Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random Thoughts on My Tour of California Experience

WOODBRIDGE, VIRGINIA


Random, so I don't have to put any thought into how I organize them


  • It is something I would definitely recommend for cycling fans but even for casual on-lookers it is pretty neat too
  • It's very different from a typical sporting event where you pay money then watch your favorite athletes or teams perform for 2-3 hours in a game
  • About 2,000,000 people will watch the Tour at various vantage points -- all for free.
    Depending where you go, you get to wait for one or two hours to get to see the riders go past you once.
  • Best stage is a time trial where you get to see every rider individually
  • Or you may like a stage finish where there is sometimes chaos coming down the stretch for the win
  • Or you may like to be on a hill climb where they are going slower and you can see the pain in their faces
  • I worked with four different volunteer coordinators. Best at communication was Maura Noel in Santa Cruz
  • Most helpful was Susan Ryan in Santa Rosa. She emailed me a couple of times to make sure I had a place to stay
  • Maura and Susan both sent me my assignments well in advance
  • In Sacramento and San Jose, unless they were holding out primo spots for certain volunteers, when you checked in you were given the next assignment available to cover







  • The order for the prologue time trial was by draw except Levi Leipheimer, as defending champion, would go last. It's not even that each round of 17 was drawn because in the last group of 17 were two Garmin riders.
  • I understand that each team got to choose who would ride last -- usually their team leader but maybe their super time-trialist.
  • The final 12 riders went as follows: Kim Kirchen, Tom Boonen, George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton, David Zabriskie, Lance Armstrong, Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellera, Ivan Basso, Michael Rogers, Floyd Landis, Levi Lepiehiemer.
  • The largest cheer was for Lance but at this point they were all loud
  • But nothing like Heinz Field for the AFC Championship game when Troy Pololmalu intercepted the pass at the end of the game to send the Steelers to the Super Bowl
  • Hilton Garden Inn is becoming my favorite Hilton property. Their breakfast is better than Embassy Suites.
  • Hampton Inn's soaps and Internet sucks although the Internet may be a location by location situation
  • I enjoyed the volunteers I met at every location. In Sacramento was Tamy Quiqley who came from Redding, Calif. to volunteer. She was the most fun to talk with.
  • In Sacramento we were given the start times so there was no guessing as to when the riders were coming.
  • "Lance starts at 3:39 p.m." "Lance starts at 3:39 p.m." "Lance starts at 3:39 p.m." "Lance starts at 3:39 p.m."
  • In Santa Rosa we had a couple who had race radio which was helpful. But being "on Calistoga Road" didn't mean a lot to this Virginian.
  • In Santa Cruz the neighbors were great about coming out and mingling. One woman brought tea and offered up her house for bathrooms.
  • "Bonny Doon Road" meant nothing to me either but after a few minutes I talked to the residents like I knew exactly how far the riders were and the pain they would be suffering
  • Also in Santa Cruz, one brain-dead person decided she had to go to work and get her car out of the driveway and drive the course after the it was closed for the race. All the publicity and the door to door flyers for the people on the route and she "didn't know there was a race" -- how stupid.
  • The riders in Santa Cruz came in waves. In between, just as the crowd started cheering, came what appeared to be a college student, flying down the road on his bike. Don't know where he came from.
  • And I don't know where the California Highway Patrol (CHPS) motorcycle cop came from either but he was on that kid's butt in about three seconds time. Don't know if he got cited or just pulled off the course. I'm betting citation.
  • Just saw a recap of yesterday's stage and saw my arm -- MY ARM! -- taking a picture of Francisco Mancebo cresting Sierra Road for King of the Mountain points
  • If I go again I would not go to the top of a mountain road but part way up it where the viewing was unobstructed
  • If you saw me then you'd see more than my arm
  • One goal I had was to see Phil Liggett and/or Paul Sherwin
  • I would have settled for Bob Roll
  • I thought briefly about heading over to Modesto for the finish after I ran down Sierra Road but I was soaked to the bone and wanted to get out of my wet clothes
  • I am more sore today than when I biked up Mount Washington or rode the Blue Ridge Extreme Century. Not sure if it was the walk up the road or the 3.5 mile run down.
  • It was cold and wet on the hill. No trees -- just pasture. Cold. Wet. No porta johns led to creating my first ever urine bottle when I reached the car.
  • Biking IQs -- Sacramento -- 110. Decent day and people came in from all over to see cycling. This was an above-average knowledgeable crowd. Yet it was also the worst crowd. Some people tried to play frogger and cross the street between bikers.
  • One woman in Sacramento in her 60s knew more of the riders than I did. Or at least as much. I was very impressed. She said she was "Chris Boardman's" mother although she wasn't -- they just shared the same name.
  • Santa Rosa -- 115. Like Sacramento, people had to come in to downtown but the weather was so miserable that cyclists tended to show up more than the mildly curious.
  • Santa Cruz -- 80 (my section). I was on a residential street where no one outside of Santa Cruz came. Most were very nice retirees.
  • Sierra Road, San Jose -- 130. These were the Mensa bikers. Everyone on top of this pass was a cyclist, cyclist fan, or family of one of the riders.
  • A treat throughout the tour is to read the daily blog by Phil Gaimin on bicycling.com
  • Sorry to learn today that Scott Nydam crashed out of the Tour. I met his fiance at the top of Sierra Road yesterday. She was so cute writing his name in chalk at the top of the climb.
  • Flight time from Chicago O'Hare to Reagan National (DC): 1:20
  • Time spent on the plane not in the air: 2:10
  • Dinner Friday: In-N-Out Burger
  • Dinner Saturday: In-N-Out Burger
  • Dinner Sunday: In-N-Out Burger
  • Dinner Monday: In-N-Out Burger
  • Hey, if it's good enough for Floyd's training table, it's good enough for me
  • There was no lunch any of those days as it was a big breakfast then out to the course until dinner time
  • I still believe Floyd did not dope

  • Two days in a row the Amgen email folks ruined a good Tivo veiwing of the Tour for me. While watching the recorded program and checking email up pops "Cavendish wins Stage 5." Why not "Stage 5 Results?"

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