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May 24, 2010

Tour of California

Filed under: Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 8:06 am

The 2010 Tour of California was passing through my proverbial backyard again, which was a great excuse to get out on my bike(s) and go check out the race.

Stage 3 would feature climbs of Tunitas, Highway 84 from Woodside to Alice’s and later in the stage Bonny Doon. The fact that the Highway 84 climb goes unnamed indicates how relatively unpopular it is with local cyclists: it is so heavily car trafficked that most riders just choose to descend it, closing a loop after climbing say Old La Honda. Talking about OLH, it appears that this gem of a climb was initially selected by the organizers to feature in the stage, which would have been beyond awesome, but the idea was apparently canned due to protests by local residents. That, together with the ridiculous complaints by local governments on ‘road paint‘ shows how bad the NIMBY-effect can get in California. On the positive side though: both stages I checked out featured a huge amount of spectators (even in the rain), what looked like a mass convention of local cyclists and a great overall party atmosphere.

The TOC was apparently moved for three main reasons: to have better weather, to allow inclusion of the bigger climbs in the Sierra Nevada and to gather a more competitive (read: in shape) peloton that what you get in February. Well, I guess they got one out of three (mid-May is way too early for the real Sierra climbs, so I’m not sure what that argument was about). During stage 3, I rode my bicycle to the top of the 84 climb, well before the racers would show. It was raining, not drizzling like last year.

toc 2010 stage 3

2010 TOC stage 3

It was nice to see our local roads owned by cyclists for a day. The group wasn’t really racing but at this point it was pretty early on in the stage. Stage 4 the next day featured the Sierra road climb and some less-traveled but awesome roads in the Diablo range (Calaveras, Mines) – which I know mainly from motorcycling. Talking of which, I took the Duc out that day to watch the race, which turned out to be a highly efficient and entertaining approach. The photos below show the riders passing a (rolling) section of Calaveras road.

2010 TOC stage 4

2010 TOC Stage 4

As for the doping relevations: I’ve long ceased to idolize bike racers (hm, since VdB in ’99 perhaps?); the ones I do still admire nobody knows and are racing in events such as the Arizona Trail Race, Tour Divide, CTR and the likes. The clean guys in the peloton are probably heros, but many others are flawed individuals, just like everyone else and the characters in Lost ;) .