Tuesday, May 15, 2012

All Things Cycling

Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California has now come and gone.  However, before the team buses headed out Sunday night on their way to San Francisco for Stage 2, I was able to make the most of this weekend.  In my last post, Countdown to the Tour of California, I shared the first part of my adventures.  Now, here’s the rest of the story.

Friday was another opportunity to hit the road on my bike and stalk, I mean watch for, the pro teams.  Since it work so well on Thursday, I opted to head out a little later and see if I could catch the teams returning from their rides.  It worked.  As I was heading out to Occidental I got to roll past three very young riders from Bontrager Livestrong Cycling Team, as well as the Optum Pro Cycling and Orica-GreenEdge Cycling Team.  It was another great day on the bike made even better knowing I was riding the same roads, at the same time, as some of the best cyclists in the world.

Friday night I attended the Santa Rosa Soirée, which was the official kick-off gala and team presentations.  The event was held at Sonoma-Cutrer Winery and was another incredibly awesome experience.  I was there with seven cycling friends drinking wine, eating great food, and talking about each team as they were presented on stage by Phil Leggitt and Paul Sherwen.

IMG_3766On Saturday, it was time for our club ride.    The organizers created a very cool Stage 1 route.  The race started with a 35 mile loop to Windsor, and then returned to downtown Santa Rosa before heading to the coast and back.  To keep things nice and social we selected the first 35-mile loop of Stage 1.  At 8:30 more than 30 club members and friends all descended on to the local Peets coffee in downtown Santa Rosa and then headed out.  As we rode along you frequently heard statements like, “can you believe we are riding the same roads the pros will race on in just 24 hours?”

IMG_3775Sunday was race day and my plan was to be downtown all day.  Since we live very close to centre ville, Sherry and I rode our bikes down to the Flying Goat to start our morning with pastries and coffees.  After checking our bikes with the bike valet (thank you Sonoma County Bike Coalition) we headed to the Livestyle Festival and eventually made our way over the team buses as they started to arrive.   We then positioned ourselves between the buses and start line and watched as all the riders slowly made their way past us to officially sign in. 

Finally, all announcements were complete and the riders were off!  The race started with two neutral laps around downtown and we got some excellent views of all 128 riders.  We continued to hang out at the Lifestyle Festival, got a bunch of free swag and goofed off until they riders came back through town about an hour later.

As the riders were heading to the coast, Sherry headed home for a bit while I stayed downtown with her brother, Michael.  We continued our search for free swag but eventually gave up the ghost and headed to a newly opened pub, Sprenger’s Tap Room.  We drank Belgian beer and ate American Buffalo wings as we watched the race unfold on TV.  As the riders got close, we found a great viewing spot about 200 meters from the finish line where Sherry rejoined us for the finale.  The speed they were generating as they made their final surge for the win is indescribable.  Lastly, we watched the podium presentations and finally called it a day.

It was an incredible four days of all things cycling for me and I was loving every minute of it.  Now, I’ll keep following the race everyday and hope that next year Santa Rosa is once again selected to be a host city.


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