07 April 2016

Tour of California Host City activities: Stages 4 to 8

Tourist ideas at the Amgen Tour of California in Northern California: Stage 4, Stage 5, Stage 6, Stage 7 and Stage 8. 


Did you know Visit California is a major sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California? Intentionally playing tourist on the sidelines of the Tour of California is a great idea. As in life, balance in travel is a particularly good thing. The Amgen Tour of California covers some of the best tourists towns in California all within one-week. Enjoy the sea, mountains, beach towns, high mountain lakes, the beautiful wine country and the dramatic California coast. The stage race begins in San Diego and finishes in the state capital of Sacramento.

Ride, hike, eat, stroll, relax, road trip and cheer on the best cyclists in the world including World Champion Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins (read more about the riders attending).
  • Tips on how to watch the Tour of California
  • Start and finish times of the Tour of California
  • VIP tickets and hours and Festival information at the Tour of California
  • California tourist ideas near the Tour of California
  • Route maps for stages 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of the Tour of California
If you are planning to see the bike race, why not take time to see other sights before or after the stage, dine and stay locally. Think of it as the best way to say thanks to the businesses and host cities who support bike racing. Here I offer ideas for Stage 4-8 in northern California.

PART I: Tourist ideas for stages 1 through 4 in southern California: Tour of California Host City activities: Stages1-4.

Please read the details for each stage at the Pedal Dancer® TOUR OF CALIFORNIA GUIDE PAGE for spectators.

See the best cyclists in the world compete! ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
2016 Tour of California Schedule:

Stage 1 - San Diego, May 15, 201, Sunday
Stage 2 - South Pasadena to Santa Clarita, May 16, 2016
Stage 3 - Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara County, May 17, 2016
Stage 4 - Morro Bay to Monterey County, May 18, 2016
Stage 5 - Lodi to South Lake Tahoe, May 19, 2016
Stage 6 - Folsom Individual Time Trial & Women's Team Time Trial, May 20, 2016
Stage 7 - Santa Rosa, May 21, 2016
Stage 8 - Sacramento, May 22, 2016, Sunday

MORRO BAY Stage 4 - Morro Bay to Monterey County, Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - Stage 4 Map Link
Elephant Seal
The drive from Morro Bay to Monterey along California Hwy 1 is one of the most scenic drives in the United States.

What to do near Morro Bay:
  • This would be a very good town to give your business to local stores and restaurants. Arrive early and enjoy a meal.
  • Hike Morro Bay State Park.
  • Visit the nearby college town of San Luis Obispo.
  • Ride your bike: I like to follow the guidance of the Ambassador's listed on Ride with GPS; There is a local Ambassador based out of nearby Paso Robles: see the routes by Jardine Ranch's Country Nut House
  • Ride to either of the first two KOM points at KOM locations: 1) Pacific Highway 1 Summit #1, 2) Pacific Highway 1 Summit #2 (see the route map: Stage 4 Map Link). 
  • Road Trip: California's Pacific Coast Highway with National Geographic (reverse this trip).
  • Stop in for lunch in the quaint town of Cambria along the coast (2 hr drive north of Santa Barbara).
  • See the huge Elephant Seals at San Simeon (2'22" north of Santa Barbara)
  • Hearst Castle: one of the most popular tourist sights in California, Hearst Castle is a 55-minute drive north up Hwy 1 from Morrow Bay. (2'23" north of Santa Barbara).
  • About the stage: Stage 4 starts in Morro Bay at 10:10am (it will be a long day in the saddle); Start line VIP Hours : 8:30 AM - 10:45AM
  • Find a spot near the start line sign-in stage to see all your favorite riders sign-in 1 hour before the start.
Julian Alaphilippe wore the best young rider jersey in 2015. ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

MONTEREY Stage 4 - Morro Bay to Monterey County, Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - Stage 4 Map Link

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Cue arguably the most spectacularly scenic area in California. This chunk of California coastline will have you peering at listings in the windows of local real estate offices yearning to move here.

What to do near Monterey:
SRAM neutral support car. ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

LODI Stage 5 - Lodi to South Lake Tahoe, Thursday, May 19, 2016 - Stage 5 Map Link

There's gold in them hills! Map via sierranevadaphotos.com
Into the land of The Mother Lode (dark orange area above), to take a term from the gold miners of the 1848 California gold rush. The flood of over 300,000 dreamers of gold was the largest migration in the United States. Northern California has a feel distinctly different from southern California with life influenced by nearby San Francisco, local parks, historic buildings, rapid transit and incredible natural beauty (with great road cycling and mountain biking).

What to do near Lodi:
  • Visit California highlights the gold country in a planned 4-day, 10 stop Gold Country Road Trip: California Gold itinerary.
  • About the stage: Stage 5 starts in Lodi at 10:00am.
Follow the peloton north! ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE Stage 5 - Lodi to South Lake Tahoe, Thursday, May 19, 2016 - Stage 5 Map Link

Lake Tahoe
Today's stage climbs into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, starting at 50 feet above sea level and finishing at 6,650ft, with a max elevation of 8,600 feet. The stage finishes up the short steep climb of Ski Run Boulevard at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

What to do near Lake Tahoe:
  • Hike in Emerald Bay State Park: hike the D.L. Bliss Rubicon Trail.
  • Cruise the lake on a Paddle Wheeler boat.
  • Rent a jet ski, or rent a kayak for the day in South Lake Tahoe.
  • John Peltier recommends local hikes in the Lake Tahoe area: Five Lakes Trail hike Lake Tahoe.
  • A very good day to gather with the other enthusiastic fans near one of the sprint or KOM markers along the route: Sprint locations: 1) Sutter Hill, 2) Luther Pass. KOM locations: 1) Kirkwood, 2) Carson Pass, 3) last climb to Ski Run Boulevard to Heavenly Ski Area.
  • Watch the women's race! Women's Stage 1 start at 10:50am in Lake Tahoe; Women's finish in Lake Tahoe at 2:00pm.
  • About the men's stage: Men's Stage 5 finishes in South Lake Tahoe (Heavenly Mountain Resort) at 3:46pm. Enjoy the atmosphere near the finish line. Festival Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM.; Finish line VIP Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Peter Sagan in 2015. ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

FOLSOM Stage 6 - Folsom Individual Time Trial, Friday, May 20, 2016 - Stage 6 Map Link

Kayaking the American River. Photo via adventuresports.rentals
The time trial of the Amgen Tour of California returns to Folsom. Yes, the Folsom featured in Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues. But don't expect the time to keep dragging on as Cash's lyric proclaim. This time trial will be fast with an elevation change of 800ft over 12.6 miles. Because a time trial is a constant flow of activity and speed, this is a day to stay near the action and immerse yourself in the event.

What to do in Folsom:
  • Before or after the time trial rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard at Willow Creek on Lake Natoma part of Folsom Lake State Recreation Area: rentals California Canoe and Kayak (directions). Or paddle on the American River in single or double kayak rentals from Adventure Sports Rentals in Folsom.
  • There will be plenty to see surrounding both the men's and women's race today. Walk around the expo. Collect free swag, buy merchandise, eat, and drink beer.
  • The Women's race (Stage 2 TTT), starting in Folsom at 10:45am and finishing at 12:46pm will feature an exciting TEAM time trial. The Men's race, starting in Folsom at 1:04pm and finishing at 3:45pm will be an INDIVIDUAL time trial.
  • Walk slowly through the team buses (located near the start line) to watch the riders both warm up and cool down on their spinners. Gawk at the ultra expensive time trial bikes. It is also fun to watch the nervous riders wait in the staging area just before they climb onto the start ramp.
  • For more tips about watching a time trial read the tips on the Pedal Dancer guide page: Tour of California.
  • Watching at the start and finish line (near the time clock) is always exciting, but finding a quiet (the announcers can be quite loud) corner where you can set out a chair and cooler to watch the riders and team cars whiz by can be constant entertainment.
  • Most of the riders will begin in 1-minute intervals, with the final riders beginning three minutes apart.
  • The starting order of riders for the men's race will be the reverse of the overall GC standings from the day before. Use the Tour Tracker app to know which rider is next (sometimes they pass each other on route, so look for the team jersey as the best clue of who is coming).
  • Remember to stay after the time trial stage for the podium presentations (15 minutes after the men's race finishes, ~ 4:00pm).
  • About the stage: VIP Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM; Festival Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM; Stage presented by SRAM.
Peter Sagan in the time trial.  ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

SANTA ROSA Stage 7 - Santa Rosa, May 21, 2016, Saturday, May 21, 2016 - Stage 7 Map Link

Cycling the Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. Photo via Santa Rosa Cycling Club.
Sonoma County is the land of wine, beer and great bike riding. An exciting host city where the central downtown area opens up to scenic ocean vistas and challenging climbs along the stage route. You might want to bring your bike and ride out on course today.

Both the men and the women will share this part of the route. Good viewing of Stage 7 in Santa Rosa ATOC 2016.
What to do near Santa Rosa:
  • The Santa Rosa Cycling Club offers Ten great rides (local; between 23 and 53 miles). A fantastic collection of bike rides.
  • Bike the challenging route of Levi's Gran Fondo.
  • Take a multi-day bike tour with Wine Country Bikes. They also offer one-day bike tours in the wine-country.
  • Wine tasting and tours. I especially like wines from the Russian River Valley. Join the highly rated Valley Wine Tours for a day tour with lunch.
  • Drink beer. I know you might think of Sonoma County as wine country, but they have some excellent breweries in the area. For many years a local beer by Russian River Brewing Co. called Pliny The Elder has taken the top spot on many lists of the best beer in the United States! Beer Advocate gives the beer a perfect score of 100.
  • This would be a great day to watch the stage on a part of the course along the coast. Drive or ride your bike, and bring a picnic along while you wait.
  • Both the women and men will have a KOM on Coleman Valley Road.
  • About the stage: VIP Hours at the start/finish area: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM; Festival Hours at the start/finish: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM; Stage 3 women's start time is 9:00 am; Stage 3 women's finish time is 12:00 pm; Stage 7 men's start time is 11:55 am; Stage 7 men's finish time is 3:45 pm.
The legs of a sprinter (Mark Cavendish's) ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

SACRAMENTO Stage 8 - Sacramento, May 22, 2016, Sunday, May 22, 2016 - Stage 8 Map Link

Just another state capital building
What to do in the capital city of California, Sacramento:
  • Tour the California state capital building, museum, and park. Weekends 9 am - 5 pm.
  • Ride the American River bicycle trail
  • The men depart just 5 minutes after the women.
  • Stage 4 women's (final) start time is 11:45 am; Stage 4 women's finish time is 1:24 pm.
  • Stage 8 men's start time is 11:55 am; Stage 8 men's finish time is 3:45 pm.
  • Yes, VIP will be worth it in Sacramento. Cost of VIP tickets in Sacramento are $209.00 each: Buy VIP Pass.
  • About the stage: VIP Hours at the Finish: 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM; Festival Hours: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM.
  • Definitely stay after the stage for the final podium presentations immediately after the men's finish, approximately 4:00pm. They will typically open the barricades to let the crowd fill the street in front of the stage.
The Broom Wagon. ©Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

Be a tourist in California. It is a 9-hour drive from San Diego to San Francisco. VisitCalifornia.com regional map
See you at the race in 2016!

More Pedal Dancer® race coverage 2016:
Coming soon: Startlist and bib number Amgen Tour of California 2016;  National and World Championship jerseys at the Tour of California; and stories from the race.