Travel got me into cycling races. Summer travel to Europe was the specific catalyst for an interest in road cycling due to the one constant every July for three weeks is Tour de France. Lance Armstrong, superstar, superdoped athlete was a familiar summer face when I was in Ireland, Netherlands and Germany and regardless of the TV station commentary language, there was one American conquering Europe a decade ago before his fall from grace.
Tour of California
The eight days of stage races for Amgen Tour of California makes it one of the premier cycling races for professional cyclists who do not ride in the far more grueling 21 stages of Giro d’Italia started last weekend in Italy and finishing June 1, 2014.
Stage 4 of Tour of California began Wednesday, May 14 at 11:50am from downtown Monterey’s Alvarado Street. SInce I have watched the Tour de France race for the past 15 years, there were some easily accessible cycling stars I was able to get rather close to in the sparse crowds of Monterey.
Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky is the 2012 Tour de France winner and also 2012 Olympic Gold medalist in road cycling representing the UK. The yellow jersey indicates he is the current leader after three stages of racing in California.
Mark Cavendish is on pace to be the all-time race stage winner in the history of the Tour de France in the next two years. He is arguably the greatest sprinter in the history of cycling. The green jersey indicates he is the best sprinter of the race so far starting Stage 4 of the Tour of California.
Monterey’s 15 minutes of excitement
The racers lined up on Alvarado Street for the start of the race down Highway 1 Big Sur to Cambria, a little over 100 miles south. The temperature at 11am yesterday was in the mid-80s smashing the previous high temperature for Monterey of 80 F. for May 14. The countdown started and the cyclists were off and rolling down the street and out of town.
And in the quick of a minute the cyclists were gone.
The local TV reporter from KSBW Monterey Channel 8 was there to tell the story.
Within minutes the city of Monterey resembled its usual self again with the exception of two hours of pedestrians in the streets while the road closures were in effect.
Alvarado Street, Monterey, California
Our fifteen minutes of fame passed and we got back to doing normal routines again.
We were back to sitting on the docks of Monterey Bay wasting time.
California sea lions on the dock of Fisherman’s Wharf.
One inaccuracy to correct from the Amgen Tour of California Stage 4 description:
Canadian Will Routley (OPM) pushes for the stage 4 win, and Bradley Wiggins (SKY) keeps overall lead.
If Stage 3 was the hardest stage of the 2014 race, Stage 4 is arguably the most beautiful. The City of Monterey will host the Stage 4 start at Alvarado Street. With a spectacular backdrop of the Monterey Bay, fisherman heading out for the day’s catch, and the sound of harbor seals, the riders will head south on one of the most iconic roadways in the world…Hwy 1. Along the way to Cambria, the riders will vie for one Sprint in Big Sur and three KOMs.
The route will feature spectacular ocean vistas, crashing waves, lighthouses, State Parks, elephant seals, herds of zebra, and Hearst Castle. Cambria is hosting the race for the first time. This is one of the quaintest towns in the USA. Half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cambria has the ideal mix of the ocean, wineries, shopping, and great restaurants.
Harbor seals are relatively quiet mammals, with the exception of the newborn pups last month who grunt for milk from mama.
California sea lions are the marine mammals making all the racket with their incessant barking. I love it though on mornings when I can hear the sea lions from my window carried up the hill with the wind and fog.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.