The 2011 Amgen Tour of California is over. Despite a burst of winter that spoiled the scheduled start, the Tour was a big plus for California.
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The original field of 150 riders from 19 different pro teams was down to 122 by the end of the race. With the cancellation of Stage 1 at South Lake Tahoe and the move from Squaw Valley to Nevada City for the Stage 2 start, the race covered a little more than 600 miles instead of the original 800.
The Amgen Tour of California is the largest cycling event in the United States. It is ranked internationally as either the third or fourth most important race of the season for an elite group of professional riders.
Cycling fans from our area traveled to Nevada City for the start of Stage 2 and Sacramento for the end. Stage 3 started in Auburn and ended in Modesto.
Those of us who followed Stage 2 and 3 enjoyed an up-close look at the teams’ motor coaches, their bikes, the riders, team cars, Amgen organizers and various bike manufacturers’ tents — everything that make a race like this such a wonderful family outing.
Although the final figures aren’t in, it’s estimated that California will realize about $300 million from this one event. Vendors, fans, cities, counties and the state all participated in the spending and receiving end of the race.
On top of the colorful spectacle and general fun, the spinoff will continue. Potential tourists have seen how beautiful our area is.
Bike shops everywhere held sales in conjunction with the Tour. The race generally inspires a greater interest in cycling and an up tick in sales.
Locally Golden Spoke on Placerville Drive and Placerville Bike Shop on Broadway see an increased interest in bikes and cycling gear when the Amgen rolls around. It’s good for the local economy.
Restaurants, coffee shops and hotels all profited, even those not directly on the route. Ione was full of out-of-town spectators when the riders blasted through in Stage 3. South Lake Tahoe was full of energetic and enthusiastic fans, even after the plug was pulled on Stage 1.
Our weather this time of year is particularly suited to cycling. It doesn’t matter what kind of bike you own or your level of interest, this is a great time to swing your legs up on a bike and start pedaling.
The mild temperatures make for very comfortable riding on our local trails and roads. There is always danger of the occasional snow, hail or thunderstorm in May and June in the eastern part of the county but mostly it’s just pure pleasure — it’s unlikely you will turn into an ice cube or melt during a ride this time of year.
Check the weather before leaving and pack a light layer just in case a cool wind comes up. You’ll need water, sunscreen and a snack if you plan to be gone more than an hour. Enjoy.