2016 American Tour of Kalifornia: Stage 03
Tuesday May 17, 2016 | Thousand Oaks
If you’re a reader and consumer of Manual for Speed (or in other words if Manual for Speed is in your personal Fan Club), and you read these Race Reports, then you may (understandably) be confused about how much we actually like the institution of Professional Bike Racing.
Santa Barbara County @ Gibraltar Rd
167.5km / 104.1mi
All of them, otherwise known as 15,815 – 7.7 miles.
Best Western Royal Oak Hotel, San Luis Obispo
- Get at least 6 hours of sleep. X
- Drive our car all the way to the top of Gibraltar, in spite of all the naysayers and false prophets who said it couldn’t be done. ✓
- Grab more than one interview in front of a couple different porta-johns. ✓
- Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step 4:36:59
- Peter Stetina, Trek-Segafredo +0:00:15
- George Bennett, Team LottoNl-Jumbo +0:00:25
Stage 3 has been 11 years in the making and is the day every general classification rider will have circled on their calendar. The challenging Queen Stage will begin in Thousand Oaks, home to biotechnology company Amgen, the race’s title sponsor since its inception. This area is a popular training ground for professional and weekend cyclists alike. Riders will leave Thousand Oaks and quickly descend to the cool breeze of the Pacific Coast Highway.
After traversing the flat strawberry fields of Oxnard and Ventura, the peloton will roll through the undulating terrain of Lake Casitas, Carpinteria and Montecito.
With approximately 6 miles to go, the profile will turn upward on Gibraltar Road, a beautiful twisting mountain road with an 8% average grade. Fans and teams have long requested a finish here, and road conditions have finally made it possible this year. With each turn toward what is sure to be an epic finish, the peloton will experience magnificent views of Santa Barbara and the beach below.
The course started at Amgen’s headquarters. It’s an office strip mall. So it was impressive, awe inspiring, enviable, dazzling, all that stuff. But the racers weren’t here to admire this taupe cinder block health casino. Nope, they were here to RACE. And today’s race was all about the climb up to Gibraltar. Sure there was other stuff, a couple of lesser climbs and a few sprints to keep the pace up, but the real deal was this climb. It really is beautiful. Overlooking the mighty Pacific. THE MIGHTY PACIFIC. It winds its way up the side of a mountain, so we’re talking an ocean and a mountain, essentially man’s two most formidable nemesis in one day? You bet. Anyway, the riders flew up this thing. It’s a rattler strewn out on a hot summer’s day, it’s a confusion of angles and inclines, it’s a treadmill of pain.
Amgen has a first-class incinerator on premises, and with race kicking off at their HQ in Thousand Oaks they were keen to show it off. That baby can really pump.
Today was not a stage for the sprinters.
The Santa Barbara fans love, LOVE, to stand around in socks. Socks on the road, socks in the dirt, socks on rocks. This makes me a little sick, like a little nauseous, the bottoms of these socks blackened, and then what? Are you just going to put them back in your shoes like that? Disgusting.
Despite the blackened sock thing, Santa Barbara, overall you are way above average on the tan/fit/attractive scale. If I am being honest the few mongoloids and dweebs you had peppered in only served to highlight your exceptional appearance.
Don’t ever trust your shoes. I’ve had a pair of Clarks Desert Boots for the past eight months. I really like them and I’ve been wearing them almost everyday since I bought them. I thought we had built something, something true, something real. Well, turns out that was all a sham. Today after eight months of comfortable, carefree use, my boots turned on me, revealed their true identity, and know I sit before you writing as a broken man, a man with a quarter-sized blister weeping on the inside of my right heel. I believed we had something boots, and I thought you did too.
We started the day with a nifty little visit to Starbucks. We’re talking coffee and juice, we’re talking Surgeon General reco’s here. Later we stopped at another Starbucks where we had more coffee. From there it was a couple hours on the road. Daniel crunched carrots and slurped humus, Rebecca mowed through some rice crackers, and I stuffed pita chips into my mouth hole like a stoker on a steamship trying to outrun a Nazi U-boat. Later, high up on the side of Gibraltar we all once again bent our collective knee at coffee’s ebony alter—Tosh, thanks for the brew, brü. We were going to run out of gas so we slipped down to Santa Barbara before heading up to San Luis Obispo, and after a couple cups of Starbucks high test, we were ready for the drive. Finally, we arrived at San Luis Obispos’ Thai Palace. Turns out in some parts of the world ‘palace’ means having a floorplan based on someone’s napkin sketch of a Sizzler. Despite having to constantly fight off the desire to get up from the table and refill my plate with at least four types of shrimp from an all-you-can-eat Surf & Turf hot bar (Scampi anyone? …Anyone?), the Thai food was totally fine. Then it was nineish and we still had all this work to do.
Turns out yesterday’s fog was just regular fog, not Leprosy fog, in fact experts tell us that Leprosy fog doesn’t exist. Do we believe them? I mean it was the experts that said America couldn’t put a man on the moon, and it was the experts that said the world wanted a jelly bean that tasted like popcorn. Granted there are no reports of fingers, toes, or noses falling off after being hit by that fog, but could it also be that this was a Latent Leprosy Fog? Who’s to say?
I MFS SPEED CENTER STAGE 03 TRAILER
II Race Report
It’s 2:45 in the morning and I’m so tired I’m going insane, so I will have to keep this short. Because, like I said, I’m going insane already and I don’t want to make it worse. It’s hard enough to talk with my outloud mouth words to the other people in this room let alone create electronic paper words with my hands. These transfers are dix, we had to drive to San Luis Obispo and so we didn’t start working on today’s post until like 9:30. I’m sad we’re leaving Southern California for Sacramento Valley California; nothing against the Sacramento Valley, I’ve had some of the best tacos of my life in the Sacramento Valley, it’s just that it’s ugly and hot and the air quality is dumb, which are enough in their own right, but it’s exacerbated by the fact that Los Angeles and the surrounding mountains and oceans and Cuban food places called Versailles are sooo excellent. Anyhoo, today’s theme is super positive, like almost too positive, and coming on the heels of yesterday’s borderline unseemly degree of positivity about BEN KING I wanted to kick this off with some polarizing comments about the residents of Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia, Lodi, Modesto, etc.
If you’re a reader and consumer of Manual for Speed (or in other words if Manual for Speed is in your personal Fan Club), and you read these Race Reports, then you may (understandably) be confused about how much we actually like the institution of Professional Bike Racing. We complain a lot. About lots of stuff. Honestly sometimes I don’t even know how much I actually like the institution of Professional Bike Racing. I’m confused. And it changes. It’s definitely variable. But listen, I don’t think we have the time, and I know I don’t have the energy, to properly unpack this together so that’s not gonna happen, but what I can offer, what we can do here and now is talk about the Big Feelings I had today. I think it’s relevant to this conversation. I think the easiest way to communicate the significance of my Big Feelings is for me to just list out all the things that happened in the moments before my Big Feelings arrived. I think they will provide context and insight. Fingers crossed, here goes:
- On the way up Gibraltar (in a car) we passed and subsequently talked with Simon Mottram, the owner/creator of Rapha. He was riding his bike.
- We also passed Kelli Samuelson. She manages LA SWEAT. And races on the team. She was riding her bike.
- The fog parted. The Ocean below appeared. The sun came out. The road climbed. There were switchbacks, and points and promontories and rock walls and a stunning array of uniquely Californian vegetation.
- We saw Rapha Tim, Tim Johnson and CJ. Kyle, who went to college in Santa Barbara, ran into several friends he hasn’t seen or spoken with for years.
- But most of the people we passed were strangers. Friendly, enthusiastic, excited strangers.
- All riding their bikes up the mountain.
- To wait and watch professional athletes do something which is similar to riding, but which is ultimately much bigger and larger-than-life, so much so that just watching it, whatever it is, just being in the presence of it, is transformative and exhilarating.
- We parked, we walked, we bought coffees, we clowned.
- We got recognized as Manual for Speed A LOT. Maybe more than ever. And people said nice things. Positive things. Things like, “We love Manual for Speed.”
- We photographed, we videoed, we chatted, we met, we waited, we waited some more, I got sunburned as fuck and ran out of water, the race came.
- The front was fast and hard.
- The middle was steady and unrelenting.
- The end eventually came bearing laughter, smiles, high-fives, slingshots, peace fingers, etc.
- And. In spite of my deep deep deep disdain for unbridled enthusiasm, the vibe was such, the energy was such, I succumbed—on the inside!!!!!!!!, only on the inside!!!!!!!!!—to it.
And that’s it, that’s when I started to have my Big Feelings. About how cycling is a community based around the love of riding up a big-ass World Class mountain on a steep and twisty road even though or maybe because it hurts, and it’s sweaty, and you pant, and breathe too much, and it hurts, with friends, against friends, to get to the top, to stop, to wait and watch the greatest Spectacle on Earth come past. And Manual for Speed plays what would appear to be a very welcomed and widely lauded part in that. So yeah, I got pretty fucking emotional today. I mean, really, this whole big story that’s wasting your time and making me even more insane, hopefully not permanently (it’s now 3:52am), it just a long circuitous way of saying this:
Dear fans of Manual for Speed, and just plain old fans of Road Cycling even if you have no idea what Manual for Speed is, Thank You. Thank you for being a part of the Greatest Spectacle on Earth. It wouldn’t be the same without you. I hate clubs but I’ll be in your stupid club I guess. Because dude, did you see Peter charging up the mountain? And faaaaaaauck, Lachlan was in second when he came past, he looked blasted, but but but but but but he was in second! And that dude Gregory Daniels on Axeon got a jersey, he’s cool, I think his jersey is blue.
III Mormon Josh Real-Time Texting While Reading MFS ATOK Stage 02
“I loved your description of what it felt like when Ben won. I remember how freaking Alive Libby hill was at worlds every time Ben would come up the hill, most of the time in the leading group. The place was nuts. And really the only other person who could win to make a loud crowd even louder was when Sagan won. It was anarchy of emotion. A man could have kissed a dog or a light post in exuberance and no one would have judged him negatively at that moment.”There was nowhere for our emotion to go but into the huge cauldron of elation that we were all drowning in as a collection of ecstatic idiots. It was LIT AF.”- Mormon Josh
Kit made by Castelli is an Unfair Advantage, that’s what. And lucky for you, our new Surprise Me! Kit, designed by Yoko Honda (of LA Sweat fame—her design for last year’s LA Sweat kit is in fact so famous it showed up on Gibraltar during Stage 03 of the ATOK, see below), is manufactured by Castelli. Click HERE to find out more, or click the little button below to purchase your Surprise Me! Kit now.
IV Today's Highs & Lows
- Learning that Lachlan Morton prefers Rihanna over Beyoncé.
- Starbucks stop number four, after we are forced to drive back to Santa Barbara to get gas.
- Parking at the top of the climb, instead of at the bottom and walking up.
- The magnificent golden shower of light that bathed us as we drove into San Luis Obispo.
- Not getting six hours of sleep.
- Kinda watching the latest Fantastic Four movie. Not the kinda part, the movie part.
- Driving down from Gibraltar to get gas.
- Arguing about video edits at 1:46am.
Stage 03 Most Animal Competition An MFS Pilot Program for a New Classifcation
Manual for Speed has been commissioned to introduce a new race classification category called “Most Animal.” Points for the classification will be awarded on the basis of style, swagger, and grit. We’ve assembled an elite group of expert analysts who will be assessing and assigning points for performance. The most animal jersey for ATOK will be awarded at the end of the race.
NEILSON POWELESS: 7 pts
Neilson may be the youngest rider in the race. But he gets high ratings from us! He rode like a wily old mountain goat, scampering up the mountain with the hooved verve of an unhinged ungulate. He would eventually end up fifth.
JULIAN ALAPHILIPPE: 6 pts
Dude waited and waited, and then attacked like an assassin. Also, he just recovered from mono… which I didn’t know anyone other than teenagers got. Basically he’s the King of California Queens, having taken the win in last years Queen stage up Mt. Baldy.
INFLATABLE COOKIES: 2 pts
Some people love cookies, and some people think they’re like too sweet over baked cakes. But there is no denying that an inflatable cookie has a certain something going, if only just to entice those in the first camp and aggravate those in the second.
Standings After Stage 03
- Ben King: 9 points
- Neilson Powless: 7 points
- Wouter Wippert: 7 points
- Julian Alaphilippe: 6 points
- Vasil Kiriyenka: 5 points
- Oscar Clark: 4 points
- Cannondale Team Car: 3 points
- Inflatable Cookies: 2 points
VI Stage 03 Playlist
Bonus Listening Notes
- Chris Brown – “Back to Sleep”: This song is really really creepy
- Travis Scott – “Antidote”: Pretty sure this song is about smoking weed/having sex in an apartment and not opening the windows
- Rihanna feat. Drake – “Work”: Basically this generation’s “Working 9-5.” If working 9-5 was about hedonism and questionable decisions.
- Ty Dolla $ign feat. E-40 – “Saved”: It came on after Work, and even if it was really really good it would have seemed bad so we added it to the list of pity.
- Tory Lanez – “Say It”: Balance is tough to find. This song is about a search for equilibrium.
- Belly feat. The Weeknd – “Might Not”: Belly has had a hard day that he turns around by getting fucked up, but he’s worried that he might have gotten too fucked up, so in the moment he put’s together a song about how he’s worried about his health.
- Omarion feat. Chris Brown & Jhene Aiko – “Post to Be”: Do you believe in fatalism? The idea that everything is predetermined, that their are no choices to make, that fate is inescapably set. Omario and friend’s concede to this notion. Especially when fate determines that you have to eat the booty like groceries.
- DJ Kahled feat. Drake, Rick Ross, & Lil Wayne – “I’m On One”: Hey if the only things you care about are money and the city that you’re from, I don’t doubt that you’re life might feel a little empty and that this could lead you to excessive drinking, however that doesn’t mean that your music would be bad.
- 1 Mike Posner I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Seeb Remix)
- 2 Fat Hoe & Remy feat. French Montana & Infared All the Way Up
- 3 Lupe Fiasco feat. Trey Songz Out of My Head
- 4 Desiigner Panda
- 5 Fetty Wap Again
- 6 Rich Homie Quan Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)
- 7 Justin Bieber Sorry
- 8 DJ Bando Might Not
- 9 G-Eazy & Bebe Rexha Me, Myself & I
- 10 DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels Nobody Speak