My experience at the Tour Of California had a tension filled start as I was down with Strep for several days prior to my time to leave and it was a close thing as to wether I was going to be able to go or not. It is never a good sign when the doctor looks at your throat and says "hmmm that is the worst throat I have seen in a long time". Luckily it was early enough that I was able to get it cleared up before time to fly the coop.
I have all my photo's posted online now in my Photobucket account so feel free to browse. Tour Of California - A note that these are the raw photos, they have not been edited just resized for quicker uploading.
After the flip I will give a rundown of my experience as well as showing a few of my favorite photos.
Day 1 (Stage 4) This was my fly in day, the race was a good 4 hours north of Santa Barbara at this point so I had to settle for a cold beer and the sunset on Goleta Pier.
And The Pier Itself
All in all not a bad way to spend your evening as I waited for Nikki's plane to Finally make it in.
Day 2 Stage 5
Stage 5 finished just within a 2 hour or so driving range so we determined that we could make it after meeting and having a great breakfast with Gav in downtown Santa Barbara. An extremely nice place by the way. Great to get to meet you Gav!! We drove north to Paso Robles for the finish and met up with Jimbo. It was the classic Marco Polo as Nikki talked him in over the phone to our location just after the finish line. We talked for a little and then Jimbo headed off to make use of his VIP pass. Scored us some beer as well!!! Great Job!! Cav came screaming across the line in the first..
Jimbo met with us after the race and may have let the VIP thing go to his head a little...or maybe it was the beer...you decide.
We then went to The hitching Post in Solvang for dinner and it was awesome. See Nikki's post for pictures of that. After that we made the short 45 minute run back to Santa Barbara for soem much needed rest before the big Solvang Stage.
Day 3 Stage 6
We had a secret route into town from SSmith that I must admit as we drove it would have left most people very doubtful if it had not come from a reliable source. As we turned off the freeway onto a "road" it looked like we were going onto someone's driveway. This promptly dropped us into a twisting downhill over the same driveway type of surface. It turned out just like he said though and took us right into downtown by the back way and close to the action. Almost everyone has written about the TT and the After party so I will just suffice it to say that it was everything they said and a lot more fun. Here are soem TT pics that I liked best.
This has to be Thor Hushovd's biggest fan, she moved a course marshall out of her way when he started coming up the hill so she could yell for him. I was so busy watching her and her enthusiasm that I missed getting a shot of Thor.
For the Green Fans - Alessandro Vanotti
Cavendish Looking very cool before he starts the hill.
Christian with a happy smile about to preride the course
and then totally focused on it
Of Course the Versus Crew was there
Day 4 Stage 7
Stage 7 saw us make a run down to Santa Clarita for the start. Nikki, Steph and Lyne took turns running down the riders for autographs in the book. They were all amazing. In between her charity work Lyne actually managed to get some ground work in for more of her great articles.
The guys rolled out in orderly fashion to the cheers of yet another HUGE crowd.
After the stage started the PdC crew enjoyed great food and beer for lunch and then split up to go our seperate ways. I headed south to catch the finish that had cicuits around the Rose Bowl. A break dominated the day and took it all the way to the line.
The Astana led peloton chased hard
Day 5 Stage 8
The crowds gathered in Rancho Bernardo for the start of the final stage. Due to time constraints I only made it to the start but it was worht it as I heard my favorite quote of the whole week. I was standing by the fence waiting when an older lady came up to me and started asking questions about the race. The best was by far "What team are we on?" to which I responded it depended which team was your favorite. She thought about this for a minute and then said "So what team is Lance on?" to which I had to point out he was on Levi's team.
Quickstep gets held up trying to cross the street
Even Big George had to wait
This guy was serious
and for Dan
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All in all I enjoyed the whole thing immensely and cannot wait for next year.
VIVA LA PODIUM CAFE!!!