I plan on checking out Stage 5 in Santa Barbara. I was curious about a few things and hope that those of you that have been going to the stages in Northern CA can answer.
1. How quickly do the good viewing spots along the finishing stretch get crowded? I plan in getting there 2hrs before the expected finishing time.
2. Is there anything to see at the finish in the way of team support vehicles, swag booths, techo weenie stuff? I would think the start of the stage would be the most interesting in the way of checking out the bikes getting set-up and the riders warming up.
3. Who passes out those long blue balloon sticks for making noise?
4. Does the Specialized angel look better in pics or up close?
5. How cool is it to have a Tour of CA and see a number of top riders racing on the roads we train on?
1. The viewing spots crowd up in the last hour before the race. Get there early and start talking to the people around you. It's a cool vibe that you don't get at other events.
2. The team cars divert from the course at about 500 to 300 meters before the line. They park in a big area nearby. Don't bother them. Wait until the next morning's start venue. They're much more approachable then. The riders are very accessible, but don't act like a stalker. Just calmly ask to have their picture taken. You'll be surprised at how cool they are.
The expo area is full of techno-geeky stuff.
3. No idea. I wish they'd stop. (joking - the noise is great)
4. You mean "Super Chicken"? Yeah, she looks great... in pics. She looks heavily medicated in real life.
5. Unbeatably cool.
I know its a little after-the-fact here but it may be useful for other people looking at other days (or people looking in the archives for next year's info:
1. The top of he climb to San Marcos Pass never really got too crowded, but of course the roads to it were closed about an hour ahead of time. I got there about an hour and a half early.
2. I got to the finish shortly after the podium ceremony (had to ride down from the pass!), and on the way down Castillo was given a free shirt. Got a free hat, cliff bars, and pancakes (from one of Levi's sponsors) at the pass.
4. I think she looks better up close, but she looks pretty good in pictures too.
5. Very cool, but the best part was the chance to blast down the 154 ahead of the traffic and have the road all to myself. I was in a small pack with my friend and one other guy and we pretty much went 40+ the whole way down.