More detiails of the route of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California are becoming available. The official route announcement is scheduled to begin on February 9th wit the information on several stages to be made public each day over the following four days.
It appears that the route for Stage 3, San Francisco to Santa Cruz, will take in four significant climbs. The first will be Tunitas Creek which will be followed by a sharp descent down King's Mountain Road into Silicon Valley. After only about a mile in the valley, it will head back up Highway 84, a 3-mile, 1000 ascent to the town of Skylonda which is at the junction of Highway 84 and Highway 35(Skyline Boulevard). The route will continue down Highway 84, but unlike last year, it will turn onto Pescadereo Road just past the town of La Honda and ascend Haskins HIll a 2-mile 600-foot climb.
The stage will continue on Pescadero Road out to Highway 1. From there the route will be the same as last year including the final climb of Bonny Doon Road.
The all important stage 7 time trial will be held in downtown Los Angeles, starting and ending at AEG's(the owner of the AToC) Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings. The course is 21 miles in length and shaped like a barbell, two loop on either end of a straight section connnecting them. Beside visiting the Los Angeles Civic Center, it will also visit the USC campus and the LA Ciliseum. The course has a lot of ups and down including the notoriously steep Figuero Road.
Stage 8 will be held in the Santa Monica Mountains in and around the Thousand Oaks area which is the headquarters for the race's sponsor Amgen. The meat of the stage will be four laps of a 21-mile loop which includes the popular local climb called Rock Store a 2-mile ascent averaging 7%. The loop also contains a long section on Mullholand Highway and a screaming, technical descent down Westlake Boulevard back to Thousand Oaks. Agoura Road will take the riders back to the start of the climbing on the loop. There will be 7000 feet of total climbing on this stage which could be decisive given the sharp climbs, the narow roads and the technical dscending (down grades up to 15%).
One interesting note is the that on-course TV work will be performed by the same French crew which brings you those stunning pictures during the Tour de France. The race organizers have a partnership with the Tour de France organiers, ASO, which undoubtedly is one reason the entire French TV motorcycle crew will be coming to California to help broadcast the race.
Sports history was made on Sunday as Kelly Kulick became the first woman to win a men's Professional Bowler's Association event, the 45th Tournament of Champions. I know a few years ago ultra-distance runner Ann Trason beat some men in an ultra run competition, but this is a much more significant event given the depth of competition in bowling, and more specifically, professional bowling.
What is also significant is that unlike other professional sports like golfing, the women compete on exactly the same setup as the men. There are no "women's tees" like there are in golf. The bowling pins aren't closer together or lighter for the women. It is exactly the same equipment as the men. So, chalk one up for the ladies.
Of course, there is the bigger picture discussion as to whether bowling really is a sport. I was disappointed to learn that the normal bowling balls have an especially-designed center to give the ball the curving motion so necessary to roll a strike. That's why bowling aficionados have a special ball which rolls straight for picking up spares. Is that fair?
But, in the end there are enough factors in the plus column that we can probably call bowling a sport. Just try telling someone from Wisconsin that kegglers aren't true athletes.
BTW, the reason I am talking about bowling rather than cycling is that the Tour Down Under going on in Australia this week was a bit of a snoozer. Except for Cadel Evans' big attack on Old Willunga Hill (and it is a hill and not a mountain), the HTC-Columbia team took over where they left off last year and totally dominated the race with Andre Greipel winning three of the six stages en-route to victory.
You can't really blame an early season race for being a bit boring. Most riders are using an event such as this to hone their racing form for the bigger events coming up later in the year. But, the organizers could throw some challenges into a couple more of the stages to break things up a bit.
It has been really crummy weather here in the San Francisco Bay Area as of late as winter storm after winter storm keep rolling in and drenching us. I am getting pretty tired of hearing that we need the rain. That is clearly being spoken by people who are candidates for the next edition of NBC's Biggest Loser. If you are an active, outdoorsperson you clearly don't want to be participating in your favorite hobby in the midst of a hurricane.a
OK. Some of you might say, but all this rain brings snows to the Sierra Nevada and if you are an outdoorsperson(is that a word?) then you welcome the weather so you can ski. But, let's get real. Have you ever tried driving up to the Lake Tahoe area when a major winter storm is lashing California. There are some really snow-challenged people out there. I have even seen people putting snow chains on the rear tires of a front-wheel drive car.
Then there are the knuckleheads who think the term SUV means "I can drive my vehicle anywhere at any speed in any weather." Even when they end up in a ditch, they still think it was just fate and that their SUV is still the safest car out there.
But, I digress. The reason why I am writing is that I tried to get out on a ride today when the weather seemed to be clearing only to get hammered by the next round of thunderstorms as they rolled through. I am not blaming the weathermen. The had predicted showers for the whole week. I just thought there was a bit of a lull in the storms and I could sneak in a ride. My bad. Hmmm. Maybe if I had been driving an SUV....
Anyway, as I was cruising along on Alpine Road going through the shopping center at Ladera Oaks (for you locals) I saw a road sign on a metal pole which had been bent down into the roadway. Clearly, a car driver (SUV perhaps?) had hit the sign and it was now out into the shoulder where bikes ride. I stopped and tried to bend it back into place, but the pole was bent too severely and the concrete footing was well embedded in the ground.
This was clearly a very big hazard to cyclists and in the pouring rain I just couldn't figure out what to do. As I rode away disconcertingly I noticed a construction zone a few hundred yards ahead. I borrowed one of the many, neon traffic cones, rode back and placed it in front of the downed sign.
Hopefully, I made the world a bit safer for my fellow cyclists which is the real reason why I am writing. If you are out there either during or after a major storm, take a 'bigger picture' view and help out your fellow cyclists by removing any hazardous debris from the roadway or bike lane. As Earl Hickey says, it's all about karma.
Details of stage 3 of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California are starting to become available. Last year's stage from Sausalito to Santa Cruz looked to be shortened for 2010 as the stage will start on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. In order to make up some of the reduced distance and give the stage a bit more punch, it appears that the 2010 edition of the route will include as least one more major climb, Page Mill Road, and potentially a smaller ascent, Haskins Hill, as well.
The first climb of the stage will be the same as in 2009. Tunitas Creek Road is an 8-mile, 2000-foot ascent with a 1.8 mile stretch mid-climb which averages in the 9% range.
In 2009, the race turned right on Highway 35 and after four miles turned right onto Highway 84 for the fifteen mile, mostly downhill, run back to the coast and Highway 1.
In 2010, it appears that the race will not turn right on Highway 35, but will instead head down into Silicon Valley on Kings Mountain Road, a 4.5-mile, 1500 foot technical descent through California redwoods. At the bottom of the climb, the race will head south for five to seven miles of rolling terrain, the exact route yet to be determined, to the base of Page Mill Road.
Page Mill Road is an 8-mile, 1800-foot climb that is popular with Bay Area cyclists. It is stair stepped in nature with many steep, 10-15%, pitches and even a few flat and downhill sections. Mid-climb is a 3/4-mile stretch which sports consistent grades of 12-15%.
At the top of Page Mill Road, the race will most like continue down Alpine Road, a twisty, technical, seven-mile 1800-foot descent with several very tight turns right at the bottom. From there, the race has two options. It can continue out to the coast on Highway 84 as it did last year, it is about seven flat miles to the coast.
The other option is to climb the two-mile, 600-foot Haskins Hill and follow Pescadero Road out to Highway 1. The descent of Haskins Hill is another high-speed, technical affair. It can be slick at the bottom.
Once in the town of Pescadero, the race can continue out to Highway 1 or it can turn left onto Cloverdale Road and follow that for seven, mostly flat miles out to the coast and Highway 1. Regardless of the route taken, from the top of Page Mill Road, it is about 40 miles to the bottom to the finishing climb of Bonny Doon Road.
The exact route details will be available soon, but it appears that the 2010 version of this stage will contain about 2500-3000' feet of additional climbing over the 2009 edition.
2010 looks to be the year of the Gran Fondo(GF). There are over 20 GF's already announced and more are popping up every day. If there isn't a GF in your area, just wait 15 minutes. Things are likely to change.
I am a bit worried about the proliferation of Gran Fondos. These are not supposed to be just century rides where they keep track of a rider's elapsed time and publish a list of results. A GF is more than just a 'timed century'. These events are supposed to be an altogether different experience.
If we take the Gran Fondo Colnago San Diego as an example, we see that the ride begins with a mass start. Also, two-time World Road Champion, Paolo Bettini, will be there to ride and also help start the event. There is Prosecco wine to accompany the gourmet food at the finish. All these things and a few other factors create a very unique experience.
Just don't take my word for it, talk to anybody who rode the two Gran Fondos held in the US last year, Gran Fondo Colnago San Diego and the Levi Leipheimer King's Ridge Gran Fondo and they will tell you that it is something different. No, this isn't just the show up and start whenever you want, ride with a bunch of nobodies and then get your chili and beer at the finish. This is a mass-start, ride with pros and dine on gourmet food and wine experience.
The Colnago and Leipheimer events set the bar pretty high which is why I am worried about what will happen when Gran Fondo mania hits the US in 2010. I am hoping that event organizers aren't just attaching the Gran Fondo tag to their offerings in hopes of attracting more attention. Organizers need to seriously upgrade their food, sign on some big names and get co-operation from local authorities to allow a safe mass start for an organized ride to even begin to be a Gran Fondo.
Let's hope that new events will follow the lead of the San Diego and Leipheimer events and bring a new cycling experience to US riders. It should be a lot of fun.
It is a new year and that means it is time for a few resolutions. I am not going to bore you with the 'lose weight', 'ride more', 'train harder', 'win the Tour de France' and all those other cliche and mundane resolutions. These are big, earth shattering, life changing, global planet resolutions/wishes.
-buy a clue for the UCI. Every year I do this, but every year the UCI seems to lose it. I just don't understand how the governing body of our sport can continue to make such bonehead moves as dumping the individual pursuit from the Olympics.
-get a peace pipe for Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador. Enough already. The Tour was finished five months ago and you haven't ridden together, or against, each other since. Here's an idea. Let your legs do the talking.
-find Floyd Landis a team. OK. The big rumour is that Floyd is going to Rock Racing and that is probably true, but let's give him one more chance to put the events of 2006 behind him and get back to rocking it on the bike.
-get the World Road Championships moved back to late August/early September. The titles shouldn't go to riders who don't have anything better to do in October.
-push for the USA to have a national tour like the Tour de France. This may seem to be a bit provincial, but let's lose the Tour of Georgia, Tour of Missouri and Tour of Utah and just let the awesome Tour of California become, like the Dallas Cowboys, America's Tour.
-get women's cycling some more credibility. While the men's ranks are loaded with depth, women's racing really suffers from depth of field. We need to attract more quality female riders to the sport which will make those victories both much more deserving and also exciting.
-get more cycling on TV. It is great that NBC Universal Sports has stepped in to pick up the slack as Versus seems to want to focus more on getting more high profile sports, but both of these channels are now owned by cable giant Comcast. We need to get cycling on the four major networks so we can all watch and not have to become tools of the Comcast empire.