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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tour of California

Full disclosure requires that I admit I haven't been following this race like a good California cyclist should.  But I haven't exactly slacked off either.

As I write, Peter Sagan is likely picking the bugs off the front of his handlebars.  He's been single handedly providing vector control for the rest of the field in the vicinity of the finish line for 4 straight days.

Monday, Stage 2; Chris (My official TOC photographer) and I watched the start in San Francisco.  After a few hours in the office I headed for Sausalito and parked on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge.  We cycled across one of the most recognizable bridges in the world and took up positions to see the riders come roaring through the 0km mark at around 11:15am.

 Um...that was fast.  They were gone in a blink.

What a draft...

So Chris and I toured the Presidio, grabbed a Starbucks, and eventually blazed back across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Note Chris the photographer on the left.  I think he takes good
photos so that he can stay out of the pictures.

Tuesday, Stage 3; there were 4 of us.  Mike, Matt, Chris, and I met to watch the race cruise through our backyard.  Chris, Matt, and I parked a few miles away from the base of the mountain and joined the throngs of cyclists already en-route.  Mike joined us later on the hill.

Over the course of 2 hours, cyclists steadily pedaled by.  I have no idea what the actual count would be, but I estimate 2,000 - 3,000 cyclists skipped work and joined the endless string of fans lining the road.

Then after standing for 2 hours...

We were treated to a split field, with 4 men in the breakaway rolling through about 8 minutes ahead of the peloton. If nothing else, it further justified the 4 hours of pedaling and standing.  From the time we saw the break away riders come around the first corner, to the time the last rider in the peloton rounded the last, elapsed time was about 15 minutes.  This is easily 30x the typical exposure for the typical spectator.

And then Mike pulled us all to Livermore - 18 miles away...

The heat affected more than just the racers.  We were all sporting distinct tan lines in spite of sunscreen at the end of the day.  This downtown Livermore fountain proved ideal for hot cyclists.

Eventually, after circling the extents of the far East Bay cities (55 more miles for them), the race roared back into Livermore.

The field had split into abut 4 groups over the last 55 miles, so we were again treated to a prolonged exposure.

Did I mention 18 miles?  ...And then we rode back into a stiff headwind, leading lengthening shadows.

Any day in the saddle is a good day; and this was a particularly good one.  It's not often that spectators get the opportunity to see the race twice in one stage.  It took a little work, but we pulled it off and had a blast doing it.

Thanks again to Chris for the great pictures.  Can you spot the photographer in the following pictures?

Where's Waldo?

Not the guy down by the road...

We're not sure...

No trees were harmed...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just Pictures

Cycling season is back.  Actually it's been back for a while, but my season is just getting out of the shed.  I rode with House of Pain (HOP) Medium the other day and realized that I might still be in HOP Light condition.  The pack was being led by guys who race and wear their team jerseys to the ride.  I don't race and have no team jersey.  I was happy to just hang on near the back of the pack and only take my periodic turn pulling at the front when we got particularly organized.  I survived, but it was a long slow ride home.

Transitioning back into cycling has meant backing off my running.  And that has been hard to do.  Finishing the Mt. Diablo Trails Challenge (See the previous Post) in 15th place gave me more motivation to stay strong than it did to relax.  

Alas, something has to give.  Unfortunately it has been this blog that has been sacrificed.

So, I've simply posted some pictures from recent training runs - most of them early mornings done the injustice of being captured with the camera on my phone.  

Morello Ave. - Pleasant Hill

Nevada - High Desert

Briones Regional Park

Carquinez Shoreline