Posted by: Travis | March 2, 2008

On Cycling

So it may have been 2 weeks since the Tour of California came to Palo Alto, but things have been really busy around here so i haven’t had a chance to write about it yet.

The thursday night before the race (which also happened to be Valentine’s Day) Rachel and i went to an event at a local hotel where we got to meet last years winner (and the winner of this year’s race), Levi Leipheimer, and his teammate, a legendary American rider, Chis Horner. Things started with about an hour and a half of Q&A with the riders and then they did the autograph thing. It was lots of fun.

The next day we wandered around Palo Alto looking for pro riders (they were everywhere). We found the hotel they were staying at, wandered around the parking lot looking at all of the team vehicles, then snuck into the riders’ hotel when we found an open door. We ended up walking right into media day. It was pretty interesting. You can see the picture from both of these events here.

On saturday i took Rachel up to climb the famous Old La Honda road that is a right of passage for cyclists in the area. We saw lots of pro riders out getting ready for the race riding on the same roads we were. How often can someone claim to have played on the same court, at the same time as their favorite basketball player? Catch the pictures here.

Sunday Rachel and i got up and left the apartment around 9am, not to return until around 5pm. The stage on sunday was a 2.2 mile prologue time trial where riders ride the course individually and go as fast as they possibly can. The winner averaged about 35 mph. Throughout the stage Rachel and i moved around to different sections of the course. It was really cool to see all of our favorite riders, one at a time, up close and personal as they whizzed by. You can see the first photo album here and and second album here.

On monday Rachel and i took the day off and went to watch that day’s stage of the race. Riders would start in Sausalito and ride to Santa Rosa, doing a series of circuits around downtown Santa Rosa before finishing. We drove up and staked out a spot 50 meters from the finish, meaning that we got to see the riders go by 4 times. It was a blast. Santa Rosa is known for having the craziest fans and the largest number of spectators over the entire race, and didn’t disappointed this year.  I really enjoyed that we got to see both a time trial and a sprint finish. You can see the pictures here.

Then, this saturday (yesterday) Rachel and i decided to go on a group ride with one of the biggest clubs in Silicon Valley: Alto Velo. Their website claimed that this ride (the saturday ‘B’ ride) was the easiest ride they do. It preached that if you wanted to hammer (go really fast), that this was not the ride for you. This ride was all about doing a steady pace and not dropping anyone, and that new riders were welcome to join. Rachel and i decided it would be a good ride to join for our first. We meet at Peet’s coffee shop in Los Altos to find that the bike price per capita of the 40 or so people waiting for the ride to start is very high. Thats a bad sign, but then again this is silicon valley. Then we notice that about 80% of the people have their legs shaved (a sign of a very serious cyclist). Number of older guys: very low. Number of people who don’t look super fit: zero. Number of women: Rachel. We start out on the flats and the groups rockets out to 23 mph (Rachel and i normally average about 17mph). We hang on while the group goes across the flats. Then we hit the hills of the Santa Cruz mountains and the pace doesn’t fall at all. Rachel and i get shot out the back and are left to do the rest of the ride on our own. It sucked. Rachel didn’t talk to me for a while during the ride. Then she got a flat tire and we just acknowledged that this was going to be a terrible day on the bike. So we laughed at it and slow poked our way back to Los Altos, where we ate lunch at a place that had Chicken pot pie to make up for the crap day. It tasted so good.

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