Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 15, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Final day of the race.  The plan for the day was to ride our bikes with Shawn to see the finish. 
Sam & Micah were going to a friend’s house.  Mary Ann had left for work by the time we got up.  Bob walked Buck and then joined Shawn and the boys for Micah’s birthday breakfast.  Shawn made pancakes and bacon.  I finished up the log for yesterday and then went in to say hello.  Micah and I went out front to test some of Micah’s birthday gifts, a styro plane and another type of plane that is small and air is pumped into it with a mini type of bike pump.  The little air pumped plane flew pretty good, and with the help of some masking tape from Bob to hold the tail wing in place it really went sailing.  Next the boys, Buck and I went for a walk.  We walked around their school which has a very impressive playground which the boys told me all about – the different courts, backboards and what grade got to play on what section.  Soon it was time for Shawn to drop the boys off at their friends.

When Shawn returned we were ready for our 15 mile, easy rolling hills, mostly flat ride to the race.  I don’t know why we believed him!  After all, Shawn’s idea of an easy ride is 100 miles in the mountains!  Well off we went with plenty of warm clothes and rain gear in my back-pack, Buck in Bob’s back-pack, and our tennis shoes in Shawn’s back-pack with his spare clothes.  It was cloudy, cool and rain had been predicted.

Mileage update:  Bob said we’ve gone 2800 miles thus far in the trip.   (Right now Bob is driving – it’s about 8:30 pm and we are trying to get out of this crazy LA traffic).

We got to the race an hour and ½ later.  There were hills – many down- many up – never flat!  It was a nice ride. We had to stop and take off some of our outer gear shortly after starting, since the temperature was rising. Bob’s foot gave him a bit of trouble – he had to really work to get it in his cycling shoe – seems his foot now looks like perhaps two toes are broken and swollen across the top- so sitting while pedaling was better than standing.  

As we were deciding where to park our bikes close to the race action, I spotted the Nissan tent and we headed straight to it.  At the stage in Salvang, Alfred & Chipper told us about it.  I had asked Chipper where he bought his shirt since we had been checking the vendors to buy it and we hadn’t spotted it.  He said Nissan was giving them away if you signed up to win a car.  Well, this morning we hit the jackpot!  What timing – they must have decided to give away all the stuff they had left since it was the last day. The boys were giving out copious amounts of t-shirts, hat and water bottles.   . 
Now, on to finding something to eat and get a beer. 

The race finish was in Thousand Oaks.  It finished in the downtown and it was beautiful.  There were restaurants with outdoor seating, a grassy area in the middle with a water pond and the jumbo tron.  I was busy scoping out where to eat while Bob & Shawn lounged in the grass.  I forgot to ask Bob to take some pictures – drats.  Well I found a place where we could hook Bucky up just on the outside of the seating area, went to tell Bob and Shawn and they told me the riders were coming soon – no time to eat, we didn’t want to miss the action.  It was 2:00 and they had predicted the riders would arrive around 3:00. 

Bob’s radar found the spot to end all!  We could see the riders pass us and look to our left and see them again making a turn to go uphill.  It was a five mile circuit that they repeated about 5 times.  While we were cheering on the boys Elli Ochowicz walked by carrying her Italian Greyhound, Bella.  What a great surprise – I had just spoken to Sheila in the morning and she said she didn’t think Elli would be there since she watched yesterday’s stage end in Mt. Baldy.  Shortly after seeing Elli I noticed team support showing up in our area with muscette bags and water bottles.  Not knowing how many laps and the distance I didn’t want to say I think this is a feed zone.   Well we didn’t wait long before the riders and the team cars came by.  I spotted Och riding shot-gun in the team car so I yelled hello.  He turned in his seat and waved.  Next lap Och jumps out of the car and a friend of Elli’s jumps in.  So we get the scoop from Och.  Yep, 5 mile laps and repeat at least 5-7 times, I didn’t catch that part, and this was a feed zone. 

Now the exciting part – the BMC team car would come into view, Och would stick up his arm like he was hailing a cab, the car would pull over, and they’d do a co-pilot switch.  Och asked ahead of time who wanted to go so the person would be ready.  I whispered to Elli Bob would love to go –then when no one was speaking up, I said Och Bob would like to go if no one else wants to.  He said ok get ready – and it may be the last passenger, if there is a crash or something they won’t stop again. (Shawn & I said to each other that would not be something we’d like to do – surprised I feel that way aren’t you)?

So Bob hopped in, with the camera and off they went.  Bob gave me a recap of how he heard and saw the action from the car.  I asked him if he introduced himself to the driver and mechanic in the back seat riding with all the wheels.  He said no – the driver was concentrating so he didn’t want to interrupt.  Duh!  All the cars were equipped with two-way radios and a woman was giving play by play action. For instance, she’d say team United Health care come up, your rider has his right arm up.  Or she’d say there is a breakaway with 40 seconds on the two riders chasing.  And so it went.  The car came through and Och waved it on so Bob would ride the last lap also.   

I forgot to mention Shawn’s sister, Stacy, drove her car, parked her car and then rode her mountain bike to the finish area so we had met up with Stacy before we walked over to our spot to cheer from.  Stacy and her husband only live a block from Shawn and Mary Ann.

When the race finished we made our way back to our bikes to wait for Bob.  Shawn asked Stacy if she wanted to ride back home with us and then we could come pick her car up.  Shawn was realizing he needed to get back to pickup the kids and so he would “hammer” back and Stacy could ride with us at a more normal pace.

Great plan.    We decided we would stop at the first gas station we saw and get some energy bars and drinks, otherwise I would bonk.  We made our stop and headed up the long hill out of town.  Got to the top and had to ditch more clothes and switch to my new t-shirt.  We enjoyed the ride, Stacy pointed out different wild flowers by name as we went up hills.  We were about 10 minutes away from home and on a pretty busy road where the cars were coming pretty close.  So close in fact that Bob couldn’t move out to avoid the road grate and followed Stacy over it.  Stacy’s mountain bike tires made it but not Bob’s.  His back wheel dropped down between the grates and flatted.  He yelled a warning to me and pulled over.  There was a sidewalk we stepped up onto to change the flat and let Bucky out to stretch and cool off.  Bucky has been such a trooper – this was the longest he has ridden in the backpack.  Sometimes now I even catch him resting his head on Bob’s back and taking a little nap!   It wasn’t long before we were back on the road and soon arrived home.

Bob showered quickly and then borrowed Shawn’s car to drive Stacy to pickup her car.  Sam road along with.  Shawn worked on getting dinner ready, I did a quick couple loads of laundry and Micah played with Buck.  While I iced my foot, Micah did his school presentation for me.  He would be doing his presentation tomorrow for his family history assignment.  It was all about his great grandma, and boy was she interesting! 

Everyone was now ready for dinner so we ate Shawn’s great America dinner of hamburgers, fries, fruit salad, green salad and vegetable dish.  It hit the spot!  After dinner, we turned on 60 minutes to watch the story about Tyler Hamilton, Olympic cycling gold medal winner – Postal team Tour De France rider.  Tyler was found guilty of doping with performance enhancement drugs.  So now he wanted to tell the story regarding Lance Armstrong using drugs as well as many other riders.

Well – that was that - and so we gave our hugs goodbye and hit the road homeward bound via Colorado.  Bob drove until about 10:00 and then we pulled into a Flying J at Barstow to fuel up and sleep in the designated RV lot. 

What a great Amgen Tour of California it was!!!! 

Bob here.  Thanks a bunch for sticking with us.  Now you can read about our wagon train journey home if you want. 

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