Stage 6 – Solvang Time Trial

We stayed overnight at Paso Robles, and that was pretty nice. For once, we had Versus in our hotel room, and was able to enjoy the day’s action from the comfort of our hotel room (we previously had to ajourn in the bar to watch the action). They also left a bottle of Merlot for each of us, that says “Amgen Tour of California”. These were complements of the hotel, and I thought that was really nice of them.

Today was still going to have good weather, but the morning was still a bit chilly. My hope was that by the time we got to Solvang, the temp would warm up, and it did.

Part of my duties, every day, is to get water/drinks for the team, to load up in the van. The food and supplies crew was still prepping up, so they weren’t ready for us to pick up our supplies. I finally was able to browse through some of the vendors, and see some of the teams set up. Everyone was waiting around the Astana team van and bus, and it was crazy there. Garmin team wasn’t set up yet, so I went over to BMC, and checked out their nice TT bikes.

After getting drinks, we brought them back to the van, and we proceeded to our drop off points. My drop off point was at the intersection of Grand and Park St. I basically had to keep residents on Park from entering the course on Grand Ave. I lucked out here, because if someone needed to get anywhere, they could go the back way, through a gated street, to get wherever they needed to go.

My local course marshall, was one who met me at the airport, and got me onto the van to get to the Doubletree Hotel, which is where my registration for the whole traveling course marshall started. Anyhow, she had two twin daughters, and chalk writing would keep them busy, and mostly out of trouble.

Now the course marshall is not supposed to be spending time chalk writing, but there is a limit to what you should be enforcing, so I let this go, as long as it didn’t interfere with their duties. However, I did have to keep the local course marshall from doing a lot of chalk writing.

Course marshalls are not supposed to be using their positions to take pictures, which is exactly what this local course marshall was doing. We’ve had these problems with other local course marshalls. In fact, this one was even taking videos with a video camera.

One unfortunate thing that happened to the local course marshall was … and they deserve this … was they left their car doors open, and radio on, and eventually, the battery went south, and could not turn the engine over. So she had to find someone to help with jumper cables … that at least kept her a little occupied. She got what she deserved.

Ok, back to the time trial. I did get a good view of some of my favorites … like Christian, George, Zabriskie, Levi, and this guy named Lance. Of course, the big question everyone asked was, when does Lance ride, and how will we know when he is coming? Well, based on the ride order, he would be the third from the last. They had a chopper hovering overhead wherever Lance was. So I let everyone know that if you want to know where Lance is, just look for where the chopper overhead is. When Lance finally came through, there was a total of 6 motor vehicles, and a chopper overhead following him. Well, I guess I’m not surprised by this, but he isn’t even the leader. Compare that with when Levi came through (the yellow jersey), and he had 2 or 3 cars, and a chopper following.

I had my Blackberry browser on, which gave updates on the progress of the riders in the time trial. I saw the Dave Zabriskie had taken the lead in the time trial, and Lance wound up with the 12th best time. Wow … Dave Z could take the time trial. Michael Rogers had a slower time, so all the was left was Levi. Levi passed by my station, and then I was picked up. From race radio, we could hear that Levi was behind, but from some miraculous burst, Levi overcame the deficit, and beat Z by 9 seconds … oh, heartbreaking. The TeamSlipStream twit only had one response … “Close”.

One oddity during the time trial … we had the order of riders, and we somehow had missed Ivan Basso in the list. I later found out through his twitter, that he did not start the time trial. “I cant continue the ToC, I hit my knee on the handlebar, tried to warm up for the tt, but too much pain. I’m sad but I need to stop..”, and “I’m sad to have to leave the race, but it’s the best only way to recover from the problem. Thanks to all who supported me here. I’ll be back”. That’s too bad.

It was definitely a larger crowd than last year (weather had a large part to do with this). In fact, this was the best weather for the time trial in 3 years. Seemed like everyone had a great time.

Now we needed to get out of Solvang, and over to Santa Clarita before the rush hour hit. So we proceeded to follow the course, but the last rider had already passed, and we were stuck with traffic, and pedestrians walking down the hill, obstructing traffic. What delayed us more was another car, not part of the Amgen Tour of California caravan, got in front of us. Never mind the fact that we had our horn blasting at them, they kept moving slowly. Eventually we got ahead of them, but we still had to contend with other riders who were continuing to ride the course (after the last rider had passed). Somehow, having our horns honking constantly didn’t phase riders, as they kept hogging the middle of the road. One of these days, they are going to become hood ornaments.

We finally got out of Solvang (it was probably around 2:50 pm), and did get into Santa Clarita by 5:15 pm. Our luggage van didn’t arrive yet (still stuck in Solvang probably), and we went off for dinner. After coming back from dinner, luggage still had not arrived. Oh boy … it did eventually arrive, but not till around 7:50 pm.

Oh, and the Versus coverage???? Not available in this hotel. Dang! I guess I’ll have to rely on short 1-2 minute clips on the Versus web site.

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