Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Watching the 2013 Tour of California: Stage 8, Santa Rosa

For the final stage of this year's Tour of California Cara had scored VIP passes for the finish in Santa Rosa. This was very exciting, and I must say this VIP thing could get addictive. After a leasurely tour of the expo, we headed to the tents for some appetizers, coffee (decaf), and alcoholic drinks for those who prefer them.

Sagan head
Peter Sagan heads were a notable trend at this year's ATOC

Members of the Champion Systems amateur team were there, since they were sponsored by the law firm which had rented the space. I talked with them about upcoming races and about the developments in the Tour of California, visible on a television in the tent. Participating in that race was the Champion Systems pro team, not sponsored by the law firm, but obviously affiliated. I also asked them about their bikes, which were anonymous Taiwanese frames painted with "Champion Systems".

When I needed to use the porta-potty, I didn't need to use the porta-potty. Instead they had luxury toilet trailers, roomier than the one at home.

finish line

Finally the pro race arrived and announcer Dave Towles worked the crowd into a frenzie. We were treated to three passings by the field. We were around 100 meters from the finish line, near an oblique row of Bott's Dots. In a cat 3 race, these might have caused a problem, but the pro riders glided over them as if they weren't there.

After the first two pass-throughs it was the last lap, and the frenzie grew to an amazing threshold of chaos. The noise was impressive: fans pounded on the barriers, rang cowbells, and screamed at full-lung. It was increadible. First the lead motorcycles came, and then the swarm, moving incredibly fast. On the right, along the barrier at which I was standing, was the green rider, Sagan, clearly ahead of the others. I turned my head as he passed and saw him raise his arm to mark the win. Incredible.

I'd been filming the sprint with my digital camera and posted the result to YouTube. Note to self: film in landscape mode next time. My video is sideways. Maybe that adds something to the effect.

Afterwards, Cara and I were both tired, but we drove out to where the now-returned-to-traffic race course had departed Occidental Road and rode a loop, starting west on Occidental. We were both a bit disappointed that while Santa Rosa is considered a recreational cyclists's paradise, these rural roads carried heavy car traffic on the Sunday afternoon. Cara turned back a bit before Harrison Grade, feeling short on calories, but I finished my little loop down Harrison Grade and east on Guernville and met her back at the car, from where we returned home.

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