2017 Tour de California: Stage 04
Wednesday May 17, 2017 | Santa Barbara
Let met tell you something about a five-hour motorcycle ride through the Santa Ynez mountains when it’s sunny and warm-almost-hot: if you don’t apply sunscreen you will get sunburned BIG TIME.
My phone says 18,216 steps or 9.9 miles but that can’t be right. I mean, did walk around at the start. And Kyle and I did go shopping at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall in Santa Clarita, but still, we didn’t walk that much, so yeah, it has to be wrong. But it’s never wrong. Not sure what to tell you. Bottomline, today was an lite-to-average walking day.
The Howard Johnson on Colorado Avenue in Pasadena, the one shaped like Sir Lancelot’s castle (kinda): Adjacent to the parking lot there is a smoking and non-smoking veranda side by each. It’s tall like a wall. The carpet in the rooms looks like art deco stained glass. Kyle has a work station. I have a mirror on the back of the closet door facing my bed which is cool for checking out how well my new Nike Monarchs go with our Speed Center issue tracksuits. We’re on the fourth floor in room 411, which reminds me, the bathroom code for the Starbucks a block and half down to the east is 31472.
- Wake up at six, get a coffee, get kitted, ride up Gibraltar and back with my friend CJ who I met at the start of this race two years ago. We hanged out with Lachlan who talked about trying to find coffee near the start and why he modified the sleeves on his jacket. That shared conversation, and skateboarding, is why became friends. And now two years later we rode up Gibraltar on THE MOST BEAUTIFUL and perfect morning ever. EVER. THANK YOU SO MUCH CJ!!!!!!!!!
- Shoot the race from the back of a motorcycle. And the side of the road.
- Purchase two pairs of white Nike Monarchs.
- Go to sleep early, LOL LOL LOL.
- Watch at least one of the “Matrix” films on the TV. Thank you AMC. Thank you Neo. Thank you hope.
- Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling, 3:41:52
- Rob Britton (Can) Rally Cycling, s/t
- Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Sunweb, s/t
With warm breezes coming off the beach across from the start line, it will be just as difficult to leave Santa Barbara as it was in 2015 when the riders took the same route into Santa Clarita. Winding through Montecito and Carpinteria, the riders will be getting their legs ready for two short but steep KOMs as they approach Lake Casitas. A fast descent down Hwy 150 will take them alongside the lake and into Ojai. Following another KOM up Dennison Grade, the race will return to the picturesque town of Santa Paula, where the base of Balcom Canyon looms just a few miles away.
For many local riders, Balcom Canyon is just too steep and imposing a climb to even attempt. Walking up the top section is the only option for many. This is a unique climb where the riders can easily see the KOM from the start. A popular place to watch the race come by, slowly, crowd estimates have been as high as 5,000 fans in past editions.
Following a “white-knuckle” descent of Grimes Canyon, riders will head through the orange groves near the small town of Piru, and the race will begin its 13-mile eastward push on Hwy 126 toward Santa Clarita. A prevailing tailwind will help keep the race together, and the crowd waiting in Santa Clarita should see another massive field sprint. This stage comes in at more than 100 miles with two sprints, four KOMs and 7,700 feet of climbing. Host Cities for the eighth and ninth time respectively, Santa Barbara and Santa Clarita are home to some of the state’s most avid cycling communities.
If this is what it looks like here in May after record-breaking winter rainfall, what the fuck does it look like here in August on a bad year? I was on a moto today so I can tell you this this course was basically very boring and uninspired. I remember roads and orchards and farm country. The only exceptional and exciting part of the course was the climb up Balcom Canyon Road. It’s STEEP as fuck, the light was great, and there was decent crowd near the top and on the summit.
There is a fairly large contingent of homeless/transient/non-structured lifestyle people in Santa Barbara—maybe all central coast towns; we observed the same behavior in San Luis Obispo—who yell at pay phones, start fights with random paper cups left on a curb and argue with the sky. And, if you’re wearing blue track suits, accuse you of being part of the illuminati and threaten to kill you because you’re not running the world good.
I didn’t want to have to do this, but I am running shy on Observations. So, Lady Who Works at the Footlocker in the Westfield Mall: You need an attitude adjustment. Lets run through the scenario. The store was completely, 100% open and two lads, happy lads, entertaining lads, saunter into your shop. Are we asking about the Nike Monarch IV, the shoe that happens to be one of Nike’s top-selling shoes (if not the top-seller)? Yes we are, but what do we get from you? We get attitude, we get told snobbily that our best bet would be to find them in Topanga or maybe Long Beach. Seriously. You’re going to seriously suggest we drive an hour to Long Beach for Nike Monarch IVs? I mean we would, we wanted them that bad, but you know what? We’re resourceful so we went to the Macy’s at the other end of the mall and picked up a couple pairs, and I got to tell you, bullshit lady, they’re beautiful.
After my ride we went to the Whole Foods on State street at the top of Santa Barbara. I got some eggs and bacon and one sausage. The bacon and that one sausage were great. But the eggs tasted gross so I didn’t eat them, they also smelled weird. So anyway I just closed the container and shoved it under the passenger seat because that made sense to me at the time. Then I got on a motorcycle and said goodbye to our car for the next five hours.
When I got into the car after not witnessing the start of the race, I thought I had stepped in something. I literally thought I had shit on my shoes. Dog shit. Our car smelled like dog shit. Or maybe like someone had hidden a used diaper in the car. Perhaps, even, a diaper that had been used twice, like because there wasn’t a replacement diaper the parents just strapped the kid into the whole setup again. Then, after the kid—or maybe it was the geriatric relative—doubled down, they pulled the diapers off and stored them in our car. It was only after some serious investigation I was happy to discover that it was simply Daniel’s egg carton, the one that he’d secreted away, that was causing the gut turning odor. Let’s just say I left it for dead somewhere in Carpinteria.