After some unfortunate logistics I was forced to resort to Vs. television coverage of Stage 2 from Davis to Santa Rosa. However, I got back on track for Stage 3 – heading out by bus, then train, then another bus from Sacramento to Santa Cruz for the finish.
One of the first things I noticed – Santa Cruz is “way bikey.” In fact, just from my impressions that one day, I think Santa Cruz has Davis beat in daily bike usage. It is also a little more relaxed on the bike front – more “european” if you will. By that I mean there is a bigger emphasis on the utilitarian nature of the bike. A lot of casually dressed (read: no lycra) hat headed (read: no helmet) cruiser and cargo bikes with riders going about their daily lives. After meeting up with local bike celebrity (or maybe that is celebrity bicycle tracker) Cyclelicious, I asked him if the amount of bike traffic was normal for the town, or more a result of the fact that a major bike race was in town. He assured me that the bikes were a completely normal part of everyday life. I believe that is true – especially after I started to look around and noticed how many places in town had bike racks or bike lockers available. Clearly there was demand for places to keep bikes – which means clearly there are folks out on bikes.
But on to the racing…
It was an interesting course to the finish line in Santa Cruz. There was a final, sharp turn at 150m before the finish line. It is actually probably good that the groups broke up going over Bonny Doon about 30Km or so before the finish. I imagine this corner could have been really really nasty for any bunched finish. After some scouting from the cargo rack of a particular Santa Cruz area resident’s ride, I ended up passing on photo spots further up from the finish and parked myself at the 200m mark – just before that final turn. Unfortunately, my love the using the bowling alley as a backdrop for my photos overrode my “sun sense” and as a result most of my photos turned out washed out and riddled with lens flare. I opted for stills instead of video with my GoPro hero – a decision I now regret. All that said, however, it was a fantastic finish. Zabriskie, Leipheimer
and Rogers came in first as a group of three going full boar. I did manage to get a grainy shot of Jens Voigt (yes – I’m a Saxo Bank fan) at the front of the chase group, and also caught some great photos of one of the Team Type 1 riders.
Finally, the Team Radio Shack once again did their “Turn around and cool down by riding backwards from the finish line” gig, resulting in this shot of Jose Luis Rubiera Vigi:
As well as a mostly blurry shot of Mr. Armstrong:
All in all an awesome day – great racing and an exciting finish.