Amgen Tour of California sweeps across Pacifica

Bicyclists, seen here in pacifica, race along Highway 1. (Scott Fong)

Bicyclists, seen here in pacifica, race along Highway 1. (Scott Fong)

For approximately ten minutes, from 9:30 to 9:40 Monday morning, the cyclists competing in the famous Amgen Tour of California rode through Pacifica along Highway 1, as they made their way from Sausalito to Santa Cruz.

The police had the south bound lanes blocked off to traffic and to pedestrians starting at 8:30am. If you were on the beach side of the highway, you had to stay there until 10:00. Before the competitors came, a half dozen or so vans came driving by to clear the road of any people. Despite these efforts, however, after the first batch of riders came whizzing by, several spectators apparently stepped onto the road, and so the remaining cyclists were directed to continue in the northern lanes of the highway.

When the bikers were just coming up to the Manor district in Pacifica, Jim Blume received a call from his wife who was watching the coverage on TV back at their home. After getting that call, he announced to everyone around him where the participants were, and everyone gave a cheer and then suddenly focused intensely on the horizon for the soon to be approaching bikers.

The weather was rainy and cold; just miserable. Says Dave O’Donnell, a Pacifica resident and also an avid cyclist, “I hate riding in the rain.” O’Donnell, who rides about 2500 miles per year, says that there is only ½ an inch of rubber from the tire on the ground at a time, and when it is raining, there is even less rolling resistance, and all of this means that the bikers will have to ride slower than usual, much like when driving a car.

As it turns out, O’Donnell knows more about competitive bike racing than most people, and when asked about the finer points to the sport, he said that “they (the cyclists) use carbon fiber frame bikes”, which are top of the line. O’Donnell gave Madone as an example of a bike built like this that should be available in most sports stores. Bikes of this build are advantageous because they allow someone to ride faster.

Tom Peterson came in first for this leg of the competition, but the overall winner at this point is Levi Leipheimer, who finished second on day two of the tournament. Lance Armstrong finished thirteenth for the day, but is in fourth place overall. Perhaps the reason for this less than stellar finish for Armstrong is a spill he took earlier in the morning. You can check for continuing coverage of this prestigious event.