2016 TOC – Stage 4 Start

As many of you are aware, I packed up and moved out west last fall. Check out my North Shore farewell “tour” >>

 

Living in California offers great year-round training – with hills and with very little weather. And sometimes there’s a necessary mid-ride stop at a local winery:

 

Joy Sherrick Higher Gear California winery

 

Yes, living in the Golden State is pretty awesome. As if we needed anything to sweeten the deal, here we’re treated to the largest cycling event in North America. While watching the coverage of this year’s Tour of California (TOC), I kept looking past the riders at the scenery and thinking, “Holy cow! I live here!”

This year’s TOC route took riders on a south-to-north route. The fourth day of the tour began in a seaside town called Morro Bay, easily recognizable by the iconic Morro Rock (which is one of seven volcanic plugs in the area). During the mornings here, the marine layer can hide the rock and the surrounding ocean. On the day of the Tour start here, it did just that. The fog only burned off long after the riders were on their way up the Pacific Highway.

 

Amgen Tour of California CA TOC 2016 Morro Rock Stage 4 Joy Aaron Sherrick

(Yep, there’s a BIG rock – and an ocean – somewhere there behind me.)

 

Morro Bay happens to be near where we live. Naturally, my husband and I had to venture out to see some of the biggest names in cycling practically in our backyard!

Amgen Tour of California CA TOC 2016 Joy Aaron SherrickWe had no idea what to expect. We thought that, surely, the staging area would be cordoned off from us, the masses, trying to get a peek at pros in the middle of a tour. We arrived early and were surprised to find ourselves in an empty parking lot and even more surprised as the official cars, team buses and team cars started rolling in – and we were right in the middle of it all! We even witnessed the “broom wagon” getting prepped for the day!

We ran around from bus to bus, giggling like kids. We could see the pros inside having their final team talks for the morning, getting their jerseys on and psyching themselves up for what could have been one of the most grueling days of the tour (had the winds not obliged them the way they did by not picking up in the afternoon). By far the most buzz surrounded the Tinkoff bus,* with crowds chomping at the bit for a chance to see Peter Sagan in the flesh.

 

Amgen Tour of California CA TOC 2016 Morro Rock Stage 4 Joy Aaron Sherrick Peter Saga Tinkoff

(Sagan had, by far, the most fans hoping for a glimpse – or an autograph.)

 

* Fun fact: Tinkoff, like many of the team buses, had their own espresso maker on board. After watching their activity surrounding their bus that morning, however, I’d guess that Sagan and his team aren’t fueled by coffee, but rather by vast amounts of Fanta! The Fanta certainly worked for Sagan, as he went on to win that day.

 

Slowly, riders began emerging from their respective team buses. Each, in turn, would go check in and sign the board for the day. Here is Cavendish, whose team is riding for World Bicycle Relief, adding his name to the board:

 

Amgen Tour of California CA TOC 2016 Mark Cavendish Stage 4 Joy Aaron Sherrick

 

Most of the riders would head back to the shelter of their team buses, but eventually they all headed into the staging area where their day’s journey would begin.

My husband and I caught the rest of the day’s race and its finish on the famous Laguna Seca Raceway on television, just like the rest of the world did. But, for a few hours, we were there, trapped inside the fog with the same professional cyclists we’ll be watching trek across France or battle down in Rio in a few short months.

 

Amgen Tour of California CA TOC 2016 Morro Rock Stage 4 Joy Aaron Sherrick

(If you look closely, you can see the tops of the white Tour tents in the distance, to the right of Morro Rock.)

 

 

If we’re really lucky, the TOC will make another trip through San Luis Obispo County next year. And, well, if it doesn’t, there’s plenty of wine here to enjoy while we watch the action on TV.

 

 

Photos from the morning:

(Click on any photo to open the gallery and scroll through the images or watch as a slideshow.)

 

Video of the start:

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

If you prefer a closer look at the start:

(Click on any photo to open the gallery and scroll through the images or watch as a slideshow.)

 

 

Special thanks to my husband, Aaron Sherrick, who hauled around his real camera so that we could share these scenes with you.

 

 

 

Joy Aaron Sherrick Higher Gear Wattie Ink

 

Joy Sherrick is Higher Gear’s resident fitness guru, a 3x Boston qualifier and a cycling enthusiast. Out on the bike, Joy is most likely drafting off her IronMan husband.

 

 

 

 

 

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