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Old 02-28-06, 12:38 PM   #1
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ToC Pix/Mini-Report, Stages 6 & 7

Had a lot of fun over the weekend when the Tour of California finally rolled into SoCal. Saturday's stage started in Santa Barbara and rolled through Ojai, Santa Paula and Moorpark, then finally into Thousand Oaks. My buddy Rob and I went to one of the king-of-the-mountain points just outside of Ojai to watch some climbing. I knew the area really well, so I took us in the back way, we parked just south of town, then rode our bikes to the KOM. By the time we got there, folks were already starting to gather along the side of the road. We climbed the hill -- about a mile and a half averaging 6% -- to the cheers and cowbells of the spectators (they were cheering for everyone who rode up).

We got to the top, then decided we had a better vantage point a little farther down. So we found our perch and hung out for about an hour and a half until the caravan started to come by. It was quite the scene, and now I know why they do it in Europe for all the great races. Even though we only saw about 20 seconds of action, we had a great time before the race came through. I can only imagine an Alp stage where the field is all broken up and the riders are spread out over 30, 40, 60 minutes.

But we weren't done. After the final guy rolled through (a jelly belly dude who was more than 10 minutes behind), we got back on our bikes and hauled A$$ back to our car. We took the back roads down and got into Thousand Oaks about 25 minutes before the finish. It was truly an awesome day.

On Sunday, my wife and I rode down to Redondo to watch the last stage. We got there about an hour and a half before the start (again) and got a pretty decent spot about 70 meters from the finish. As you can see from the pictures, this spot turned out to be just about perfect for all the opportunities it gave us (meeting Paul and Bobke, watching the sprint finish develop). Any closer to the start/finish required VIP credentials, which we didn't have because we're just the peasant class.

You can see more pics on my website.

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