Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's a Blur, the 2009 Amgen Tour of California

For 2009, the Amgen Tour of California held its opening Prologue, a 2.4 mile individual time trial, in Sacramento on Valentine’s Day featuring some of the biggest name in bike racing including Lance Armstrong. The crowds came early, in mass estimated at 70,000 plus, and with plenty of enthusiasm for all the racers. Luckily for the racers as well as the fans, there was a miraculous break in the bad weather just in time for this event. Other than wind and cold, the road conditions were dry throughout the Prologue which lasted two and half hours.

I arrived early by bike just in time to take a spin around the course with other fans alongside real racers as they warmed their legs for the short arduous ride. The mood was festive and the people were friendly with excitement and anticipation. Beside the time-trial event, there was amble opportunity for fans to see their favorite racers up-close and to get autographs and pictures. I only wish I knew the who’s who of the racers. Besides the likes of Armstrong, Hincapie, and Landis, I’m guilty of knowing some big names but not the faces that go with them due to the nature cycling with its cool helmets and sunglasses that hide the face. I roamed the event checking out the course, the vendors, and the many cool high-tech, feather-weight bikes made of carbon-fiber. Along the way, I encountered exuberant fans and friends, some of whom I’ve not seen in years. I guess it’s once a cycling fan, always a cycling fan.

When the time-trial finally started, they proceeded quickly through the 136 riders at 1 minute intervals. Each of the rider invoked cheers and encouragement from the fans as they passed with the loudest being for Armstrong, on the comeback trail after a 3 year absence. People need their heroes, someone to look up to and to admirer, and Armstrong, with his 7 wins at the Tour de France and his efforts to highlight cancer is a hero to many. In the end, Armstrong placed 10th behind the winner Cancellara. Not bad considering this is only his second major race since coming back. Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Amgen 2009 Tour of California

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