Monday, May 14, 2012

Amgen Tour of California

It's not easy to find time to write blog updates when being part of the largest and most important road race in the USA. Since arriving in San Francisco on Saturday, there has been very little downtime with computer access to write a few words. Right now it is early on Monday, and I am sitting in my hotel room in Santa Rosa before our transfer south to Santa Cruz.
The ATOC touches on most part of the state
For the past two days, the race entourage has stayed in the same three or four hotels here in Santa Rosa, where the first stage started and ended. Aside from the Stage 5 time trial, all other stages will be point-to-point, and the start generally is not in the same city as where the last stage ended. So, all of that requires careful planning of the transfers. I am here as the UCI's Doping Control Officer, and the testing is done in an RV that travels with us. The race organization has provided me with an assistant who drives the RV and helps with the set-up, while I will drive a car from point to point. Today, for example, the race start is just off Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (55 miles south of here, in heavy traffic), but I won't see any of it because by the time of the race start I will be on the way to the finish line in Santa Cruz for set-up, chaperone training, meeting with the day's medical inspector, etc.
This is the set-up that will be used for the whole race—my HQ
Yesterday I did get a chance to ride my bike (I brought the Ritchey along) for 15 miles before the start of the day and another 23 miles at the end of the day. Most stages will end around 4 p.m., and by the time that the doping controls are finished (and I have found a UPS station to immediately ship the samples) it will most likely be too late to go out for a ride—especially since I will still have to drive to the hotel and get checked in. Paperwork comes afterward. Not all transfers will be as demanding as today's (having to cross through the entire Bay area after coming through Marin and then negotiating some of the tight roads in the Santa Cruz area will be challenging), so I hope to get to ride a few times.

I don't see much of the race, if any. There's the start, and yesterday there was the finish. In between, I won't see the race since I'm of course not part of the race caravan, and as DCO I have to be at the finish well before the race arrives there. Driving in one of the commissaire's cars is thus impossible. (In Philadelphia and also in Saguenay I was able to hop into the car for a few laps of the circuits that were used.) So, this is definitely a different type of ballgame.
Yesterday's Stage 1 sprint finish in downtown Santa Rosa
Nevertheless, is is extremely exciting to be part of such a huge event. The professionalism in the production is amazing. The Technical Guide and the Housing Guide (neatly spelling out where who is going to be accommodated every night) each count over 70 pages! We have all been issued GPS units pre-loaded with key locations for each stage, and gas cards make it possible for all of us to stay fueled up without a mound of paperwork or reimbursements.

We'll see what the next few days bring. Right now it is time for me to finish off this entry and start the day in earnest. I will try to write an update in a few days—maybe a few more photo ops come up along the way, but don't hold your breath hoping for some of those iconic race shots that you may have seen of this race in the past, with the peloton rolling down Highway 1.



  1. Sorry we couldn't hook up yesterday. Thought we might be able to but then you had to be way too busy when I was in town on my bicycle. Had salsa and pepper sauce for you but they went to someone else when I realized we weren't going to cross paths. Didn't want to call your cell 'cause I figured you'd be busy. Catch you during Vineman!

  2. Will do, Kai. Yes. I WAS busy, and I have been ever since.