Category Archives: fan

ATOC and Giro Starting on the Same Week

This year, the ATOC and Giro d’Italia are starting one day apart.  Woohoo!  That means as soon as I wake up (at the insane hour of 5 am), I can log on, and watch the remains of the day’s Giro d’Italia stage.  Then, in the afternoon (approximately 2 pm), the ATOC coverage begins.  This is the best time of the year for road cycling fans.

So don’t bother me with the silly stories of the NBA Finals, or the Stanley Cup, or even the boring MLB … it’s time for cycling!

And yes, I am taking a week off from work for this … I’ll be seeing two stages of the ATOC in person, as is my annual tradition.

Amgen Tour of California was on this week, and as tradition, I took the week off.  I mean why not?

It started out pretty spectacularly.  I put out feelers to see who would be playing hookey, someone I can hang out with to watch the stage.

Lorri gives me a big surprise … She won a VIP pass for stage 2, but couldn’t make it.  She offered it to me.  Wow!

So I go there, not knowing where I’m supposed to go … I guess I’ll throw out the VIP term …  That gets people’s attention really fast.  I eventually get the star treatment and was able to meet Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, in person.  But like an idiot, I didn’t think about getting any autographs, but I did get a picture.

Since I am in the VIP section, I was able to get very close to the finish line.

and I was actually able to get some podium shots too.  That was really cool!

The finish was at the top of Metcalf Road at the motorcycle Park, which meant narrow, twisting switchbackroads leading to the park.  These were also fairly steep roads, so when spectators ride up here, they have to be careful to control their speeds going down.  Well, one of them didn’t, and went down, which meant that narrow road was blocked … Our shuttle couldn’t get to us.  So we ended up waiting for the shuttle till about 6 pm (the race ended at 4 pm).  Everything was being torn down, and be we are here waiting for our shuttle.  Same thing happened last time it was here.  No matter how many times they preach to slow down, take your time, someone gets hurt coming off the mountain.

The next day, the start is at Pismo Beach, which is a long drive.  I originally wanted to go see the start, but I would have needed to get a really early start.  To complicate matters, my dad had some stomach problems, and I felt I should go there, instead of going to the start.  Oh well … Family matters take precedence always.  

Dad is doing well … He’s getting up there in age, and diarrhea can be a common occurrence, so I just had to be on the safe side.

I was next planning to see the Queen’s stage on Thursday, up Mt. Baldy.  That’s an epic stage, that actually does a loop from Baldy Rd to Glendora Ridge Road, to Hwy 39, up Glendora Mountain Road, back to Glendora Mountain Road, before going up Mt. Baldy to the ski lift.  I could actually cat h them coming by twice​.  It was madness, lots of fun, and one big wild party.  

There was a jester, guys in duck suits, superhero outfits (there was a guy dressed up in a Wonder Woman outfit).  Only thing missing was antler man, and the priest.

This was at what we call the Cow Saddle.  When they make the left turn onto Glendora Ridge Road, they have a short 10-13% climb up to this point.  We were yelling, screaming, banging cowbells …

After the pelaton went through, and everybody left, I headed along the course to catch them on the return.  I wanted to be see them coming up the KOM on GMR.  I found a spot by the shack, and there was already a crowd settled there.  While waiting, guys were forming a wave.  Never thought I’d see that.

We can tell the pack was coming when we see choppers above us.

Of course, the big caravan of Vans, CHP, photo cars was another big indication.

I got a little better view this time, because it was not as insane as soon the Cow Saddle, but it was still pretty crazy.

Wow that was fun.  However, spectators who don’t know how these races work, always think the exciting part is over and want to head down, not knowing it is not the end of the convoy …. The race is still going on.  I gotta hand it to the Course Marshall … He kept everyone inline, had everyone behave very well.

I could have made the slog up the ski lift for more madness, but my legs weren’t feeling it today, but at least what I did see be was a blast.

Some people go to Europe, Hawaii, Asia for vacation …. Me, I follow a world class bike race.  It’s my ritual.

Farewell My Friend Wherever You May Be

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After 67 years, most arguably the best sports broadcaster in history has hung it up.  It was so extremely emotional, especially for those of us who have listened to this sport poet.

Like many young kids growing up in the 60s and 70s, we all had our own am transistor radios, and from the months of April through September, listening to Dodgers games broadcast by Vin Scully.  “Good afternoon to you, wherever you may be” … one of the most friendly and soothing greeting anyone could ever give me.  He always greeted everyone as “friends” … How could I not be a Dodgers fan, listening to this treasure.

It was interesting to know, that he became a fan, when listening to the Yankees beat up so badly on the Giants, that he felt sorry for the Giants, and then became a fan.  How ironic that he began his career broadcasting for the enemy, the Dodgers, for the next 67 years.

Occasionally, I would turn to the Angels baseball broadcast, and it just wasn’t the same.  Although I was listening to another hall of fame broadcaster (Dick Enberg, “Oh my!”), I just didn’t have the same melodic, poetic picture painted, as I was listening.  Later, when Dick Enberg moved on, the ones following were horrible.  This made me cherish what we have listening to the Dodgers broadcast.

Now try to picture someone else broadcasting this very same play.  It just wouldn’t be the same.  It was so appropriate, that the last broadcast at Dodger’s Stadium, is the clincher for the National West pennant, and on a walk-off in the bottom of the 10th inning, from a utility infielder.

It was also fitting that Vin Scully’s last game, would be broadcasting the Dodgers vs. Giants, in the Giant’s ballpark.

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I was shocked, and emotional when the Giants fans gave Vin a standing ovation, and even more shocked when in the 7th inning stretch, for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, they sung “root root for the DODGERS”. And this was in AT&T park … that was so special.

So my friend, thank you, for introducing me to baseball, all the stories, insight, and painting such a work of art in description of every baseball game you called.  You made me a baseball fan, and more importantly, a Dodgers fan.  Thank you, Vin!

Take It Easy

This past MLK Day was a sad one .. this was the day Glenn Frey, one of the founders of the Eagles, passed away.  It came as a big shock to many, and I still think about his brilliance.

They were the first real band that I followed closely, and I grew up listening to them.  I fell in love with their harmonies, the fusion of country rock, and even though none of the were originally from Southern California, us Angelinos adopted them as our own.

One of these Nights was probably what attracted me first, followed by Lyin’ Eyes … but I think I really became a fan when we got the 8-track version of the Eagles’ Greatest Hits .  Yes, you heard it … 8-track.  I love it … there was not a bad track on that.  But then, Take it Easy really caught my ears, and it just captured the sound that we all know and love.

Then, they had the Eagles Live album.  I remember the passage in Take it Easy “Well I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and such a fine site to see” … and they replaced that with “well I’m standing on a corner in Southern California, such a fine site to see” … and the crowd erupted (concert recorded at Universal Amphitheatre, I think).  When I heard that, I yelled “yeah!!!!”

It’s been a full day now, and I’m still listening to my Eagles Spotify playlist.  When’s the last time you were such a fan of an artist, that their passing away has pre-occuppied your attention so much?  I think the last time for me was John Lennon … Now I’m not going to make the comparison of Glenn Frey to John Lennon, but to me, he was that important.

So to Glenn Frey, we will all miss you.  You are such a talent, and you will be missed dearly.  Take it Easy.

Camping and Viewing ATOC Stage 7 at Mt. Diablo

For the first time in the history of Amgen Tour of California, the queen stage (the hardest, ultimate stage of the race), is in the Bay Area.  Also, since the tour was going from south to north, I didn’t follow the tour down … I basically waited for it to come here.  We were all waiting with great anticipation for this stage, and so when Ruth tweeted that she’s reserving a camp site for this, and asked if I was interested, you bet I jumped at the opportunity.

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The only drawback of this was I was not going to be able to view the Time Trial in San Jose.  I probably could have seen it, then met up at the camp site, but I didn’t want to hassle with driving, and traffic, so met up with everyone at Marco and Ruth’s house, and load up for the weekend camping trip.

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So we got to the campsite in Live Oak at Rock City. I’ve always whizzed past this on my previous rides up Diablo, so it was a little refreshing to actually enjoy the scenery … ooh, what a concept.

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After seeing up camp, we decided to scope out the best views to see where we should see the stage. We found a spot about 3km from the top, just past Camp Juniper, with a view of the road leading up to Camp Juniper, then having them whip around the hairpin. This would be an awesome spot.

Going back to Camp, I just realized I didn’t really come camping prepared. I forgot how cold it would get overnight. I didn’t bring a jacket (other than a windbreaker) and had to rely on arm warmers and knee warmers.

Our camping neighbors were a pair of families with some 5-7 year olds … and you know what a challenge they could be. They were so challenging that we didn’t need an alarm clock. At 6 am, I could hear the kid yelling “I want to play in the bush”, and was telling that with an attitude and a vengeance. Oof … I hope things improve with the kid layer on. Later I told the dad he’s got a tough job. Luckily we didn’t have to be on the road till about 9 or 10.

Now I brought this solar powered battery pack, with hopes I can charge the phone. Well I was able to get a slight charger out of it, but I couldn’t get more out of it. My phone was down to 60% charge, but I was only setting one red led lit .. normally I should see a green led. I later found out it shuts off after it fully charged a unit. I didn’t realize that it has a switch, until I came home. That teaches me for trying a new gadget without testing before a camping trip. Oh well, let’s see how long the phone lasts.

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Marco and I rode up ahead, but we could only get to a little past the 2 km mark. They had a bike valet there, and no bikes were allowed past that point. We met fellow ultra distance cyclist Jason. He made it up here .. you guessed it … on his fixie. If we wanted to continue on, we would have to hike it up the rest of the way. No thanks … we decided to just go back down to Camp Juniper.

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We settled in above Camp Juniper, and we were the first ones at that spot. It was only a matter of time before everyone else discovered that spot as well, and it soon turned into a zoo. I was soon fighting for my spot, and what was a great unobstructed view became a challenge.

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I don’t see how photographers do it .. film spring events with these challenges.

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Then the race came up to our spot. Talk about a madhouse ….

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Now usually when they race up, you wait for either the broom car, or the end of convoy car, and that gives you the sign it is safe to go down the hill.

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I don’t know if this happens in other events, but in all the ATOC hill stages I have been to, fans always break that rule, and ride down the course before all the racers have completed the course. That just drives me crazy. Maybe that’s the course Marshall in me.

When we finally went down, there was mad confusion at the junction. Seems like the course marshalls were trying to direct the team’s to go straight, even trying to direct the fans to go straight. Well over of those fans was Joy, who was camping with us. It turned out she went a couple miles down the hill before realizing this did not look familiar, and better turn back. Marco went ahead and picked her up in the van, but at least she got more climbing than the rest of us.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Camping and watching the tour … what a great combination.

ATOC Stage 4 – a Bay Area Cycling Holiday!

We should make it a cyclist holiday … every year, and I think it’s the same stage, on a Wednesday, ATOC goes through San Jose, and always has a huge turnout.  Everyone must be utilizing their PTO’s this day.  The question is, which cyclist was not out here enjoying the tour, and has to be slaving away in the office?

I rode to Sierra with my friends Michael and Henry, and met up with JoBob, who took this shot.  Thanks Jo.

I also took my helmet cam with me, and took a short video of me grinding my way up the initial steep part of Sierra (and there are many other steep sections to follow too).  But when you watch it, notice the guy in front of me with the Swiss flag.  I have a hard enough time climbing Sierra, and to carry a flag, with the wind kicking around?  That’s HTFU!

With the sucky weather (in May!!!), there was still a gloomy outlook that it might rain, but luckily it held off.  It stayed dry, but it was still very chilly.  We got a spot about 1400 feet up … couldn’t miss it … there was a “Kitten of Flanders” flag proudly displayed.  Gee, could you tell it was cold???  Everyone shivering waiting for the race to come by.

Reports were that riding up to the top … you couldn’t get to the top, as it was all roped off.  Still, we had a really good spot.  We could see the riders coming from below coming up.

We got really lucky, as the race got closer and closer to Sierra, clouds shifted, and the sun shined exactly where we were.  Perfect timing.

There was huge separation between the leaders in the front, and the rest of the riders.  There were probably 10 different packs on the climb up.  After a while, we started seeing some of the lead climbers, who made it to the finish, descent back down Sierra.  Someone forgot to tell them the back of the pack is still climbing up Sierra Road.  Wow, that could have been dicey.  It was actually quite dangerous, flying down the hill, and not knowing there’s a big pelaton still climbing up the hill.

Finally, the broomwagon comes, and we now know the end of the race has passed by.  Wow, that was fun!  Now for the descent down.

For more pics, click here

Tour de France Streaming

Since I don’t have Versus, I have to rely on live streaming video over the Internet.  It is actually not a bad alternative.  Unfortunately, most of the live streaming are in europe, and most are not in english.  Versus does have it live streaming, but unfortunately, it doesn’t come online till a little later.  Why wait?  Only thing they have on now is some bass fishing show.  Come on Versus, get with the program.

Supersport – http://www.justin.tv/oleolep2p

Versus via Veetle – http://www.veetle.com/viewChannel.php?cid=4a406cd895da1.  You have to download veetle.tv, but once downloaded, it is actually very high quality video … HD?

Supersport, as I am typing this, at 5:41 am, is showing live action.  Versus is showing a pre-stage show … blech!

Update: Later on, determined that Supersport had to stop its broadcast, due to contratual obligations with Versus.  Not sure I quite understand that.  Perhaps all the english language feeds are taken from the same Paul and Phil broadcast.  When I went to ITV, it continued commercial free.

ITV – mms://itvbrdbnd-itv4.wm.llnwd.net/itvbrdbnd_itv4?e=1236419373&h=f509e0a5853e48cc%20a0123df3553643c9

Why is Cycling Not that Popular

I was templating about the popularity of the sport I love so much. One of the frustrating things about the sport is lack of coverage. True, there is the weekly coverage of Cyclism Sundays, which is good, but in comparison to other sports, it’s considered a novelty, something less popular than bass fishing (borrowed that line from RedRider … hehehe).

Yes, there is the typical coverage on ESPN of the 4 major sports, then stock car racing (NASCAR), then Poker … Poker???? Is that really more exciting than seeing world class athletes racing through the streets of Europe? I mean, look at the physique of some of these poker players. For once, I can say I’m more physically fit that some of these contestants.

Then, there’s what I consider the second tier sports, and those are gymnastics, figure skating, golf, and tennis. Those are represented pretty regularly. I would then stick the multi-stage cycling road race in that category.

Now take a look at track cycling … now there is a sport that should be popular, shouldn’t it? Look at the logistics of covering this event. You have a stadium already built, and all you have to do is pay a little fee (much less than say basketball or football). Plus, you don’t have a bad seat in the house. With road racing, you only get to see the racers once … you get there, wait for about 1-2 hours, and they pass by you in 5 seconds, then go home. With track racing, you could be there the whole day, and see all of them. Plus, you can see more tactics. So why is this not covered at all on tv? We have to wait once every 4 years for it to come.

Anyhow, what brought this on was the fact that we have an American World Champion in Individual Pursuit … Taylor Phinney. Did anyone know that the World Championships were taking place, and that an American got top honors in one of the races?

My main beef is that track cycling can be so exciting from a spectator perspective. A lot of people are shocked when they watch the tour pass by their city, and suddenly they pass by, and say “is that it?”. Track racing should be more popular, but the main question is, why isn’t it? You can even see a crash, which will wake the fans up (not that it’s a good thing)

Even with Lance coming back, cycling hasn’t really taken off in popularity. I still see it less popular than poker or tennis. If I asked someone on the streets, who would they rather see … Lance or Phelps? Most likely, the answer would be Phelps.

Another Day at the Races

Ok, I still have not chilled out from the Tour … and Sunday, there was the Tri-Flow Grand Prix held in Menlo Park. Since I didn’t get a chance to take many pictures, I was going to take a few today.

Today, Monday, is my birthday … woohoo. But on Sunday, I kinda neglected to tell anyone it was my birthday … and Michael (mellum76) found out, and wanted to do a combined Tri-Flow Grand Prix viewing and birthday celebration in my honor … wow, I was flattered.

There were a few NorCal BF’ers in the race … Tim (Bottlerocket), Henry (blastradius), and Pete (taxi777) …. however, Pete had a little logistics issue which he will tell you in his blog … I won’t go into that. Only non-racing BF’ers to show up there was me, and Michael.
It’s always cool to see absorb the racing environment … there is this electricity in the air when you are in the presense of extremely fit athletes (of course, I’m not talking about myself, but of everyone else).
This event featured some of Northern California’s top cycling racing talents … I didn’t know that before I went, but now I do. I met cyclicious, who has a famous blog (http://www.cyclelicio.us), who blogs anything and everything cycling. He’s also a very avid twitterer … Henry and I felt like we were in a presense of greatness.
I got there early enough to see Tim race in the Cat 5 Men’s race … that was my first time seeing a cat 5 race in person, and it didn’t look as intimidating as I thought … but then again, I wasn’t the one in the race.
I stuck around long enough to catch the women’s 1/2/3 race. This featured the best of Northern California racing. I was just taking in the moment … I was wondering why there were so many photographers taking pictures of the pack for the start …

It was a fun day, but yet another day where I did not get into any real riding done. And next week, I’m visiting dad, and the following week, I’m on call … hmmm … I really gotta get off my butt and get some hard riding in. Maybe with daylight savings time, I might get some quality miles in after work … but then again, I didn’t do anything today. I suck!
Click here for more pics