By Karen Kefauver – Sentinel correspondent
March 19, 2010
Link to Sentinel article
With less than two months to go, the countdown is on for the Tour of California’s Stage 3 finish in Santa Cruz on Tuesday,
The largest and most prestigious road bike race in the United States, the Amgen Tour of California [TOC] is an eight-day event that stops in 17 cities as its elite riders propel themselves more than 800 miles from Nevada City to Thousand Oaks. It attracts some of the world’s top cycling stars, including seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and three-time TOC defending champion Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa.
Now in its fifth year, the TOC returns to Santa Cruz with two changes from its debut here in 2009. This time, the world-class peloton will finish in front of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk after a 113.3-mile ride from San Francisco scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m.
Plus, good news for the spectators: The race rolls through in the spring instead of the winter. Under sunny skies, organizers expect the crowd to be even bigger than last year, when thousands of cycling fans were drenched on a February day that alternated between sun, rain and hail.
Local TOC organizers, headed by Santa Cruz businessman Matt Twisselman, are ramping up events and fundraisers to
offset the cost of hosting the race. Among the activities are two rides –” one for road bikers, the other for mountain bikers –” at UC Santa
Cruz on April 17 [see sidebar].
Also on tap: a hilly bike ride called The Bonny Doon Challenge and a festival on the Westside at the Swift Street Courtyard. Both are slated for May 1. Details will be posted on the local TOC Web site and the Facebook page at http://bit.ly/8yL15I.
Additionally, membership is now open for the Peloton Club, a booster club for the Santa Cruz stage that gives its members special perks on race day, such as premiere seating at the finish line, and other VIP benefits. For details, visit: www.tourofcalifornia-santacruz.com.
Sea Otter Classic
Hundreds of residents plan to race, watch or work at
the Sea Otter Classic’s 20th event, scheduled for April 15-18 in Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway and the surrounding trails of Fort Ord.
I have attended this race for nearly two decades and love shopping at the expo, cheering for friends and pros in both mountain bike and road races and competing in the event’s most popular amateur event, the cross country mountain bike race [sport class]. This year, I also plan to attend the free 7 a.m. yoga classes taught by Canadian trials rider Ryan Leech.
Both races and recreational rides at Sea Otter require pre-registration: www.seaotterclassic.com.
Mt. Charlie Challenge
On April 24, area cyclists will head for the hills in
the Mt. Charlie Challenge Pledge Ride. The ride includes leg- and lung- burning 50 kilometer and 100k routes that climb to the summit and pass wineries and beautiful redwoods as they wind through Corralitos, Aptos, Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley. A mass start begins at 8 a.m.
Finally, Spin City would be incomplete without a mention of an event that cyclists everywhere are celebrating: the debut of Google Cycling Maps, another tool for cyclists to plot their routes.
The announcement from Google at the 10th annual National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., stressed that the service is in beta mode and that feedback is welcome. So check it out and test it for yourself: Maps.google.com/biking.
If You Go
TOC Group Rides
When: April 17
On the Net: http://bit.ly/8yL15I
Road ride start: 9:30 a.m. East Field
Road ride details: A family friendly ride of about five miles for which any bike will do. Helmets are required. The ride,
led by members of the Slug Cycling team, will be on the UC Santa Cruz campus and will include a section of the TOC Stage 3 route. Ambitious riders may tackle the hill climb up Empire Grade to Bonny Doon to experience even more of the TOC course.
Mountain bike ride start:3 p.m. East Field
Mountain bike details: Mark McCarroll, head of UCSC Recreation & Sports programs, will take riders with previous
mountain biking experience for a casual ride around upper campus. Expect some uphill riding and long downhill descents.
Karen Kefauver, www.karenkefauver.com, is a freelance sports and travel journalist. She blogs weekly about bicycling for the Sentinel at www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/outside.