tour of california

On Sunday the Amgen Tour of California kicks off! It is the premier cycling event here in the United States, and one of our own has dominated the event for the past three years: Levi Leipheimer. Levi lives up in Santa Rosa, which is north of San Fran in what is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of our planet.

Check out Levi descending Pine Flat Road over in Sonoma County back in Jan.

The Tour will be broadcast live on Versus.

In Tour type cycling races, there is a single overall winner who has the least amount of time at the end. The fastest cyclist doesn’t always have the least amount of time, there are 16 teams, each with at least 8 riders all on the same course at the same time. This mass of riders is called the peloton. It shifts the air as it moves along making it easier for the riders in the middle to go faster, and the riders on the outside are forced to fall back. As the outside riders fall to the back , just like an onion peel, the riders in the middle eventually are in the front and will be forced back. Normally each team has a head rider who is better suited for an overall race. Levi is the man for California, Lance has been the man in France, etc. Now lets add in game play and strategy where one team sabotages another’s attempt to put their head rider in the front. Lets throw in the chess game of the peloton, over 100miles a day for a week. Some days the course is flat and fast which will favor your riders who are good at short bursts of speed: we call them sprinters. Then there are the cardio days from hell where you climb mountains spending hours upon hours creeping up an 11% grade for 8 miles in peloton, then zoom down the other side at 50mph to the next climb that is 13% for 4 miles and so on and so on. Now that you are wrapping your head around that, lets throw in a time trial where each rider starts on the course alone and goes as fast as he can for 70 or 80 miles removing the team element for a day. Now a few days later lets do the same time trial type thing, but have the team all have to go together, at the same time, working in a line one cutting the wind for the others until it wears him down and he peels off to the back and the next rider takes the lead… All the time you are traveling at speeds up to 60mph and wearing gear that is almost as protective as a swimsuit.

Some small cars have trouble going up Sierra…

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