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

Monday, February 9, 2009

Panoramic Pictures

Through the Internet, I discover Microsoft ICE, a great easy-to-use tool to stitch individual consecutive frames into stunning panoramic pictures and it's free. Below are some samples of the results. It's magic. Here's a link to all my panoramic pictures:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Blue Ridge Loop Trail

On February 3rd, Geno, Dick , Don , Bob and I hiked the 5-mile Blue Ridge Loop Trail overlooking Lake Berryessa. It was another warm winter day, great for outdoor activity, but horrendous for the California due to the lack rain and the threat of a third consecutive drought year. Traveling counterclockwise, we climbed to the top of Blue Ridge and hiked along the ridgeline at about 1,300 thru 1,500 feet elevation enjoying great views of the valley and Lake Berryessa. We then descended into Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve and hiked the thick woodlands along Cold Creek back to the start. Normally the creek crossings would be a challenge according to Geno, but this year, the creek was dry. It was a great way to spend the day. This hike was listed in Dick’s “60 Hikes within 60 miles” of Sacramento. Something we’ve been doing this winter is hikes within the region closer to home. Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Cold Canyon Hike

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sac Wheelmen 2009 Calistoga Zodiac

From January 27-29, I joined fourteen riders with the Sac Wheelmen Bike Club on a short three-day bike trip. The first day’s ride went from Winters to Napa over Cardiac Hill, about 52 miles. Next we did an out ‘n back day ride from Napa to Glen Ellen climbing Trinity Grade and Cavedale Road for about 42 miles with 5,000+ feet of elevation gain. On the third day, I limped back to Winters. In all, it was an outstanding time with great rides and wonderful weather. Members of the Sac Wheelmen certainly know how to have a good time. Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: SW Calistoga Zodiac 2009

Trip to Waikiki, Oahu

Imagine, caressed in tropic warmth
Ocean breezes and emerald blues
Crashing waves and deep blue skies
Swaying palms and easy living
Electric Streets and endless shops
So portrays O’ Waikiki, Isle Oahu

Need I say more! Kay and I got away for a week in January. Once there, we wandered the island over. Besides roaming the lively streets and endless shops, we hiked Diamond Head, snorkeled Hanuama Bay, and traveled the northern, western and eastern shores spotting humpback whales, seals, and birds. It was an active time. Our place was nicely located at the edge of Waikiki, an easy walk to popular local down home eateries off the beaten path. That’s the way we like it. Aloha! Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Hawaii 2009