First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful wife and best friend Mary Lou. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, without her I wouldn’t be here this week (!) and Happy Mother’s Day to my step-daughter Amanda (“Say hi to Brooklyn for me; papi”).

Now, let’s talk a little bit about what I was up to on Mother’s Day.

I got to sleep in until 5:30 am, had breakfast, got into my biking clothes and roll out for a six hour bike ride. How was it?

Wow!

As a blogger you’d think I would come up with something better than that but I am almost speechless. We rode through beautiful forests with gigantic sequoia trees, rode by the Pacific ocean and the sky was overcast which means we didn’t suffer from the heat.

We have a wonderful group of riders. All the athletes are strong, have good bike handling skills and manners, have checked their egos at the door and have a smile on their face. The CTS crew is outstanding as usual. So I guess I mean to say that we are off to a very good start.

We rolled out from the hotel parking lot at around 7 am. We rolled together as one group at a good moderate pace for about 60 miles. That is when we got to the bottom of the first climb and the pace changed. As always the peleton got split up in two groups. I would say about twelve riders were in the front group and about ten riders were in the second group. I am glad to report that, much to CC’s chagrin I assume, all three Canucks made it to the front group. Not bad, eh.

On the first King of Mountain (KOM) climb I let everyone go and watched from a distance as the guys were fighting it out. On the next two climbs I took a different approach and stayed more with the front guys. I can say that there are some pretty good climbers in the group. On the last climb I rode as per coach’s orders.

With about 20 kilometers to go we had to get off the road to let the pros go by. I think everyone enjoyed the opportunity to see the pros ride on the open roads.

Everyone made it back to the hotel without any mechanical issues and no one crashed. After a quick shower we all headed out to the VIP section at the finish line to watch the pros finish the stage.

I am writing this post after my 30 minutes massage. Remember this event is called the Amgen Tour of California CTS Race Experience, so we get to live like pros for eight days, including daily massage. The only thing left to do today is to eat and sleep.

Pictures taken today:

Here’s what’s in store for us tomorrow:

STAGE 2, Monday, May 14, 2012

San Francisco-Santa Cruz County (117mi/188km)

  •  CTS Breakfast Time:            5:00-5:45 am
  • CTS Depart Hotel:                5:45 am
  • AM Transfer:                        1 hour
  • CTS Ride Start Time:            7:00 am
  • Pro Riders Start:                  11:05 am
  • CTS Finish Time:                  1:30-2:30 pm
  • Pro Finish Time:                   3:30-4:00 pm
  • PM Transfer:                         None
  • CTS Dinner:                         6:30-8:30 pm                         

Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 Description

The first day of racing of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will start and finish in Santa Rosa, California, the city that helped establish the race as the premier professional cycling event in the U.S. and home to three-time race champion Levi Leipheimer. Expect to see spectators perched in the trees, rooftops and in windows near the finish line as they vie for the very best view of the final sprint. The stage will start with two neutral laps around the city before heading out to the open roads of beautiful Sonoma County. Within 30 minutes, the race will reach the Town of Windsor and the first of several of the stage’s featured Sprints. The peloton will then head south, passing by several of Sonoma County’s world-famous vineyards. In Graton, the racers will turn east and head back into Santa Rosa for another Sprint, followed by a straight shot towards the coast and into the quaint town of Occidental. From here, the stage heads north on Bohemian Highway and follow a portion of Levi Leipheimer’s “King Ridge GranFondo” route.

In Cazadero, the racers will start to feel the cool Pacific Ocean breezes as they begin a climb up to the top of Fort Ross Road. They say “what goes up must come down” – and in this case, Meyers Grade Road presents amazing views of a spectacular coast line, but it’s the white-knuckle descent down to Highway 1 that will quickly grab the rider’s attention. A left onto Highway 1 will take the racers south 12 miles to the quintessential northern California climb of Coleman Valley Road, which is long, twisty and steep. The technical descent back into Occidental will test the skills of every member of the peloton as they compete over the last 16 miles on redwood lined country roads to the finish in Santa Rosa. For the first time, the riders will race right to the finish line in Santa Rosa without any finishing circuits, ensuring a climactic, crowd-pleasing end to Stage 1 of the 2012 race.

Click here to see the map for Stage 1.

Click here to see the elevation of Stage 1.

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