One of my favorite parts of spring is the return of the Amgen Tour of California. For those who are not as interested in professional cycling as I am, the Tour of California is a multistage cycling race (much like the Tour de France, though quite a bit shorter) that takes place throughout California. It’s become one of the largest and most important cycling races in America, and it brings a lot of elite cyclists from all over the world to race across the Golden State.
I started to care about this race in 2010, which was one of the years that Modesto (my home at the time) served as a finishing city. At the time, I was just starting to get into cycling, both as a form of transportation and as recreation, and having this race come into Modesto with guys like Lance Armstrong participating (remember, this was before his fall from grace) only fueled my fire. I enjoyed watching the race on television, but I really enjoyed seeing them in person. You have no idea how fast these guys ride until you see them in person.
I watched it for a few years when they were in Modesto, but I haven’t been able to see any of the last couple of years, mostly because of all the craziness that came with having a kid and a stressful job. However, as the race rolled around this year, I found myself in a place where my job wasn’t quite as crazy as it used to be and Sawyer was getting to be old enough that he just might enjoy something like this. So, I hatched a plan to take the wife and the kid to San Jose to watch the beginning of Stage 3. Though the start of the stage isn’t ideal for viewing because it’s just the riders leaving, there was a cycling festival and Raging Waters was opening up some of its waterslides for free, so we couldn’t pass that up.
(A side note for those that care about these kinds of races – Stage 3 was epic. It took the riders over Mt. Hamilton and then ended with a summit finish on Mt. Diablo. I was originally planning on riding my bike up to somewhere on Mt. Hamilton to watch them in the climb, but I took one look at the elevation profile and figured I wasn’t up for it. Maybe next year…)
The journey started out pretty rough. Sawyer whined most of the car ride and then ended up throwing up all over himself on Highway 17. That was frustrating to someone who just wanted to watch a bike race, but sometimes I just have to remind myself that this is how life is with kids.
And just like that, the gun went off and the race started. And it was over. Like I said, starting lines aren’t the best place to watch a bike race. So, we quickly walked through the festival and made our way to the water park, where Sawyer proceeded to play in the water for two hours and be the happiest kid on the planet.