Belated Amgen Tour of California Report

Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Yes I know it's late but as they say better late than never...

A few weeks ago I went out to the Amgen Tour of California. This is the biggest stage race in the United States and it was great to see some of the cyclists that I have seen participate in the Grand Tours on television up close and personal.

Saturday, February 14 - Loaded up the family truckster and began the drive to California. The initial plan was to get to about an hour within Arizona and call it a night. But once we got to about an hour away from our hotel, I knew I still had a few more hours of driving in me, so we canceled our reservation and pushed on. Tucson, check, Phoenix, still feeling good, but should have checked the map, as after Phoenix there is nothing for about another 150 miles. Well there is nothing to do now but push-on unless we wanted to sleep in the car in the middle of the desert in Arizona. Um, no. So finally arrived in Blythe, CA at midnight Pacific time. Nothing like 17 hours of driving to get your trip started.

Sunday, February 15
- Woke up pretty early and luckily only had about 3 hours of driving to Rancho Cucamonga, where we were staying with family. Basically did nothing all day but lay around, and nap, and eat (including my first experience with In-N-Out burgers, and that was so amazing it will get its own post), and nap some more.

Monday, February 16
- This was supposed to be a pretty easy travel day of about 5 hours from Rancho Cucamonga to Ripon. The optimal word is "supposed" to be. Unbeknownst to me at the time there is really only one major way to get from southern California to Northern California inland and it is through the Grapevine. Well California was having terrible weather and the Grapevine (a twisty, mountainous section of Interstate 5) was closed because of snow and ice, so we had to detour and take a secondary route that was also experiencing weather and our 5 hour trip turned into about 8.5 hours. Luckily we made it through safely, and had a great dinner waiting for us at my Aunt's.

Tuesday, February 17
- This was our first day to pick up the tour, and the weather was still vile. Temperatures were in the upper 40s and it was raining cats and dogs. We arrived at the Stage 3 finish line in Modesto about 2.5 hours before the boys came in and after walking around at the finish line festival for awhile we decided to get out of the elements and watch some of the coverage on Versus. After about 30 minutes of this we headed back out and luckily the rain had tapered off. It was amazing that even with slick streets the riders still came barreling into town at such high speeds. After the finish it was another 2 hour drive to Fresno. After a few beers and some pizza it was time to turn in for the evening.

Wednesday, February 18 - The Stage 4 finish was in Clovis which is only about 15 minutes from Fresno so we were able to sleep in a bit. Also the weather had changed and the sun was shining and it was beautiful. Now this is what California was supposed to be like. Clovis really did it up right and they had a huge turn out. After walking around for an hour or so we posted up by one of the video boards about 300 meters from the finish line. It was here that I bumped into my friend Kevin, who I met last year at Pro Night at the Driveway Crit. He was driving the team bus for Toyota-United at the Driveway and was driving for Team Garmin-Slipstream for the AToC. He is such a great guy and it was great to see him again. So we posted up and watched the board until the riders came flying into town. Mark Cavendish of Team Columbia Highroad won the stage and clocked in at over 42 MPH in the finishing stretch.

Thursday, February 19 - Woke up pretty early in the morning and began the drive to Paso Robles which was the Stage 5 finishing city. After about 2 boring hours of driving we pulled into Paso and it was a really cool little town. Very nice people, beautiful weather once again, etc. Was able to post up at about 200 meters from the finish in front of a video board. Once again it is amazing to me the speeds these guys reach as they come into town sprinting to the finish. Cavendish won again. After Paso it was back in the car for about another 2 hour drive to Los Alamos (right outside of Solvang). In Los Alamos we found an awesome little dive bar right by our hotel. Had a few drinks, had the locals buying us drinks, buying locals drinks, it was just a great time. The hotel itself was a bit sketchy but whatever.

Friday, February 20 - Solvang. This was Stage 6 and it was a 15 mile time trial around the city. Solvang is an amazing little hamlet in the middle of California. It looks like someone took a piece Holland and uprooted it and place it in Cali. This was by far the most fun as since it was a time trial the start and finish lines were within a block of each other. Plus we were able to see the guys warming up on their trainers, walk out on the course to see the first turn, walk to the start house to see them leave, and then head over to finish to see them come in. Just amazing. Plus Solvang is such a cycling crazy city it seemed that everyone was a cyclist. After the time trials ended it was back on the road, and unfortunately time to sit in some traffic in L.A. Nothing like L.A. on a Friday, during rush hour. Oh well the day was amazing what is a little traffic.

Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22 - On the road again back on the road to Texas.

All in all it was an amazing trip seeing some amazing cycling. Congrats to Levi for winning especially now that news come out he had a fracture at the time.

If you are interested in seeing my pics from the trip they are uploaded here.

Eventually I hope to get off my duff and make a movie of the footage I shot, but until then...

Enjoy the ride.

3 comments:

  • THE Princess Bombshell*

    Hi you guys!

    So, my husband and I are big fans of Shark Tank. Watched you guys today, actually, since we recorded and hadn't gotten a chance until today. Anyways, we LOVED you guys! (Just for being you, not because of your product. You seemed like people we would get along with-- even though we don't bike.) :-) But your product seems fabulous! We don't get greased up much, but I'm a mama to 4 under 4 and I would totally buy your wipes! Especially like at the checkout counter-- I'm such an impulse buyer! lol I make a lot of themed gifts for friends and family, and I just made one for my brother-in-law that I would have totally tossed those into! And what would be cool would be to see Grease Monkey in like tubs like baby wipes! Now THAT I would buy as gifts for my grease monkey friends. :-)

    Anyways, all that to say, I looked up your blog, and we're born and raised in CA-- and we're from Paso!!! We've been here for years! Isn't it special?! We watched y'all speed down Spring Street. :-) Thanks for coming! We loved having you all downtown!

    Best wishes on your new life endeavor! God bless you!

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