May 15, 2012

Tour of California

We were able to catch a stage of the Tour of California again this year. Stage 3 of the tour this year started in San Jose, went up through part of Mt. Diablo and ended in Livermore. People in the area have been waiting for years for the tour to go to Mt. Diablo and although it didn't go all the way up to the summit it was still exciting to have the route go through a place we know well. Mt. Diablo is a State Park with lots of hiking and mountain biking trails and a campground. The road up through the park is always busy with cyclists. We've hiked at the park before (Balancing RockFalls Trail) and have camped there as well. When the route for the stage was released we knew we definitely wanted to make it to the finish in downtown Livermore and decided to try to see them on Mt. Diablo as well.  We decided to ride to the park from a friends house who lives a few miles away. After about seven miles of riding we starting climbing. Not doing much riding I was a bit concerned about how I would do and got even more worried when my thighs starting burning at the bottom of the climb. Once the climbing began the discomfort continued but I had the  reassurance that we would only go as far as I could. I climbed up with a mountain bike but it was very light in weight so that helped. There were tons of other people there as well, lots of them passing me by but I did manage to pass a few. After a few miles we stopped for a break. After water and some energy chews we started climbing again and then we saw signs for the KOM (King of the Mountain). We decided to try to get to that point and after a few more tough miles we made it!! There were lots of other people there; some cycling groups and others who had driven up earlier and set up to watch the tour. At this point we had ridden about 14 miles.
We hung out for a little while and took some pictures. It was getting warm and I was glad that I took my CamelBak. We scouted out a place to wait and watch for the riders and found a section of the shoulder of the road that was empty- we had it all to ourselves. We had our PB&J sandwiches and waited in the heat. We were lucky that someone was giving out free ice cream at that time-they were promoting their product and we had jasmine flavored popsicles that surprisingly tasted really good. After waiting a little longer the breakaway came by, then the peloton. It's amazing how fast they ride. As soon as the road was open to us we started making our way down the mountain. This was a new situation for me-descending. I hadn't really thought about it before since I didn't think we would actually climb that much. I made good use of my brakes as I flew down the mountain. There were a few sketchy curves but I managed to stay upright. It helped that the road had very few cars and was taken over mostly by cyclists who could maneuver around me. Back down at the bottom of the mountain we rode back to the house. After just under 30 miles of riding we were back at our starting point..  I couldn't believe I had ridden that far, and up/down part of Mt. Diablo. We were soon in the car and heading over to Livermore. We parked downtown, just a few blocks from the finish. We made it in time to check out some of the booths before trying to elbow our way to a view of the finish. We didn't have a good view but did see the riders just after they crossed the finish line and as they headed to their team cars. We made our way by the team cars and took some pictures before heading back to our car. The tour riders completed 115.3 miles, but I did my own ride of just under 30 miles in under three hours and it felt great. It was a great day with an amazing ride and great Tour of California stage route. Can't wait until next year!

Amgen Tour of California Website
Our Tour of California 2011 post
Our Tour of California 2009 post