Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The 2015 Amgen Tour of California

The lead break away approached Auburn.
The 2015 edition of the Amgen Tour of California brushed by the eastern edge of Auburn yesterday, so I decided to ride up and watch the racers fly by.

Riding up towards Bowman school, I was beginning to fret that I left too late and would miss the peloton, getting a flat on the way didn't help. But I found a good spot just past Bowman school and waited with a handful of other enthusiasts for the race to approach, turns out I had plenty of time to change out my inner tube while waiting.

The lead breakaway reached us at just about 12:15, having started in Nevada City at 11:00. An hour and 15 minutes to cover a stretch that has taken me at least twice that time! 

They were moving at a smart pace at this point.
This stage would eventually end in Lodi, 120 miles in 4 hours and 47 minutes with Cavendish winning in a group sprint. In reading about the stage in the Bee, there was mention that the only
climb of the day was on Highway 49, going up to Cool from the American River confluence. It also said that that climb was a mere category 4, the least difficult! That's a little ego-deflating! What an  hors categorie climb is like I can only imagine!

The support vehicles were following.

...and bringing up the rear.
I got a surprise as I was snapping pictures of the peloton zipping by. I heard something plop into the weeds next to me as the riders as the riders passed. I looked over and found a half empty water bottle lying there! Nice. Then as I was riding away to go home, I found a second one on the shoulder! Both discarded by the riders as they received replacement bottles on this quiet, flat stretch of road! So I got a couple of nice souvenirs from the Amgen this year!

My big score for the day!
Although I'm no racer, it's always nice to have the race come by, just to see the excitement for cycling it generates, This year, for example, leading up to the opening day there was a page-one article in the Sacramento Bee about the tire sizes the pros are using this year! Now that's something I never would have thought would happen!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Jobst Brandt, RIP

Jobst Brandt on the Gavia.
Jobst Brandt died recently after a long period of convalescence from a bicycle crash he never recovered from. For many years he had taken epic summer bicycle trips through the Alps and had documented them with wonderful narratives and photos. You might have noticed the picture on the heading of this blog, it was of him on one of his Alpine adventures.

Not much I can add to what has already been posted about the man, I didn't know him personally, but he was a strong influence on my take on cycling. J. Brandt was not a racer nor a randonneur or a bike-packer, but he was an incredibly strong and talented rider who rode his bike anywhere he wanted to!

I have emulated some of his travels with my modest tours in the Sierra, and dream someday of the Stelvio and Gavia passes in the Alps.

Jobst Brandt was an engineer and had brilliant insights into bicycle technology. He became a voice of common sense in that strange world where marketing holds precedence over engineering. He had strong opinions on the technical aspects of bikes and I agreed with a lot of what he said. (Although I didn't share his antipathy for leather saddles and fenders!).

I own a copy of his book "The Bicycle Wheel", it contains the best method of wheel building I've come across, and I refer to it whenever I have to build a new wheel.

A link to some of Brandt's writings.

I'm grateful for his influence and that he shared his views for us to learn from.

So long Jobst Brandt, RIP.

Stelvio Pass, Italy