Reporting Kurtis Ming
AMGEN Tour of California
Dates: May 13 to May 20
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America’s premier cycling race, AMGEN Tour of California pedals through Northern California in four of its eight stages. From the beautiful coastal areas of Half Moon Bay in Stage 2 to the Mount Diablo climb in Stage 3, the riders will cover hundreds of miles of Nor Cal terrain. Considered one of the best organized races in the world, the AMGEN promises an exciting week for racers and spectators alike.
Stage 1 – Sun, May 13
The first day of the AMGEN begins and ends in Santa Rosa. Cyclers will push their pedals 115.9-miles through the city. The Santa Rosa route includes two laps around the city, a ride through the roads of Sonoma County vineyards toward the town of Occidental and two sprints, one in Santa Rosa and the other on the highway. Their climb the top of Fort Ross Road will lead them to downward course on California’s coastal Highway 1. Cyclers complete their day on 16 miles of road through the redwoods and return to the finish line in Santa Rosa.
Stage 2 – Mon, May 14
The second day, racers will embark on their 117.1-mile journey from the San Francisco’s Marina District surrounded by city landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Angel Island. Their day again takes them to Highway 1. Heading south, the riders will encounter Devil’s Slide and Half Moon Bay with three sprints as they pass Pacifica, Half Moon Bay and Summit Road. The day-two course ends with a descent into Santa Cruz County with the finish line in the city of Aptos on Soquel Avenue.
Stage 3 – Tues, May 15
Diving into day three with a departure from San Jose, cyclers will pedal 115.3-miles past the city start through Calaveras Road and Highway 84 toward the city of Livermore, where a sprint is on the schedule. In this stage, riders will meet their first ascent up Mount Diablo. Once over the top, a drop will find the riders in Walnut Creek and continue on toward the finish on North Livermore Avenue in historic downtown Livermore. This follows their final miles up Patterson Pass Road and back down a familiar AMGEN path on Cross and Tesla roads. Last year the riders U-Jam Fitness met riders here with a flash mob.
Stage 4 – Wednesday, May 16
Facing the longest stretch of the AMGEN, riders will begin spinning their wheels in Sonora, the gateway to Yosemite National Park, and travel 130.2 miles through three sprints in Mariposa, Oakhurst and Friant. This year’s Sonora blast off will be a first time the race runs through the city. Continuing on their southbound trek, the cyclers will travel historic Highway 49 with spectacular river and mountain views. Finishing their day in the city of Clovis may be an exercise in off-roading as it was in 2009, when snow and ice covered the roads.
Stage 5 to 8 – May 17 to May 20
The AMGEN heads into the central and southern part of the Golden State in Stages 5 to 8. Stage 5 begins and ends in Bakersfield and is the shortest course in the AMGEN, at 18.4-miles, which includes an individual time trial. The city of Palmdale will kick off Stage 6 with two sprints. It ends at Big Bear Lake 115.7-miles later. With 78.3-miles and one sprint in Stage 7, the riders will begin in the city of Ontario and wrap up the day at Mount Baldy. The conclusion of the race will be set in motion in Beverly Hills, run 44.7-miles, and draw to a close with a sprint to the finish line in the City of Angles.
There is no better seat in the house for spectators than at the Lifestyle Festival located near the finish line at each stage It is the place to be on race day. Each Stage hosts its own festival and features a variety of sponsors and vendors that are relevant to the area near the finish line. Some scheduled events include a health and fitness expo, cancer awareness education, cycling gear expos and sales, biking safety and activities for the whole family. While food and entertainment vary throughout the Amgen stage areas, each stop will have a host of choices available.
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Jody Only is a freelance writer with credits on a variety of Internet and print publications. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.