Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Behind the scene of Stage 8 Part II

Mike Meyer of the found this...

Eric Smith says we are not able to make the KOM & the Finish - Tell me it is not true...

How to "Spectate" Stage 8
(What goes on behind the curtains) Eric Smith, the ToC course director

This is a challenging course for the riders and the race fans. There are four prime places to see the race:

1. Race Start in Rancho Bernardo – If you want to see the riders and get some autographs, this is the only place. The teams are pretty accessible and team parking is open for everyone to walk through. Astana and Lance are going to be pretty invisible due to their security concerns. If the only thing that is missing in your life is to talk with Lance and get his autograph, you might want to change your priorities. Each rider is required to sign-in at the start of the Stage. We have a short corridor on each end of the sign-in stage where people can get autographs – Autograph Alley. You can usually score any autograph you want, but with the "Lance Factor" this year, that area will be slammed with people. If you are at the start, you will not be able to get to Palomar to see the climb. While the race starts at noon, the road up Palomar will be shut down to cars at 9:00am, and any available parking near Palomar will be gone by early Sunday morning. Your next options would be to go to Cole Grade or to the Finish line, but it will be very difficult to do both. There are no neutral laps in Ranch Bernardo.

2. Palomar Mountain – We expect up to 10,000 people to watch the race from South Grade Rd or the KOM. South Grade will be closed to cars by 9:00am. Any available parking on South Grade will be gone by Friday. East Grade will remain open longer but you will not be allowed to exit down South Grade from the top until the complete Caravan passes. All of the camping spots have been sold out and there is only parking on the top for a few hundred cars. No Parking Areas will be strictly enforced and tow trucks will be on-site.

The best way to get to Palomar will be by bike. Plan on parking several miles out. Those areas on Hwy 76 leading to South Grade from both the east and west where there is parking will be used for our two feed zones and no spectator parking will be available. Once the race heads up Palomar, spectators will not be allowed down South Grade until the end of Caravan passes. Since the race is expected to shatter and the caravan will be stretched out, Hwy 76 will continue to remain closed to allow the entire race to come back on Hwy 76 westbound for Cole Grade. People will be held on South Grade until the entire race passes again. You should expect at least a half hour wait from the front to the end of the caravan.

If you are going to watch from a decent spot on Palomar (near the top), that will be it for you. You will not be able to catch the start, Cole Grade, or the finish. The only alternative is to watch from the very bottom of the climb (not too exciting) where they turn onto South Grade. Once the caravan passes, you would have the chance to watch from Cole Grade or the finish. Forget driving to Cole Grade from Palomar. Parking will be long gone. It is downhill and not that far from South Grade to Cole Grade so plan on riding. Also, we have not finalized the road closures for Hwy 76. Driving on Hwy 76 may not even be an option. Everyone is aware of the "ingenuity" of the true (rabid) cycling fan, especially CHP. With only one road in and one road out, I am putting my money on CHP this time.

3. Cole Grade – I think this will be the sleeper spot to watch the race. You will be able to catch the start and get to Cole Grade, but parking will likely be gone so plan on hiking a bit or take your bike. I suspect the race will be shattered by the time it reaches Cole Grade. Like South Grade, you will not be allowed to drive in either direction of Cole Grade until the end of caravan passes. If you park on Cole Grade, that will be the end of your race. By the time you get to Escondido, you can help us pack things for the trip back to Georgia.

4. Race Finish in Escondido – Who knows, you might watch history being made. Does Lance have the goods to wear the yellow jersey at the finish? It should be a great party and the Lifestyle Expo is always a great place to cruise through. Also a good time to grab some nice deals. There are no circuits in Escondido, but you can expect an incredible sprint to win the toughest stage we have ever had.

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