Adventures don’t have to take you far from home. Are you a cycling fan? Instead of saving for years to follow the Tour de France in Europe, try a regional stage race. Such as the Amgen Tour of California. And, heck, you really don’t even have to be a huge cycling nut to enjoy the day.
HI Travel Tales is lucky to be based in a cycling mecca in Northern California – so lucky in fact that the Tour of California has come through or near our home base nearly every year since its inception. And of course we have made it to the side of the course many of those years.
Cycling fan or not, we are sure you will fully enjoy the pomp, circumstance, parade and social revelry of a stage at a cycling event like the Amgen. Pack food and beverages. Schedule a rendezvous with friends. Pick a spot on the course. Get there early enough to set up your little base. And enjoy hanging out in the spring sunshine (assuming it is a sunny year or at least one without deluges).
Really, it doesn’t have to be about the cycling – although the cycling is indeed cool. We promise anybody with a heartbeat will find the hoop-la of the day invigorating — from the parade of pre-race course vehicles and smiling cops on motorcycles, to the colorful appearance of the smoothly snaking peloton in the distance or being within arm’s reach of the pedaling cyclists.
Nevada County has seen the start of the Tour of California race twice – once when a late May snowfall made a trek around Lake Tahoe for the cyclists impossible. And, in May 2015, the race will kick off its second day in the visit-worthy Gold Country town of Nevada City after Day 1 in Sacramento. Look for 120.4 miles of historic foothill beauty from Nevada City to Grass Valley, down to the American River, through the town of Cool and out to a finish in Lodi.
In 2010, the Amgen course wound out wildflower-lined country roads to a narrow double-hairpin switchback on a one-lane road over a canal. We were one of a few dozen who scoped out the location, claimed a spot on the canal two hairpin turns up and settled in for several hours. “Hey there to those in the box seats!” yelled an announcer over a loudspeaker in a pre-peloton vehicle – setting up a roar from our little crowd. And it was breathtaking indeed to see the flowing pack of color sweep around the first of three turns as it slowed and headed up the hill toward us.
The Amgen Tour of California cyclists were gone in minutes but the memories remain, making you hungry for another experience. And that’s why we’ll will again be course-side at the next Amgen Tour of California.