Armstrong’s) and Saxo Bank bottles.   Pretty cool.

Interestingly, both bottles are marked with an “X” on top.  Not sure what the significance of that “X” is, but since bottles from two different teams had it, I’m sure it means something.

Great experience!  Can’t wait until next year.

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