For those of you who are not familiar with the seasons in Northern California, we have four of them. They are Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall. Spring is cool and wet, Summer is warm and dry, Fall is cool and dry, and Winter is cold and wet. It's true...
"Brilliant, Jimbo" I can hear Drew thinking. "That's the way it is everywhere, you stupid git. Now stop wasting our time and show us some more pictures of French showgirls. And get me another Dogfish Head Punkin Ale and another can of wasabi peas, chop chop."
Shut your pie hole, Drewd, and listen up. Prepare your mind for the receiving of some knowledge! And grab a number 2 pencil, because you might want to take notes...
Here in Northern California, we have the same seasons as they do elsewhere in 'merica and down in Southern California (which, FYI, is actually part of Mexico), but the special NorCal twist is that our seasons do not occur in the regular order, or at the correct time of year. Or even just once per year. Confused? Just wait...
Up here, your Spring is our Winter and/or our Summer, your Fall is usually our Summer, your Summer is sometimes our Winter and/or our Fall, and your Winter is, well, it's almost always our Winter too, except for when it's our Spring or Fall. Everyone got it? Good. Pencils down...
Now why am I
wasting your time teaching you this? Mainly because I am bored as shit at work, but also because today marked the official announcement of the 2012 ToC schedule and host cities! Also, this will help you understand why they no longer hold the race in February and also why they will never again go to Tahoe unless they hold the race in August. Now here's the list...
Stage 1: Sunday, May 13 – Santa Rosa
Stage 2: Monday, May 14 – San Francisco to Santa Cruz County
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 15 – San Jose to Livermore
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 16 – Sonora (new for 2012) to Clovis
Stage 5: Thursday, May 17 – Bakersfield (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 6: Friday, May 18 – Palmdale to Big Bear Lake
Stage 7: Saturday, May 19 – Ontario (new for 2012) to Mt. Baldy
Stage 8: Sunday, May 20 – Los Angeles/L.A. LIVE
Now comes the crack analysis part...
Stage 1 - Santa Rosa. Everything old is new again, which in this case is probably a good thing. The Santa Rosa stage has been one of my favorites over the years, despite regular torrential downpours, massive field crashes, and weird, race-deciding neutralization decisions favoring the wee-man and Santa Rosa resident himself, Levi Leipheimer. Despite all that, the nice people of Santa Rosa host an excellent stage, with tons of enthusiastic fans who turn-out in all sorts of weather, and are very nice. Not to mention the excellent food in the press room.
Stage 2 - SF to Santa Cruz "County"? SF is good but please, please, please start someplace besides Ocean Beach because taking the race to SF and starting it at Ocean Beach makes about as much sense as going to Disneyland on vacation and spending the entire day hanging around in the parking lot. Yes, "technically" you're at Disneyland, but your pictures are gonna suck. And Santa Cruz "County" probably means not Santa Cruz the city, which is fine with me.
Stage 3 - San Jose to Livermore. This is that stage where they climb Sierra Road three hours before the teevee coverage begins and then end with a group sprint through the streets of Livermore. We have seen this stage before. It was better going the other direction, IMHO.
Stage 4 - Sonora to Clovis? Fuck if I know... Meth country to the suburbs of Fresno via the foothills of the Sierra? The scenery is gorgeous, so maybe that's it. Could be climby and interesting but will probably just end in another bunch sprint that someone who is not American will win.
Stage 5 - Bakersfield ITT. Given the climbs that will follow in stages 6 and 7, this day will not decide the winner, which is good. So please, please let them do it in that scorched earth, post apocalyptic looking oil field that they rode past two years ago! That would totally kick ass! They could get those guys from the Mad Max movies and use those chase cars and end it in some sort of flame spouting Thunder Dome thing! Just imagine! Hey Amgen people, if you're reading this, you can use that idea free of charge. You're welcome.
Stage 6 - Palmdale to Big Bear. Speaking of ass kicking, two years ago, this stage kicked everyones' ass including a then 14 year-old Peter Sagan. It will be long and painful with lots of climbing and few spectators along the route. Nobody will win the race this day, but several people may lose it. That sounded like a fortune cookie.
Stage 7 - Ontario to Mt. Baldy. Basically, they took last years decisive stage and added 10 miles to it, which, oddly, will not factor in significantly one way or the other. And the odds are excellent that those extra 10 will be flat and ugly since it's Ontario, ahem, but still, this is the day that matters. The winner will emerge this day. Do not be surprised if you see the patented Chris Horner pain-smile or the patented Levi Leipheimer motor-pace metronome of monotony.
Stage 8 - Downtown LA circuit race. Good idea. I approve. Should be a nice ending.
That's about enough out of me. Discuss.