2008 Tour of California
Pre ride report 2/20/08
Our departure went off without a hitch. On most trips there is the one guy that is always late for one reason or another, not on this one! We planned to meet at Hans' house at 11:00 am and by that time everyone was there! We quickly loaded Garo's Ford Expedition and headed to Carpenteria to pick up Otto.
In Garo's car there was Brad, Jake, David, Julio, Hans, Garo, Roobik and Otto. Between watching the previous days Tour of California on Hans' computer and Otto's true stories we were well entertained!
Stage 4 Seaside to San Luis Obispo 2/21/08
We wanted to get an early start today to stay ahead of the Pro's and try to make it to San Luis Obispo to watch the race from somewhere near the finish line. The good folks at the Big Sur River Inn were kind enough to open the restaurant at 7:30 that was 1/2 hour earlier then usual. This way we could get some breakfast in us before we hit the road! The plan was to be on the road by 8:00 am! By the time we actually started riding it was 8:45.
We were about five minutes into the ride when it started raining! We stopped to put on our rain gear.
The cold and the rain we could deal with but the strong winds would take a toll on us! Even on the downhill sections we were pedaling as hard as we could! The paceline fragmented early.
The wind was so strong at times it stopped us in our tracks! The wind would also suddenly change directions and push us towards the edge of the road and the cliff below! Otto experienced some chain problems about 25 miles into the ride and hitched a ride with a passing motorist. Dave and Garo opted for a nice warm and dry ride in the support vehicle around mile 30 and who could blame them? The conditions were really bad!
Julio, Jake, Roobik and Hans continued on without a complaint from any of them! Though they were all crying inside!
For most of us our waterproof rain gear lasted around an hour then the water started soaking through! As we approached San Simeon Roobik broke a spoke on his rear wheel!
The wheel was severely out of true and even though we loosened the brakes the rim was still rubbing! Hans called in for support to Otto. Luckily the support vehicle was only 7 miles away in San Simion. The road was closed now to cars so the support vehicle could not come to us. We figured it is only 7 miles so Roobik figured the wheel could make it! That 7 miles proved to be very difficult to ride!
With the strong head winds, our body's working to keep us warm instead of giving us strength to our muscles and the tweaked wheel that 7 miles took us quite some time!
By the time we made it to San Simeon we were soaked, chilled to the bone, and beat! We decided to jump in the support vehicle.
The Pro's were around 1/2 hour behind us at this point so we watched the race go by from San Simeon.
Later we would hear reports that 12 riders dropped out of this stage with Hypothermia. It was said to be the worst weather of any stage to date in the TOC. Several of the Pros said it was their worst day on the bike!
Stage 5 Solvang Time Trial 2/22/08
We picked up a few more TOC Groupies the night before. Andres and Angie had taken the train up the day before to SLO.
Today's plan was to ride from San Luis Obispo to Solvang to watch the time trial.
it seemed that the rain did not stop at all last night. There was 30 chance of rain for today so we thought we had a good
chance for some sunshine! Before the ride even started we lost two riders who decided they were not up to riding in the rain. Riding today we had Andres, Julio, Jake, Roobik, Otto and Hans.
The ride today was just as wet as the day before but today we also had a lot of mud in the road to deal with from all the farming activities along the route. Julio covered in mud.
It rained on us the entire way until the final 3 miles of the ride. We had a few mechanicals along the way including a broken chain and 3 flats. We managed to make it to the time trial with 20 riders left to start.
After a nice soak in the hot tub we enjoyed dinner at the local Italian Restaurant.
On Friday night we picked up a few more TOC Groupies including Ross, Diane, Monte, JD, Mitch, Shawn, Jen, Allison and Jessie.
Stage 6 Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita 2/23/08
Today we will follow the stage to Santa Clarita. The rain has stopped and is not expected to start again until late in the afternoon! It will be nice to stay dry today! We start the ride with 13 riders.
The Stage started with lots of flat and rolling terrain. This was nice for our tired legs to warm up! We passed through some very scenic Coastline and Canyons.
There are four King of the Mountains on this Stage and two sprints. The first two KOM's came up quickly. Andres and Julio battled it out and Andres managed to take the first two KOM's! Andres and Hans battled for the first sprint! It was to close to call and we are waiting for the photo finish and judges decision. On the third KOM Hans had planned a sneak attack and came from far behind Julio and Andres. Julio spotted him in his new bike mirror and the sprint was on in the last 100 meters! Hans managed to overpower Julio but Andres was ready for the sneak attack after the 2005 TOC on Balcom he swore "Never again will I fall for that one!" Andres took the third KOM!
With one sprint to go, Andres and Hans eyed each other in anticipation to see who was going to start the sprint. Julio came from behind the two in a sneak attack of his own and took the sprint!
Shortly after this sprint we came to a stop light. There were three other riders in front of us at the light. They rolled first when the light turned green. One of the three riders clipped one of his buddies back wheels and went down. Julio was right behind him with no time to stop. He ran into the downed riders and crashed. Then came Mitch, he hit the two downed riders and went OTB. This was the first OTB we had seen on a road bike ride! Mitch managed to roll his head down so the helmet could take the full impact of his fall. He had a small cut on his nose and a sore hand but was okay. The other rider that caused the pile up checked himself and his bike and then rode off without asking if the other riders were okay or offering an apology.
The last KOM on Balcom Canyon is the steepest of them all! Andres and Julio pulled away while the rest of the group worked just to get up the hill! Hans was ready to give it up when he heard several of his fans yelling go Hans! Could this be a dream he thought? Lack of oxygen maybe? Regardless he figured he had to give all he had! This was the TOC and he was battling it out with some of the strongest OTB riders. He was gaining on Julio and Andres was not far behind! The fans went wild when he dropped a gear and stood for the final sprint! Hans managed to take Julio in the last 10 meters even though one of Julio's Colombian fans tried to block Hans with his bike! Andres was in site but it was to late for Hans! Andres took the fourth and final KOM!
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