30 May 2010

Pictures from 2010 Tour of California, Part Trois

Stage 8 Tour of California, Final stage in Westlake Village, CA

We had received VIP passes to stage 8 of the Tour of California, thanks to Dr Kaplan, a friend of my Dad's who has contributed greatly to my nephew's triathlon career by providing his time trial bike, his road bike, and arranging time with swim coaches. On this day, Dr Kaplan was giving Kenny two free passes to the Rabobank VIP tent in Westlake Village for the final stage of the 2010 Tour of California, and he invited me, his Aunt to go with him. We were both so excited, we were legitimately going to have a VIP experience (as opposed to jumping the barriers as we usually do), and it would be free!

Kenny decided to start the morning by riding his bike from the back side of Camarillo where my parents live to Westlake Village, CA over Protrero Rd to the Finish Village. He took off ....
He arrived 1hr 20 mins later into Westlake, and quickly decided to ride to the Start area. I walked around the Finish area before we picked up our VIP passes with excitement. The first sign that this would be an excellent day was the perfect weather, the second sign was the layout of Westlake. The folks of Westlake Village did an excellent job in planning for the Tour to visit their small town. This day was meant for the spectators. Our previous day in Los Angeles was not at all meant for spectators, it was designed primarily for rider safety, and then for VIP access. VIP access frustratingly limited the movement of the fans at Stage 7 in Los Angeles. That was not true about Stage 8 in Westlake Village. Everyone had fun.
Our VIP experience was fantastic however. Free food, open bar, enthusiastic friendly fans, shade, yummy cheesecake, and live TV and Tour Tracker. Kenny was surprised to find a fellow Berkeley Triathlete friend Sebastian at the race. I think together these two ate 20 tacos.
A tale of our day at Stage 8 of the ATOC:

We were located at the Finish line area.
Because the Final Stage 8 was a circuit race, we had plenty of time in between to eat, drink, meet people and walk around. We saw this actor guy walk by (Patrick Dempsey)...
We cheered as the riders took their second lap
Fabian Cancellara came by
We walked down to the feed zone ...  we saw Mark Renshaw ride up. He casually stood by watching the race, non of the spectators bothered him. I was happy with these two to my right.
and Kenny to my left.
This was the relaxed feeling of the day, Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish (who had ridden the course earlier in the morning) hung around nearby talking with friends and fans as the race was going on in the street in front of us. The thing about California, is no one realizes who these riders are. I think the riders especially enjoy California because the weather is good, the hotels are fine, the transfers aren't too long, and the fans are not claustrophobic.
The break on the 3rd lap ...
In our shaded VIP tent we watched the attacks on the final lap Live on TV.
We ran to the barriers to see the final sprint across the finish line (Kenny is standing behind Hennie Kuiper who also happened to be in our Rabobank VIP tent area, and is also sitting in front of Kenny in the photo above).
We watched as Ryder Hesjedal took the win of Stage 8.
We cheered for Andy Schleck coming across the line.
After the race, the riders who needed to collect their awards at the stage area, rode or walked by ... Peter Sagan (sprint jersey winner) passed by.
This is where the story really gets good. Kenny and I entered onto the road at our VIP area, and walked inside the barriers, down to the VIP area. We stood directly behind the camera men.
We stood and watched the awards. We were so close we had to step back repeatedly every time they opened the champagne. These are my favorite shots and favorite memories of the day. This is the fun part of pro cycling, the celebration at the end of eight days of racing.
and then they went home ...
What a great day at the Tour of California!

28 May 2010

Tour de France - Five Fact Friday

Tour de France Trivia
  • First TTT - the first team time trial was in 1927.  
  • National Teams - National teams were introduced in 1930, prior to that, major bike manufacturers sponsored the teams. Teams have of course returned to being commercially sponsored.
  • Fan threatens rider - in 1950, Italian rider Gino Bartali was punched to the ground and threatened with a dagger on the Col d'Aspin. He got up to win the stage, and then withdrew, with all his teammates, claiming their lives were in danger.
  • Punched by a fan In 1975 Eddy Merckx was on the climb up the Puy-de-Dome when a French spectator punched him in the stomach. A few days later, Merckx crashed and fractured his cheek bone, but did not abandon the race. In the end, he lost the the Tour by less than 3 minutes to Bernard Thevenet.
  • The Maillot Jaune (yellow jersey of the rider in the lead) was introduced in 1919 simply to help spectators recognize who was currently winning the race. 

27 May 2010

Pictures from the Tour of California, Part Deux

Stage 7 Tour of California, ITT in Los Angeles, CA 
All year long I look forward to my trip to California to watch a stage or two of the Tour of California with my family. My family and I are huge pro cycling fans. This year I attended Stage 7 in Los Angeles, with my brother Tom and my nephew Kenny. I also snuck in Stage 6 in Palmdale and Stage 8 with Kenny in Westlake. My brother Mike and my sister-in-law Suz had to cancel last minute because they were flying to France the next day. We missed them tremendously.
When it comes to being experienced fans at the grand tours, Mike and Suz are about as good as it gets. They spend their vacations chasing the Tour de France, Tour de Suisse, Dauphine Libere, Giro d'Italia and Tour of California. To witness Suz working the rider area is an amazing sight, she knows just when to slip in for the best photo, she comes away with tons of freebies, laughs and smiles. We have many stories of jumping the barriers, and VIP passes. Suz challenged our nephew Kenny to follow her footsteps this year in her absence, and follow them he did! Kenny made Aunt Suz (and me) proud to be a fan.
Kenny's story began here, in the rider area at ATOC on a warm Saturday morning in May in downtown Los Angeles. We were able to access the rider area via a circuitous route around buildings, parking lots, blocks of walking, and a metal bridge. Located on the less crowded side of the street, away from the masses, most spectators did not find this hidden gem of an area. We walked freely from team bus to team bus (more like rented RVs). We snapped photos and then ran to the curb to watch the riders pass by. It was great fun.
The BMC team area on the morning of the ITT in Los Angeles at ATOC, hardly a soul around (except us!).
Kenny started jumping in for his photo ops ... he had spotted Chris McCormack (a fellow triathlete) on the way to the rider area.
 then Jens Voigt standing out on the street ...
and finally Mark Cavendish outside the HTC Team RV...
then watched the ITT with his Dad ... (yes, these guys are 6'4"and 6'8")
Here are my money shots from the day at Stage 7:
An ITT in downtown LA, who thought of that?
The Quick Step team waiting to weigh in their bikes at the Start line
Tom Boonen weighing in prior to his start
Fabian Cancellara waiting to start
Mark Cavendish (who did not meet the cut-off time on Stage 6 Finish but was on hand)
Levi Leipheimer checking out his Trek TT bike set-up
Some of the Radio Shack riders warming up
Manuel Quinziato warming up
This was pretty much the relaxed scene at the rider area at the ITT in Los Angeles
Andy Schleck warming up
George Hincapie warming up (and receiving some new sunglasses)
Matti Breschel warming up
Jens Voigt warming up
Action shots
Manuel Quinziato on course
The scene in LA
George Hincapie coming round the bend
George coming down the straight-away to the Finish Line
(now you can see where all the masses were)
Levi Leipheimer coming down to the Finish
Peter Sagan into the Finish
 and finally Michael Rogers (I guess he was too fast!)
Kenny - eating a pancake and having some fun, what a day!!
More pictures of Stage 8, our experience in the Rabobank VIP area, and the Finish of ATOC in Westlake Village, CA coming soon ...