Spectating at the Tour of California

The actual course routes for the Tour of California have been announced. I gave it a quick scan and I can give you the great spectator spots to check out the race.

Prologue: Same as last year. Get on Telegraph Hill as close to the top as possible. But don’t stand behind the finish line like some people did. Photographers will be blocking your view and all you’ll see is the back of my head. You can yell at me all you like and I’m still not going to move!

Stage One: Get up to Coleman Valley Road climb and then jump in the car and watch the peloton do three laps in downtown Santa Rosa. This town went nuts when Levi rolled through! I’m sure it will happen again.

Stage Two: This is a new course, so I don’t have any first hand knowledge. According to the course description 12 miles into the stage there is a good climb, which gives you the opportunity to watch the riders suffer going over the top. Then jump into your rental and drive to Sacramento to watch the peloton do three laps downtown. At least that’s what we are going to do.

Stage Three: This stage is a combination of a new route and old. After rolling through Tracy and Livermore it hits the most difficult climb of the race, the Category One Sierra Road climb in San Jose. My advice is to get to the climb early, break out the chalk and write words of encouragement for your favorite rider. Or you can go Euro style and draw a huge penis on the road.

Stage Four: This is a beautiful stage. However, as a spectator I think the best spot is to go to the finish and watch the field sprint. The course, while the longest of the race, isn’t tough enough to blow things apart. If you decide to sit on one of the climbs, like we did last year, all you’ll see is the group come flying by. See the start and then drive directly to San Luis Obispo. Thursday night that town comes alive. As in most college towns, Thursday night is really the start of the weekend because who schedules classes for Friday?

Stage Five: This new time trial stage starts and ends in Solvang. As a spectator it’s cool to see the riders warming up and maybe grab an autograph. Then go to the short steep hill and watch them suffer. To get around on the course bring your hiking boots or your bike.

Stage Six: This is a tough stage. Go see the action unfold on the last climb of the day, Balcom Canyon. In 2006, nearly 10,000 fans formed a narrow corridor for the riders. Tim was lucky enough to see that action first hand and it was epic! To secure a prime location get there the day before and party that night like the Dutch on the Alpe d’ Huez! If you try to crash that party the day of, you’re going to be out of luck.

Stage Seven: This is a stage I’m personally excited about. As a resident of Long Beach I know that the city has thrown its weight behind this stage. In fact, Long Beach wants this stage to be a permanent fixture for the Tour of California. If rumors are correct, they are planning on having a race on the course Saturday.

The best spots to watch: the finish line on Shoreline Drive. The field will be hitting maximum velocity as they jockey for the stage win. Plus, there are plenty of places to eat and drink nearby. I’m putting my money on fellow Long Beach resident Tony Cruz or J.J. Haedo for the stage win.

The big question; will Floyd Landis be racing in February? I hope so and I plan on asking him that question very soon.

What to bring as a spectator:
1. Plenty of water
2. Snacks (granola, Red Vines, beef jerky are the best)
3. Sun tan lotion. I learned that lesson the hard way.
4. Latest issue of ROAD Magazine because you’ll have plenty of downtime to read. Also, pros love to autograph the huge pictures of themselves.

Get the full scoop at the official Tour of California site.

One comment

  1. Josh Kadis says:

    As a San Francisco resident, I can say that The City has not thrown its weight behind this stage. But I will. Details TBD, but think about deliciousness on wheels…

    And Neil, I have to disagree with you on one point: drawing penises on the road is universal.

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