Amgen Tour of California Stage 8 KOM: Cole Grade Road

A gem of a climb loved by locals, made all more difficult by being last on a day that includes the short, stout Highland Valley Road, the narrow and testy Lake Wohlford Road — and the HC monster, Palomar Mountain. Great views back in Pauma Valley from here. If someone can stay away on Palomar and deliver the goods here, they will win the stage. If there is a lead group at the base of this, look for some serious attacking. A week of rain, cold, time trialing, traveling and riding in February should produce something special.

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Amgen Tour of California Stage 8 KOM: Palomar Mountain Summit 5,200+ Feet

The pro peloton will easily wind it up on this last section. Keep an eye on the gear selection here. It’s very possible that a strong man uses the 53 big ring and 24 or 21 tooth cog. Most exciting for fans: Will the strongest be strewn across the mountain due to an audacious attack, and can anyone stay away before sealing the deal on Cole Grade Road before bombing back down Lake Wohlford Road into Escondido for the last few miles of Stage 8?

Amgen Tour of California: Stage 8 KOM: Palomar Mountain @ 5,000 Feet

Little panorama just past 5,000-foot mark. Riders have a few more switchbacks past here to reach summit. Predicting that tempo will be lifted between the 4,000 and 5,000-foot markers. A fun place to play cat-and-mouse since the switchbacks are short and you can disappear from those less fortunate if you have great legs on this day. 

Amgen Tour of California Stage 8 KOM: Highland Valley Road last piece…

Final short video commentary on KOM Stage 8 Amgen Tour of California, Highland Valley Road. 

In a few days, I’ll mix in Lake Wohlford Road (another Stage 8 KOM points opportunity) in my training to give you a mini taste at bicycle level of what awaits the pro peloton there. Then the big one, Palomar, followed by Cole Grade Road.

Amgen Tour of California Stage 8 KOM: Highland Valley Road base…

Here is some video of the base of the climb on Highland Valley Road for the first KOM points in the final of the Amgen Tour of California.

Riders will have a leisurely spin out of Rancho Bernardo, then wind through the flat of Highland Valley Road past the 2007 wildfire burn area before being greeted with a stout little climb. These switchbacks will provide some entertainment if there is a tight race for KOM points. 

54 seconds worth here.  

TT tunneling…

When I saw Lance Armstrong “tweet” that he was flying down to San Diego from Santa Rosa today, I thought I’d give it a go.

My wife Therese and I are fans. We’ve ridden in the Ride for the Roses in Austin, Texas. We donate to Livestrong. We love cycling. 

Lance coming to San Diego on a rainy, windy Saturday gave me a longshot chance to meet him and get his signature for two personal keepsakes:

  1. The February 2009 Outside magazine featuring him on the cover
  2. A 2004 Ride for the Roses jersey

 

If you’re mellow and keep a respectful distance, I figured I might just have a chance. It would be for my wife. It would go up on the wall in our house as a daily reminder about the preciousness of life.

Liz Kreutz, Lance’s photographer who has a beautiful portfolio of  work here, lent me a hand on the Outside magazine cover effort. As Lance worked his BlackBerry in the backseat of a rented Chevy Suburban before his wind tunnel testing, she asked him on my behalf, handing him the Sharpie and magazine.

All of sudden, there it was. The cover signed to “TB”, my pet nickname for Therese. Liz was smiling. I was stunned.

Later, after taking an afternoon break and chatting up the Cervelo technicians assembling bikes for testing in the same wind tunnel facility this coming week, I gave it one more go. Lance was finished with his work for the day. His bikes were being packed up by the crew, including two Belgiun Astana soigneurs with great rapport. People suddenly got quiet and serious.

This time, I would ask personally. You only live once.

As Lance bounded toward the caravan, including Johan Bruyneel, Steve Hed, Liz and  Trek folks, I showed him the Ride for the Roses jersey and asked if he might be able to take a moment and sign it for Therese. 

Lance didn’t hesitate. Every second counts. 

You might wonder how a grown man becomes a fanboy. Silly, right? Wrong. It’s simple. I’m a cycling nut. I’m an enthusiast of the human species. 

But I’m also the husband of a cancer survivor, a person of incredible courage and heart who has taught me much about how to Livestrong.

Thank you, Therese, from the bottom of my heart. I’m so happy you’ve been able to move with a clean bill of health beyond the difficulties you had to experience in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

And Lance, I know you may never read this, but I have to let you know that you made her day. I just want to say to you, and to Liz, many, many thanks. 

Livestrong. 

 

To TB

To TB

For Therese

For Therese

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VIPs…

Looking for a base camp to take in the Tour of California?

Downtown Escondido (finish line) provides the best opportunity to see the pros in one place the longest.

But my heart’s with the angels of the mountains who — as Paul Sherwin would say — dance on the pedals.

Game plan: Be in Solvang on Friday for the TT where a single street block separates the start and finish lines of loop course. Then ride Palomar early Sunday before the CHP shuts down South Grade Road at 9 a.m., watch the action on big screen in Mother’s before dashing out (in adidas sandals, not cleats) and witness the best in the business as they summit the category 1 climb.

Capture it with a Flip Mini video camera. Act like Tifosa.

Of course, also set TiVO at home.