Stage 4 Amgen Tour of California: The Only Way To Watch!

Wednesday morning, I’m cycling from home to Livermore for a little racing action.

Google says it will take four and a half hours to cycle down to Livermore, in time to intercept the stage 4 course of the 2010 Tour of California.

The Bobster has a challenge.  I am going to do it in half that time, with a little luck, and a jersey pocket full of Snickers bars. Time for the old man to turn and burn.  The morning air will be clear and about 55 degrees.  There will be a headwind, WSW, about 6 mph, not too shabby.

I called a few friends, and told them to look for me at Mines Road at Tesla Road; if it’s open, I’ll jaunt down Mines a few kilometers, up into the hills a wee bit, ahead of the racers.  Cycling, I should have little problems, as long as I’m far enough ahead of the pack.

Mines Road:

It will be great to cheer Lance and Levi on, as they churn their way to the finish line in Modesto.

Bob  :smileyvery-happy:

Message Edited by neutron_bob on 05-19-2010 12:16 AM

Good luck to you and also to Levi. He’s not that far back from the overall lead. I’m glad to see that David Zabriski won the stage yesterday and is (at least temporarily) in the yellow jersey,but I doubt whether he can hold it.

With the master tactician, Lance as a team-mate (and in support), I’m sure Levi is just biding his time. Let everyone else have a turn at the lead and their teams having to set the pace and defend the jersey. Then swoop in midway through the race, get a substantial/comfortable lead and just hold it to the end. Where have we seen this strategy before? Hmmm . . . maybe in France in July for 7 years straight?

The race is leaving from San Jose today, taking the ‘scenic route’ through Livermore and back roads over to Modesto but I won’t be at the festivities. The start of a stage isn’t nearly as exciting as a finish. I remember the 1st year of the ToC, Stage 3 ended in San Jose; I was there for the festivities all day and to pick my spot for the finish (about 50 meters from the line). They had a big, portable Jumbo-Tron TV set up so everyone could watch the TV coverage. George Hincappie won the day. They were definitely ‘cookin’ when they whizzed by me.

The next day was the individual time-trial, also in San Jose. I got some great pictures. Floyd Landis ‘smoked’ everyone using his newly-adopted ‘preying mantis’ position on the bike. (That was also the year Floyd went on to win the “Tour-Day-France”, but the title was later stripped from him.) Phil Liggett wasn’t there that year, but Paul Sherwin & Bob Roll were there and filming the ‘intro’ for the TV coverage. I tried to nonchalantly mosey into the shot behind them for a brief “Hey look, I’m on TV” moment. I was swiftly shooed away by one of the camera crew.

Definitely good memories from those days. :smiley:

Well, I put in a 190 kilometer day!  Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate the headwinds of the Altamont Pass , which I discovered on the westbound ascent.  My initial report of 6 mph didn’t look right.  Running down Tracy Boulevard (N-S), I felt a decent crosswind.

I called Roberto, riding east from San Jose.  He was riding with a tailwind, climbing toward Livermore.  He was far enough ahead that he decided to run Mines Road for the KOM stage.  On the climb, you can get a great viewing position.

Then it all went to hell in a handbasket.  My speed dropped from almost 40km/h, down to 16, as I fought the 27km/h headwind for 13km, climbing Altamont.  The view was beautiful, though, sunny at first, then a bit hazy, but comfortable at about 65 degrees.  The various wind turbines was my hint that something was afoot.  They were spinning like mad, hardly the thing one would expect for a reported 6mph.  Those things are noisy too, with each blade version making its own swishing sound.

On a few brief downhill runs, I had to drop down a gear, pointed downhill, to hold my speed.  The winds really fly through those valleys!

The time for the peleton to arrive had long since arrived, looking at the clock.  Man!  1240, and I still have to thread the needle under the 205 freeway into livermore.  Where was my goal?  Ah yes, Mines road at Tesla.  Flying down Greenville Road, I pulled the route sheet from my pocket.  With the paper flapping in the wind, it listed: turn right on Las Positas, then left at Vasco, left at Patterson pass, and an apparent right at East.  I should have simply printed the destination end of the route!  Otherwise, I would have simply ridden Vasco to the south end, at Tesla, and met the peleton as they passed.

Instead, I rode like an idiot in a 3km circle, burning up all of my remaining time, just as the rain started.

Now, I felt like Charlie Brown standing atop the pitcher’s mound.  Running the odds, I left all of my rain gear back at home.  The peleton passed to my south, evidenced by passing aircraft.  I wished them well, as I listened to the shhhhhhh of my wheels rolling in the freshly moistened pavement.  Grungy water rolled down my calves, refreshing and cold.

I headed over the freeway and the local Starbuck’s to warm up, and wait out the rain.  I could see bands of lighter clouds approaching from the west.  Roberto called, telling me of the King Of the Mountain section.

Cycling is wonderful, whether you arrive at your destination, or roll like a moron in a Google-induced circle.  I enjoyed the thought that I could feel the same burning legs and wind in my face as a hundred-plus professional racers, and doing it solo, without a peleton to carve the wind, made it sweeter.  It still would have been great to cheer them on.

Cycling home, I confirmed the wind speed in the Altamont Pass.  Coasting at 27km/h, I was in a coccoon of still air.  The sweat on my brow had no breeze to cool me off.  Ah, we can fix that!  I mashed the pedals, anticipating a 13km descent.  There’s something sweet about hitting almost 70km/h, rolling in top gear, effortlessly pulling the short uphills on the return descent.  It was great.

With a tailwind for the bulk of the return, on the flats, the gentle push made the ride so much faster.  A second band of rain passed overhead, big droplets.  More glossy pavement.  Somehow, the rain was just fine this time, after the elation of the descent.  I’m looking forward to more torture.  I could be at work today.  Getting soaked on the bicycle is a welcome trade indeed.

I’ll be returning to climb Altamont again, and Mines Road is calling, a winding road that I’ll have to ride.

Bob  :smileyvery-happy:

Message Edited by neutron_bob on 05-20-2010 07:44 AM

Hey, I like the crazy jetbike dude in the pic! This guy don’t need no EPO!!!

@neutron_bob wrote:


I am going to do it in half that time, with a little luck, and a jersey pocket full of Snickers bars.


Great write-up. Sounds like an awesome experience. 

I think there’s a glitch in my programming, some quirk hidden deep in the DNA, that makes being sick seem to always synchronize with my days off.  So it seems today, at the least.

I couldn’t eat more than a few bites of dinner last night, and I left more than half my bottle of beer untouched. I’m sure that Tapeworm would share a moment of silence for such a sad occasion.  I had plans to pull a transmission and install a new flywheel today, but that will have to wait for Monday.

Alternately, I just rested today, and eagerly awaited the live video feed for the final stage of the Tour of California. I tinkered with the available routers, in quest of the best bandwidth, and ran with Splashtop, rather than Windows, hoping for the most glitch-free viewing.  The coverage began at around two, and I settled in for the show. 

Of course, I am sure that as today was the last day of the Tour, and on Sunday, the servers would be busy.  The video was fine, until the sprint to the finish. With three minutes to go, video was halted.  I reopened the Tour Tracker, just in time for a frozen video image of the finish line. 

Bob  :cry:

neutron_bob wrote:

I think there’s a glitch in my programming, some quirk hidden deep in the DNA, that makes being sick seem to always synchronize with my days off.  So it seems today, at the least.


I couldn’t eat more than a few bites of dinner last night, and I left more than half my bottle of beer untouched. I’m sure that Tapeworm would share a moment of silence for such a sad occasion.

You probably did yourself in on that ride to Livermore, what with wind & rain and all the other day. Sometimes it takes your body a while to catch up. Even in perfect weather and flat roads, that would have been a pretty strenuous work-out for a ‘non-pro’ rider. And riding through the Altamont Pass, you have to realize those windmills were built there for a reason; it’s ALWAYS windy through that area usually all the way through Tracy as well.

But I salute you Bob; I couldn’t have done it. Hills and I just don’t get along. Here’s hoping you can at least finish your beer tonight. :wink:

Indeed!  I have my season start cyclist’s tan lines now, sharp lines just above the knees, and the familiar “Oakley shadows” on my face. The climb, and the rewarding descent on the return, were awesome!  I recovered over Sunday, and got my appetite back.  I didn’t feel any soreness or muscle fatigue, so that’s a good sign.

Picking my girls up from school every day over the past month, I haven’t been doing my daily sprints to and from work.  I could feel that difference on the ride for sure. This coming weekend, I’m heading out for the hills again.  Got to get some climbing hours under my belt.

Bob  :stuck_out_tongue: