Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tour of California Time Trial Solvang

Tour de France 08 Winner Carlos Sastre

My parents invited me to go to the Amgen Tour of California time trial stage in Solvang yesterday and I jumped at the chance! It's just a short drive for us and we hit very little traffic through Santa Barbara for a Friday morning. We arrived and caught a shuttle into town. We arrived about 2 hors from the start time and the town was already filling with spectators out to see the race and or Lance Armstrong. As we walked down Team Row we first came upon Team Saxo Banks TT bikes! Beautiful Specialized Transitions. Then we walked up on the Garmin camp and were treated to Christian Vande Velde getting ready to pre-ride the course. He's definately one of my favorites!

Christian Vande Velde

Next was the "Rock is not Dead" Rock Racing area. Tyler Hamilton was being interviewed by someone and then was very gracious to sign some autographs for the crowd. It was kind of funny the dress of the crowd hanging around the Rock Racing area. It was very Hollywood!

Tyler Hamilton Being Interviewed

We had walked by the Quick Step area a couple of times and there was always a group of ladies waiting for a look at Tom Boonen. When we walked up again he had just finished warming up and was heading into his RV with a gaggle of ladies in tow! It made for a great pic for me though!

Tornado Tom Boonen

We finally walked into the Astana camp. Johan was out doing interviews and Levi's wife and parents were also walking around with his little chihuahua. The team cars also pulled up with Levi and Lances TT bikes. What a sight!

Levi's Family and Beloved Dog

We walked through the expo area and then went and found a great spot about 125m from the start house. It was cool to watch my parents experience the race. They were so big eyed and full of joy! I felt the same way but it was inspiring to see their excitement. We watched the first 20 or so fly by at full speed and snapped a few pics. Here is a great one:

Tyler Hamilton at the Start

We then took off towards the finish to try to find a good spot. We found a great spot on some stairs and decided to eat the great lunch that moms brought! I took tons of pictures as the riders flew by to the finish. We were about 300m to the finish. We tried to get a little closer but just couldn't find as sweet as a spot so we then headed back. Floyd Landis was open mouthed as he passed by. Hurting. Ouch. Get it?

Floyd Landis Hammering it Home

As it was about time for Lance to come through and the crowd started filling in! It was getting pretty intense! There were even folks climbing into trees to get a good look!

People Waiting for a Glimpse!

We could sporadically hear the crappy announcers and we knew that Lance was a little over a minute behind the Zabriski. But when he came by the crowd went TOTALLY INSANE! Awesome!

The Man..The Legend..Lance Armstrong

Zabriski was on pace to beat Levi's course record but we knew at the time split Levi had 8 seconds on him. Barring a catastrophe a course record was coming! Zabriski was flying so smooth as he passed.

David Zabriski Briefly Setting The Course Record

At one point they had reported that Michael Rogers was 2 minutes ahead at the time check and the crowd was BUMMED! A few seconds later they came back on the radio and said that there was a mistake and there was no way that could be right! He was totally moving when he flew by us! He ended up 4th on the day.

Michael Rogers 300m From Finish

With Zabriski on the board with a record time we only awaited Levi! As he came over the hill the crowd got louder and louder! He was in the zone, opened mouthed but smooth as he FLEW by! 1st place! Levi Strong! Just as Lance said!

Levi 300m From Winning

We were all on a high of what we had just witnessed and the whole crowd was buzzing. We headed over towards the Astana bus and were treated to Lance cooling down as he downloaded to his coach Chris Carmichael and Johan. Chris Horner was signing autographs and the crowd was a little crazy. Everyone (including myself) wanted a peek at Lance! It was cool!

Lance Cooling Down

Our very amazing day was capped off by an hour wait for the shuttle. Only to be topped by an HOUR 4 mile ride back to our car! Only yet to be topped by a horrendous drive through Gaviota, Goleta, Santa Barbara, and finally Carpentaria! It gave us all a great chance to go over all the amazing things we saw and experienced through the day! Thanks Ma and Pa! I had a great time! Way to OWN it Levi!

Keep Climbing,

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