On Monday, at the end of our family weekend trip to the coast, we got a chance to see part of the Amgen Tour of California. This race is now the biggest cycling event in the United States, and attracts the best cyclists in the world. We had spent the weekend staying the Hostel at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, which is about twenty miles south of Half Moon Bay on the coast. It’s a gorgeous location, and I highly recommend a visit! The weather had been pretty dramatic through most of the weekend… lots of rain falling, combined with very high winds. I was trying to imagine those cyclists riding on those conditions.
On Monday, after we check out of the hostel, we set ourselves up on highway 1, ready to see the second stage of the race (Sausalito to Santa Cruz). We waited for about an hour, and finally the CHP closed of the highway completely, and the first group of ten riders came down the road. A few minutes later, the main peloton arrived, and it was a incredible sight, with dozens of riders and their support vehicles following closely behind. Behind the main group was a smaller group of three riders from the Astana team… In the middle was Lance Armstrong in his telltale yellow & black helmet, riding in support of Levi Leipheimer (see photo).
About 200 yards past our point, there was suddenly a big commotion, and everything stopped. Evidently, a cyclist had hit a spectator’s car on the side of the highway, and a number of other riders piled up (some witnesses guessed about thirty) as well. It was amazing how quickly replacement bikes were pulled off of support cars and riders were went on their way… all under a minute or so. Fortunately, no one appeared to have been injured.
When we had gotten up to the spot of the pile-up, we noticed water bottles from the pro teams that had been involved in the crash on the highway. So we managed to collect half-a-dozen souvenirs before heading back to our car. By this point the weather had completely cleared, and the last group of riders came through. And I have a Team Quickstep water-bottle… I’m sure it belonged to Tom Boonen…
Though brief, our encounter with the Tour of California was thrilling and fun. A little while after the race passed us, Levi Leipheimer jumped into the lead on the Bonny Doone climb (you can see video on the TofC website), to take the lead of the race and the yellow jersey. We’re all hoping he’s on his way to a third TofC victory!!