Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tour of California!

You know that you've arrived at a major bike race when you see things like this:

And especially that!
Yes, my friends, the above bike is indeed the very same one that some guy named Lance rode during the prologue, that was stolen, was (miraculously) recovered, and then ridden again during the Solvang Time Trail. At least that's what the guys at the Treck booth claimed.

Regardless, it looked awesome. And I couldn't resist a picture. But I didn't go so far as to touch the thing. I wasn't sure if any alarm bells or whistles would go off, like they do in Art Museums. The thing had already been stolen once, and I was sure security was pretty tight.

If you haven't already guessed, Nathaniel and I headed out to lovely Escondido for the final day of the Amgen Tour of California. Initially I had mixed feelings about spectating the finish...after all, unless we got really really close by pushing and shoving our way in to the finish area, we weren't going to see anything spectacular.

And I had squashed the idea of heading out to Palomar, as I knew crowds would be fierce, traffic would be horrible, and Nathaniel doesn't own a bike.

Wow - that sounded really negative.

But in reality, we thought that walking around the expo, watching the finish sprint, and catching the awards would be a neat thing to do. It was a new experience for the both of us, seeing The Grand Pelaton.
Looking up the road towards the finish. And massive crowds of people!

Actually, it was reported that in excess of 2 million people spectated today's race. Wow!

Eventually we settled a few hundred meters away from the final kilometer banner, along with thousands of other people. It was much much much worse closer to the finish line. Trust me. We schlepped through the crowds before arriving at our final point, a nice spot on the top of a small rise in the road. Great for viewing the approaching riders. You can just barely see the black 1 Km finishing banner down the road.

Before the riders came through, Nathaniel and I managed a picture in the middle of the road.

Then the cops, volunteers, race officials, and more cops came through and cleared the road. There were no exceptions!Actually the above picture doesn't do justice. There were tons of motorcycle cops and police cars racing down the course. Our camera just wasn't fast enough to catch every one of them. This proved problematic later on after the race when this guy went by.

I knew someone important was approaching, because the crowd suddenly swelled and no less than 20 cops came by either running (fast) or biking. Then I saw Lance. Lance! Holy Cow! I grabbed the camera, took aim and...

Waited for the flash.

Stupid flash!

Stupid camera!

But luckily I got a great picuture of Lance Armstrong's rear end.

It seems he prefers the baggy shorts, skater shoes, and no-helmet approach post-ride.

Through some miracle of maricles we managed to avoid getting trampled by the throngs of people swarming by us in effort to catch Lance. Newsflash: the guy is on a bike. And he's fast. You have no hope! But I kept my thoughts to myself, as the idea of chasing after him crossed through my mind as well.

Instead, Nathaniel and I walked around the expo area, enjoying the sights and sounds.
(One of the many large screens around the expo and race area).
(The Leaderboard)

On the way back to the car, Nathaniel and I came across this bike, the coolest bike ever! If I was in the market for a fixed gear, this would be my pick:

Overall, it was a great day, with lots of new experiences. Unfortunately, I don't know who won the race or even how the climb up Palomar went. So now, I'll do as any good cycling fan would: watch the Versus recap of today's race. Don't worry about any spoiler! alerts here, my friends. I don't even know the outcome or how many people finished today's stage. But not to worry - within the hour I'll find out.

The one downside of today was realizing how much our camera sucks. The flash was impossible to turn off, so Nathaniel took video footage as the pelaton and various riders went by. Unfortunately, I'm having a difficult time uploading the video to blogger - my apologies! But rest assured, it looked really cool! to see the riders zip by. Perhaps in addition to a new bed, a new camera is in our future.

I hope so!

Oh - this is one FINAL note. :) We did get one picture of a Rabobank rider coming through by himself, between the first group of riders and the second. It turns out that he got a flat tire with about 7K left to go. Poor guy! But at least we got his picture!

And on one MORE final note - I did find this buried in the realms of our camera. Not really sure which group this was, but proof that we did see them ride by.

Next stop: new camera!


ADC said...

Great photos and it seems like a great day out. I am so envious. Lovely photo of you and Nate :-)

Missy said...

Totally jealous...I think I saw you on TV:) What a great fun. Planned my workouts around the whole thing!

Kim said...

WOW! Love those pictures! I felt like I was there..even if you weren't happy with your camera! I also loved the commentary on Lance and his post race attire! That was crackin me up. The pic of you and Nate was very nice..glad you had fun and got to see a little bike racing. I would have too if it was RIGHT OUT my front door like you kids! That is so awesome!!

Charisa said...

I saw that same bike as we were driving out of town :) AWESOME pics - glad you had fun!!

Laura said...

I'm very jealous! I really want to go watch next year, probably up near San Fransisco as that's where the BF's family is from. Thanks for letting us come along with you Marit! ;)

Shan said...

Great pics! I, sadly, didn't really watch the coverage for the TOC this year - usually I'm a freak about it and know all the stats...ah well! Glad you had a great time :)


I am so jealous of you guys. You must be so stoked after watching all the action.

Now I am really sick of shovelling snow.

Mama Simmons said...

So cool you got to go and see all that production! Jealous!

Eileen Swanson said...

Cool Marit! Looks like you guys had so much fun out there. The guys literally rode in our backyard when they were in our area. You guys had much better weather though. We had them here when it was pouring and cold. Nice pics ;-)

Marni said...

I'm so happy you went! Karel watched every stage..we didn't miss a minute! Love the we are there. We both said we HAVE to go next year.