Monday, May 23, 2011

Tour of California

I watched most of the Pour of California this year and I was really impressed with the Medalist, the organizer of the Tour of California. When I was a young lad growing up in the Bay Area we rode most of the roads that are currently used in the ToC. A ride up to Mount Hamilton was about 100 miles for us as we had to ride across San Jose and then up to the top and then return. There was no public transportation you could take a bike on back then and even if there was we would not have used it as riding was the point. When we found Sierra Road we thought that was cool. I doesn't really go anywhere you see, but it was steep. To put a mountain top finish up there would not be easy as there is nothing up there, they would have to take over the whole road and of course get permission from the people who live there. Something like us using Skyline road for our Cascade Cycling Classic only even more difficult. When Chris Horner read about the this finish he was excited as he realized the ToC had become a real race in the sense of the Grand Tours. Throw in Mt Baldy and the ToC was a perfect place for the almost 40 year old to shine, and shine he did. What he did came as no surprise to anyone who was at all close to Chris. He lost some weight, he trained hard, and he hinted that he was ready. He already proved last year that he can be the strongest rider on Radio Shack by finishing 10th at the tour, after acting as head support for his leaders who all faded away at the end. So yes I loved the Tour of California and all of its stages. That being said it could be better if it was held in the time of year where the real mountains of California (the Sierra Nevada) are free of snow. Those are the mountains that can rival the the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites for scenery and mountain roads. I am not sure that will ever happen or even if it needs to happen.
Phil at one point said Mt Baldy was like going into the Pyrenees or the Dolomites. I have to differ, as wonderful as the ToC was it did not rival the Grand Tours for mountains. I have included a couple of photos make my point. There is a reason thousands of us travel to Europe every year to ride the magical roads they have over there. The best way I can explain it is to say the roads in Europe are like single track for road bikes, our roads are mostly double track. In the Giro yesterday Nibaly, who is one of the best descenders attacked at the top of one of the passes and gained a minute on the downhill. This would not happen on our roads, they are too straight. The top photo is the ToC, and the middle is the Giro. Thanks for reading

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