Tour of California Time Trial in Folsom

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I pedaled my Brompton across town and then jumped onto the train from Davis at 9:24 a.m.  I asked the Amtrak conductor for a free transfer onto Light Rail once in Sacramento. Then I rode those rails to the end of the line in Folsom. All in pursuit of a day being a bike racing fan at the Amgen Tour of California. Today’s stage was the 12.5 mile time trial with a start and finish in old town Folsom. I arrived at 11:00 a.m. and spent time in the fan zone checking out the booths and picking up free samples of Jelly Bellys, and an Amgen TOC lanyard. I also bought a “Adios Jens” t-shirt at the Trek Racing Team booth. I also wandered around to get an idea of my viewing options.

At about 95 degrees, not a great day to be the California Bear mascot!
At about 95 degrees, not a great day to be the California Bear mascot!
Amgen Tour of California inspired sugar cookie from Karen's Bakery
Amgen Tour of California inspired sugar cookie from Karen’s Bakery

The start ramp was on Sutter Street right in the heart of old town Folsom. The finish had a challenging 90 degree turn onto Leidesdorff Street 150 meters from the finish. I decided I would stake out a spot along the barrier after I grabbed lunch at Karen’s Bakery. The Bakery is a popular spot for cyclists and the finish was right in front of the outdoor dining space. Karen rented sold out the space at $200 a seat, all you can eat.  That is a good deal, however, I prefer being right on the rails.

I used my REI portable chair and enjoyed almost an hour of time knitting before the race began. The couple next to me went to the race in Sacramento on Sunday. It was fun learning more of the details about that stage. A large television screen across the road began broadcasting the race at 2:00 p.m. The first rider left the gate at 1:05 and it took over 26 minutes to finish. Thus began the ritual of cheering 128 riders approximately every minute or so.

The last time I watched an Amgen TOC time trial was in Sacramento. I was able to download the order of riders and take a printed copy so I could track our progress. I went to the Amgen welcome center and got a program. They said the order of riders is on the “Tour Tracker” application. I had downloaded the app the day before, so I found the list, only it did not include the rider’s numbers and when they left the gate the disappeared from the list, so it wasn’t helpful for knowing when your favorite riders would be riding to the finish. Nonetheless, our fan group at about 125 meters enjoyed ourselves. We especially enjoyed competing to see who could catch the riders with our cameras.

Sir Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky
Sir Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky

As the afternoon wore on the riders finished in faster and faster times. 24:02 was the time to beat until Bradley Wiggins started his time trial. This is only the second stage and the first stage ended in a bunch sprint, so Mark Cavendish was wearing the yellow jersey and was last to ride. Of the general classification riders, the favorites are Bradley Wiggins and Taylor Phinney. The winner of the Olympic Gold Medal and the Tour de France 2012 decides to make a statement and he blistered the course. I am surprised I caught him on film. He finished in 23:18. Taylor Phinney rode well and placed third in the time trial but is now chasing Wiggins by 52 seconds.Mark Cavendish

The final rider is one of my favorites: Mark Cavendish, aka the Manx Missile. I only caught the beginning of his bike, though in this shot you can see the television screen and the barriers more clearly. No one expected Cavendish to stay in the yellow jersey but there is something about being the leader and as often happens he rode the best time trial of his career.

At this point I had to decide whether to stay and watch the awards or head to the Bike Valet and pick up my Brompton and catch the Light Rail back to the Sacramento Valley Train Station. After all of the sun, I was ready to head home. Great day and a great reminder of why I love watching cycling live.

Prepping for Le Tour

I rode out towards Winters about 8 a.m. The sun was shining and the farmers were already plowing and planting transplants. A welcome site in this drought. A red wing blackbird perched on the fence sang in full song as I whizzed by on my new bike, yes NEW road bike. I quietly passed wild turkeys grazing along the side of the trail as the spring sunshine caught the beautiful colors on their feathers. My new Trek Lexa is super fun to ride.

Trek Lexa S in Platinum
Trek Lexa S in Platinum

I bought the bike from Joe at the Freewheeler Bicycle shop in Davis. He did a superb job fitting the bike to me and his colleague helped me learn to use the clipless pedals on the trainer when I picked up the bike. They adjusted the pedals so they are easy to clip in and out. I am still nervous about all of my bike handling skills and gaining confidence with every kilometer.

I am 10 weeks away from my departure for Le Tour de France. I am using Bicycling magazine’s Simple Plan to get in shape. The Simple Plan is a six week training plan by Selene Yeager and Leslie Bonci. It is living up to its name and it pushes me on my gear shifting skills.

In March I set a goal of riding every day for 30 minutes. It was an achievable goal and it motivated me to take Black Beauty to Seattle so I could keep riding. At the end of the 30 days I felt much stronger and comfortable on my bike. I made the pledge to ride everyday in April with the 30DaysofBiking. So 3 days a week I do an interval training ride and the other days I ride to commute or to relax.

Davis Adult School offered a bike repair class and conversational French class–both on Tuesday evenings. I decided that knowing how to repair my bike would be a useful skill for the long haul and not just this summer. We work on our bikes at the workshop at Martin Luther King Continuation High School. I had to laugh though, when I told one of the women who is an accomplished bike mechanic why I wanted to take the class she laughed and said, “You don’t need to know how to change a tire. The ratio of men to women in cycling is so great that all you have to do is wait by the side of the road and someone will fix it for you.” Hmmm. Not my style. Then I met a woman from Montreal who speaks fluent French and she said, “Well you can’t really learn much French in 10 weeks.” All I can say is Theo, our instuctor is a great teacher and I am enjoying the class.

People in my class are fascinated by my Brompton foldable bike. As soon as I am done overhauling Gidget (my beach cruiser) I will watch some more videos on the Brompton website and take it in and practice changing tires and other repairs. I found a great bike shop in San Francisco, Huckleberry Bicycles, that carries Brompton Bikes and parts.

It is getting real.