Had things turned out differently there might not have been a post tonight. Luckily there is one.
I think the last thing my wife told me before I left was: “Be safe.” She knows full well that cyclists take risks. They take risks when a bunch of riders all sprint on a narrow street towards the finish line. They take risk when they go down a steep and twisty descent. We were all reminded of that today.
After the first big climb of the week, Empire Grade Road, we started descending down a pretty wide road. We then had to make a sharp right turn unto a smaller road. That is when we saw the sign put up by the organizers that read: “Dangerous descent.” It was a very narrow, steep and twisty descent. Not being a good descender myself, I was lucky to have Chris Carmichael behind me calling when to let go of the brakes on the curves. I was focusing on his instructions when we came to a rather sharp turn and I saw one of my teammates stopped by the side of the road. I heard a few people shouting: “Rider down.” Right away I knew someone had gone off the road where my teammate had stopped.
Most of the group stopped a little bit further down. Everyone cheered when we saw our teammate climb out of the ravine, stand up, get on his bike and roll down to us. We later learned that our teammate locked his back wheel and then lost control. Don’t get the wrong impression and think that people were “going too fast”. Our CTS crew is the best in the business and on descents riders aren’t allowed to pass the coach in front who sets the pace. It was simply a freak accident but in the end, all is good. Jokes heard after we knew Scott was not injured include: “He the last guy we want to fall down a cliff (he is an ER surgeon)” and “I would have expected Alain to do that, not Scott.”
We had started the day with breakfast at 5:00 am and left the hotel at 5:45 am for the start of Stage 2. We followed Route 1 South of San Francisco for about 50 miles before turning inland. The weather was perfect: cool and overcast. The scenery was amazing and the group set a nice pace on the rolling hills.
Once we turned inland we were at the bottom of Empire Grade, a 13.8 kilometers climb with an average grade of 5.5%. The bottom line is that Scott got yet another KOM and as CTS athlete Richard Speer posted on my Facebook, I got yet another QOM. There is a debate between Mary Lou and I about what Richard truly meant: I took it as Queen of the Mountains and she thinks he meant Quebecer of the Mountains. The boys in our group think Queen of the Mountain is pretty funny so let’s stick with that version. The Canucks did have two guys in the top 5 with Rene Branchaud showing again that you can count on him to do well on the climbs. The rest of the ride went well for everyone. Most, if not all, of the guys truly enjoyed the very fast 20 kilometers descent to the finish – wide and not steep road. Once again, all athletes were strong today and we truly rode like a team.
I am sorry to report that we do not have high speed Internet where we are staying which means I won’t be able to upload this post tonight. I will do so as soon as we get to Livermore tomorrow night. Our group and the entire Tour of California crew – including riders, soigneurs and mechanics – are staying at a camp outside Aptos, Santa Cruz County. I am writing this post off the balcony of our little lodge in the middle of the forest. Pretty relaxing actually.
Off to bed as this is what tomorrow looks like:
San Jose-Livermore (115mi/185km)
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: 11:15 am
CTS Finish Time: 2:00-3:00 pm
Pro Finish Time: 3:30-4:00 pm
PM Transfer: None
CTS Dinner: 6:30-8:30 pm
Pictures taken today:
Amgen Tour of California Stage Description
Cycling fans who love the electric feel of race starts will be hard-pressed to find anything better than the Stage 2 start of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California in San Francisco. Beginning at Marina Green in San Francisco’s Marina District, the start line will run right to the break wall of San Francisco Bay. The backdrop? Breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Marin Headlands. However, the riders’ stay in the great city of San Francisco will be short-lived because within a few minutes, the race will have passed through the Presidio with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. From here, Stage 2 will continue south on Highway 1 through the San Francisco suburbs of Pacifica and Daly City.
Making its way down the Devil’s Slide, north of Half Moon Bay, the peloton will enjoy the most spectacular coastline in the world. The stage will then turn inward and start the assault up Bonny Doon, which, in previous editions of the race, has determined the winner of the stage.
With the stage finish moving to Aptos this year, the riders will face another 42 miles of racing and another KOM. The last several miles of the stage are downhill, followed by a short run down Soquel Avenue to the finish. Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California will certainly be a long and difficult stage, but it won’t be a surprise to see a large pack of riders contest the finish in an exciting Sprint.