Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tour of California, Stage 1 Sacramento

Yes sports fans, TODAY pro cycling once again reared it's awesome head here in the land of rebels! And I was blessed to be able to BE there to witness a few brief seconds with my own eyes!

My Sunday began just 2.5 hours after yesterday ended (which was around 7am, after I  had gobbled down a quick breakfast a mere 15 minutes after getting off work at 6:30am, where-after I soundly and decisively hit the sheets for a very few winks). The alarm went off at 9:30am SHARP, and I assuredly emitted an audible groan. But I crawled out of bed pronto, because YES, TODAY is TOC day! And the opening stage at that!

I splashed water on my face, heated up the cup of joe I had liberated at breakfast, gathered my goods and jumped in the rental car, pointing it north (or east, somewhere in that general direction). You see, I had a plan. My plan was to go watch the stage. That was the entirety of my plan. I had done a tiny bit of prep-work...I had a printed copy of the days route. That was it. I had NO idea where I was going to be, or how to get there other than to go to Sacramento.

Turns out there is a LOT of traffic heading in that same direction, even on a Sunday morning. I guess the Bay area and the LA area have a lot in common: WAY too many people and not nearly enough lanes on the highways. There were some rough spots (especially going from the 880N to the actually leave freeway and go thru stoplights! I was backed up a mile or more from the exit, watching the assholes continually zoom right up to 12' from the off-ramp and blast into a tiny hole left by an inattentive driver! THAT really gets my goat...and I can assure you, NOBODY gets in front of me...they can sit out there in the lane and get rear ended as far as I'm concerned...they need to learn to wait their turn! (I should be in charge of traffic enforcement...there'd be BIG changes I can assure you!)

Anyway, a little over 2 hours later I had covered the 115 miles from San Jose to Sacramento, had driven around the Capitol area and finally found a place to park that was only about 8 or 10 blocks from the start/finish line. In all due fairness, my tomtom navigator got me there, which I lovingly call "Homer" (because I've downloaded his voice,  which I find quite humorous as Homer tells me where to go). I made a BEELINE for the start finish area as I had some very important business to attend to in Port-O-let row. After that MOST important business I wandered around the tents and team buses like I hadn't a care in the world. Many of the lady racers were lounging around as they had just finished their race (a crit of something around 8 laps of the city-circuit the pro's were going to do just 3 times).  Those ladies look QUITE FIT I can assure you. QUITE. FIT. Oh, note here: the race started at 10:40am, but I had correctly concluded that there was NO WAY I was going to see both the start AND the end, as I actually need to get a LITTLE sleep today (I work again tonight, and every night that I'm up here btw). So I opted for a nice morning nap, and hopefully 2 or so hours tonight. All part of my 'plan'.

Here's my view down 'bus row' looking back towards the State Capitol building.

After wandering around for a while (and remarkably procuring absolutly NO schwag whatsoever) I made my way across the course and found a good spot just about 50 feet or so from the finish line.

 Yours truly at the beginning and end of Stage 1

At 2pm sharp they FINALLY turned on the jumbotron so we could see what was happening out on the road. Of course there wasn't any announcement, just LOUD music for the next half hour or so. Finally the local announcers started to give us play by play details and life was good. One thing I want to point out: it was WINDY today. W.I.N.D.Y. And up here it's FLAT. That's F.L.A.T. Due East the wind was howling as I was getting broadsided by it on the drive up the 80. So I knew those poor devils were getting hammered by the crosswind at some points. They even told us there was a peleton split due to the wind, and Sagan had missed the break and had his team chasing furiously as we watched that part of the action. Finally they were into Sacramento proper, there was ONE DUDE holding out as they passed the finish and began circuit 1.

 This is that ONE DUDE.

And this was about 10 seconds behind ONE DUDE. Maybe less.

 Here is ONE DUDE yet again, still fending off the mob at the end of circuit 1!

And here is the 'mob'. Lots of green up there!

The end of circuit 2. The 'mob' is nipping at ONE DUDE's heels. ONE DUDE is whipped. One more lap to go. NOW it gets exciting!

I only managed to take ONE picture of the melee at the finish....keep in mind this is MAYBE 50' from the line. I think it's a pretty good one. And to be quite honest, I still don't know who won! The jumbotron showed it over and over as a photo finish, and the announcers were salivating and booming, and I couldn't understand a WORD over the roar of the crowd.

But it was QUITE EXCITING! And I had more business to attend to, as I had been standing for about 2 hours guarding my spot on the finishing straight, AND I had over a 2 hour drive (going home there was BOUND to be more traffic, and there was). So knowing I wouldn't get to see much of the final ceremony anyway (being one of the lowly NON VIP people, meaning I wouldn't even get a VIEW of the stage anyway) I bolted for Port-O-let row and then my car. I figured I'd look it up tonight in a quite moment (if I get any) at work.

I really like that last shot...and to be even more quite honest, I was holding my camera up over my head out in the road and pushed the button, having NO idea what I'd taken. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Oh, and I did manage to score a "Green Machine" towel from a Canondale guy handing them out as we stood waiting for the peleton's arrival. schwag-free streak was broken. Only Mr. Green Machine didn't win, that I DO know. I believe that's him just behind Cav (or could be the other guy). Better luck next time Peter.

And there you have stage 1 recap/report. I now MUST get some sleep-time...If I can fall asleep in the next 3 minutes I'll get 2 more hours, to add to my 2.5 from this morning. Maybe I'll rethink the 'ride' thing tomorrow. Oh yeah...I must tell you, I have decided against trying to go to Folsom for the ITT tomorrow. Folsom is a half-hour past Sacramento, and it's no longer a weekend. Meaning when I'd leave Folsom I'd be in business traffic unable to use the carpool lanes. I'd guess my 2.5 hour trip (on paper) would then take me at least 3.5 to 4. That will not do. So my next report will be from Stage 3, San Jose to Mt Diablo (I am planning on riding my bike up Diablo and being there at the finish again). 

With that I will sign off until Tuesday. Good night Gracie!

Update: I peeked in today at Velo News online (Monday) to read about everything I was missing, and  saw this picture from the finish, and you can barely see ME in this shot...I've copied and pasted the pic after editing it in photoshop to show my awesome spot at the finish it is!


  1. That's a great finish picture... Cav won by a very few centimeters.

  2. Pretty cool shot there for an overhead point and squeeze. I have a LCD screen that I can swivel up or down so I can actually aim an overhand or underhand shot. Enjoyed it.

  3. Thanks for the write-up & the pics! That finishing photo was especially AWESOME! Also, you have NOT AGED A DAY in the last 6 years! Is there a portrait of you hanging in your attic? :)

    How far do you have to drive for tomorrow's stage? Too bad there are no other cycling fans at your temp workplace as you could all go together. I'm hoping to leave a little early each day this week so I can at least see the final hour. Or half-hour. The late night version is only an hour & looks like it may not be broadcast till 1:00 in the morning. Crap, that's worse than years past.

    Thanks Barbara, for the car shopping info ( I spent over 4 HOURS at the dealership Saturday. Test drove 3 cars, sat in a Prius C (VERY disappointing - VERY tiny & kinda crappy; was shocked) & narrowed it to 2 models of the Corolla. Can't get a blue Corolla in the LE model (crap!) & the 'S' model cost $1500 over my max. That I was even thinking about it means they had worn me down or I was just excited or something. Luckily, I had enough sense left to say I had to sleep on it. Within 3 hours, I realized I could NOT spend that extra money! So, looks like I'll be getting a RED car! I hate all the other Corolla colors & this is the only one I find bearable. I'm still not sure about the interior so will stop on the way into work some day this week to make up my mind between the 2 fabrics, then get the car ordered. According the site, it looks like I'm getting a good deal.

    I actually teared up a bit driving to the car place Sat as I'll be saying goodbye to my old trusty (well, it was trusty up till 3 years ago) vehicular 'steed'. I shall be getting a red Corolla LE Plus, automatic, with a moonroof. I just love moonroofs! My 1st car (VW Rabbit) had a manual sunroof & have loved being able to look out the top of my cars ever since. My 2nd car (Toyota Tercel) did NOT have a sun/moonroof because the sales guy said it would be "easy/cheap" to have one installed "later". NO, it would not, I found out later & 1 of the reasons I hated that car. I swore then that every car I buy in the future would have one from the factory. My Paseo's moonroof is stationary glass that you could pop out if you want, but I just like looking up & seeing the sky thru the glass. The Corolla's moonroof is motorized! Whoo-hoo, fancy-smancy!

    Oh & the car has a back-up camera thingy! It also comes with 'Cruise Control' which I do NOT want, but it is freaking standard! It's possible that by this time next week, I'll be driving the new car! Can't believe it.

    Have a great time tomorrow, Matt! :)