We are big cycling fans both as riders and spectators here at EV-Nation. We also own a Nissan Leaf and as Nissan was the official sponsor car for the Tour (even though it doesn't really have the range to make many stages ironically) it was doubly interesting for us. The Tour started out at Lake Tahoe which should have been amazing and beautiful. However, it was sadly snowed out. By the time the tour arrived very near our home in Paso Robles, though, the weather had once again become gorgeous. Margaret picks up the story:
Thursday, May 19: Paso Robles, CA
So we joined the Tour of California in Paso Robles. Unfortunately, due to rough winter weather earlier in the year, the Pacific Coast Highway was closed near Bixby Bridge and the iconic California Coast stage was re-routed. This meant the long anticipated run through the vineyards was not to be. However, we did get to follow our “tradition” at Villa Creek on the square. Drinks and snacks while watching the boys on TV pull hard into town. Then a quick stroll to the finishing straight as they flew by. Sagan took the stage. Very exciting. Bummer for Freire.
Friday, May 20: Solvang, CA
Much discussion about where to watch the Time Trial. Decided on our “traditional” spot, up Baseline with a view of the corner on Refugio. Great coming and going. So, we didn’t have the complete start and cell was dodgy. There was a lead motorcycle for most riders with a team car behind. Except for poor Zabriske. Almost missed it was him. But you can’t missed that calm, clean style.
We were laughing that the Leaf was the official pace car, given it can’t even go a full stage on one charge. We thought it’d be funny if they scatter Leafs across a stage and picked them up along the way. The TT allowed the race to use the cars and we did see several go by at least 4 times. Go Leaf.
So many riders going by, so many rear ends. Finally got some good shots like this one of VdV. Look at that form.
Race Leader, Horner cruising by, comfortable with his lead over the rest.
Saturday, May 21: Mt Baldy, CA
So early morning to get up to go to Mt. Baldy. Jeff checked out ahead of time regarding the parking situation. There was parking at the top for a price. We took it, ‘cause we had no clue how nuts it might be. Packed up the winter gear and Jeff’s bike. Made great time and dumped Jeff off in Baldy Village to slog up the mountain. I was dubious that my little internet receipt was gonna work. But the check points kept letting me through all the way to the top. Ole Ellingson met me at the top in his Scout Master uniform and walked me to my parking. Yep very top of the mountain, past the whole Media setup. Totally cool. I moseyed around the top watching the whole setup. Totally awesome the transformation of our big old Baldy. Made me realize a hike was definitely due.
Starting walking down the hill to see if Jeff was on his way and I caught sight of him on one of the parking lot switch backs. He was home free and happy to have survived the 15% grade punishing last bit.
The crew hadn’t set up the finishing line yet, as the race hadn’t started yet from Claremont. Jeff was happy to make it to the top, as we many more riders throughout the day.
The rest of the morning and afternoon we walked down to the vendors area at Manker Flats and sat and watched the rest of the mountain get transformed into a genuine mountain top finish, TdF style. As we were parked in the media area, we got to see the cycling celebs coming and going. Thanks for Phil Ligget stopping and taking a photo, even though he was incognito in sunglasses. I had chased down their car earlier when they had driven up the mountain and were checking in.
Walked up to the chair lifts to get a total birdseye view of the approach and finish line. The Leaf was the first one through the finish line (must of trailer it up to Manker Flats).
Pretty excited to see the Yellow, sorry Golden, Jersey as the first rider and another Radioshack rider at his side.
Levi and Horner finish is grand style. We walked down to the ceremony stage below our viewpoint. Total gentlemen. Thanks for a great show and gracious winning.
This was such a funny image of the life of the Leaf on the tour. Not really very practical for cycling, but totally logical when you think of riding around one when you’re breathing in all the exhaust. Though I am certain they could have regenerated a lot of energy on the way down. Jeff decided to fly down the hill on his bike when they let ‘em go down. The riders’ team buses were back down the hill. I thought it might take some time to get me down to our meeting spot in Baldy Village. I hopped behind the Race Director as he was leaving and then part way down hooked onto the wheel of Levi, figuring they’d let him through. Jeff had just gotten a beer and was watching the tape-delayed stage on the TV. Couldn’t have been a nicer day.
Sunday, May 22: Thousand Oaks, CA
A bit out of our range for the day to get to the final stage of the ToC ending in Thousand Oaks. Called up the Nissan dealership in TO and they were ready to receive us when we pulled in 50.5 miles later. Couldn’t have had better signage and yet a huge construction truck parked in the Leaf parking.
We walked from TO Nissan the race circuit, stopping for lunch along the way. Lots of people. Also another good one for the Nissan Leaf. They pulled Pace car duties for a couple of circuits. There was a break that got caught up a small incline during one of the circuits.
The peleton barreling down toward the finish. Jeff almost got clipped by Horner as he flew by.
And around again. Radioshack keeping out of trouble and moving slowly off the front to allow the craziness of the sprinters plenty of room to do there thing.
Overall, it was a great, exciting race. Mt Baldy was very memorable and something not to miss. Congrats to Chris Horner and Radioshack as well as Amgen for putting on a great show. It was very successful for Nissan and the Leaf as well. We consistently saw huge crowds checking out the cars and asking lots of questions. Number one question: "Can we get a bike rack for it?" Well Nissan, Can we?