By Phil Beckman/PB Creative
Cycling offers seating in the largest arena in the world. The interesting thing is you can mosh with the crowds at the start or finish, or you can find your own little slice of spectating heaven. Alone with your thoughts in the clouds. You can travel halfway around the world to get your fix, or if you’re very lucky, the show rolls through your back yard. I am one lucky bastard.
Long road races like this, the 6th stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, are tough to shoot unless you have a moto or VIP/Media credentials. Ha. I do not. But I do have local knowledge. This is Sylvain Georges of AG2R, who I have never heard of before, leading the race by several minutes with about 20 miles to go after scooting away from a five-man early breakaway. And the crowds go wild. The “real” photographers showed up just in time to mess up my carefully planned composition. “Hey, how’d you get up there,” one of them asked.
Here’s what remains of the early breakaway. This is a spaced-out sequence of pics taken from about 6,000 feet of elevation on Rim Of The World Highway (CA State 18) between my Lake Arrowhead home and the finish in Big Bear. That’s San Bernardino in the distance, through the haze. How romantic. Those puffy clouds from the first frame would not cooperate, and dissipated just in time for the Tour passage (so thrilled about that, after hanging out here for two hours). Money shot, not.
Hey, here comes the peloton, but dang, it seems kind of small. The Liquigas team out of Italy is driving it, in hopes of giving Peter Sagan an unbelievable fifth stage win of this race. But this stage, with 115 miles (that’s 186km for you furriners) of riding and a gazillion feet of climbing, does not suit his style (or so my lizard buddies and I thought). Especially since they’re behind by many minutes at this point. You can always tell when the race is getting close by the approach of that TV chopper. But they didn’t even get a clip of me waving like a loon.
Here’s the rest of the peloton, just hoping that the finish is around that corner. [Snicker]. I have ridden this route many times. There’s still A LOT of climbing to go — after unfathomably starting in Palmdale (I can’t even drive that far without taking a break). My excuse would be that I’m keeping my powder dry for the heinous Mt. Baldy stage the next day. The previous four photos were taken from that outcropping at the upper left. Sylvain Georges would end up winning by just 28 seconds ahead of Sagan the man.