Amgen ToC – Smiles and Silliness on Mt. Baldy

smiles Slate on his way up again

Cycling becomes a strange spectator sport when most of the crowd have ridden their bikes up a mountain. Yesterday's stage from Claremont to Mt. Baldy simultaneously demonstrated our devotion and short attention span re the great sport. On the good side, I was amazed at the effort everyone made on those super steep ramps to ride to the top. About a mile below the summit with a view of a two stretches of road I spent three hours bantering with the ascending peloton of fans. In spite of their suffering, everyone was quick with a smile (I'll have a big gallery of shots up on Zenfolio in a couple of days... you may be there); I loved that.

hi five

I didn't love the fact that the same crowd started down the mountain on bikes before the race had finished. Hundreds started the descent while there were still 40 riders coming up the mountain. Not only did this make for a very dangerous situation, but the fans missed half of the opportunity to watch the PROs. Had they been a little more patient they would have seen their favorite riders speeding down the mountain, instead of getting in their way.

Watching the pros descend, knee against top tube, is just a thrilling as watching them come up. I saw them all come down and predictably, stage winner Levi Leipheimer was last. Nobody else was paying any attention. I find that strange.

flag bearer leaders George pickled George descending Levi descending mountain last

8 Responses to Amgen ToC – Smiles and Silliness on Mt. Baldy

  1. Perry says:

    Great shots and story. Kind of crazy to go down during the race. Looking forward to you shots on Zenfolio.

  2. kurt says:

    Fabulous work,
    My wife was enamored by Chris horners indelible smile. “He’s the happiest cyclest I ever saw”,she giggled. The enthusiasm he conveyed during interviews about his team, the race, California and cycling was a credit to his character and reflected positively on the American cycling scene.I can’t tell you how happy I am for Chris.

    Levi showed his strong character and honor by riding full throttle to bring his teammate safetly to the top of Baldy.
    The Radio Shack team crushed the competition with teamwork and an incredible effort by each rider. The way they worked that mountain was like a slow motion setup for a sprinter.

    Looking forward to your collection.

  3. Todd says:

    Excellent images, yet again. I especially enjoy the one of Slate, because he appears to be enjoying his suffering.

    I’m excited to see more of the shots on the Zenfolio gallery (maybe we saw each other after all).

    I hope this was an awesome week for you. You worked hard and it shows in your photos. Hopefully you now have time for some well-deserved rest.

  4. Adam says:

    I was looking for you in Solvang, Baldy and Thousand Oaks. Looking for you to say thank you for inspiring me and for sharing your incredible images. I stumbled upon the site while looking for some tips on shooting cycling, I think. I don’t really remember exactly how, but I’ve spent a lot of time on it in the past couple of weeks. I made it to the turn just below where you were on Saturday. Just as well, I was so knackered I wouldn’t have made any sense if I had spotted you. So, thanks!

    The pros were ridiculous in their descending prowess. This was the first race I’d attended. I didn’t realize they’d be turning around right away to get down.

  5. The rush to be first out of the carpark is inevitable sadly, nothing new here, I can recall the idiots leaving their seats in the cinema years ago and spoiling the end of the movie for people they walked in front of to get out of the row.

    Mindless stupidity as far as I’m concerned and selfish disregard for others too, can’t see the point of going somewhere only to leave before the end. I usually want to stay longer and savour the occasion, not sit for longer in a queue of cars burning fuel in the crawl to the highway.

    Probably the same people who don’t ever give way or let somebody cross the road in front of their car. Enough of my rant Michael.

    Another great set of images as has been said showing the dedication and hard work that goes into taking more than snapshots. Detail, expression and the right angle, taking the best possible shot not just clicking away, with the hope that one will be good.

    Here’s to the next time.


  6. Jon Moss says:

    Wonderful shots once again :-)

    As to the people going downhill before the stage finished – astonishing stupidity and selfish to boot, not to mention downright dangerous. Very poor.

  7. Wander says:

    Hi Man,

    I love two things, cycling and photography, two very expensive … but my contact is to say that I’m your fan, I surf the net a long time ago and I can not see pictures as good as its nowhere CONGRATULATIONS!

    I study photography and also do very much, your photos are my references, thanks for posting them and ask permission to occasionally put them on my blog.

    Have a nice day


  8. slate says:

    Todd- at that point it was either smile or cry.

    We stayed with the Rapha tent on the last big switchback until nobody was left. Even Phil and Paul had left. It was pretty amazing to watch it all come down nearly as fast as it had been set up. Just for that day 500,000 watched and cheered one of the best days of cycling on US soil. Baldy and Sierra made me very happy to be a fan of the sport and Chris Horner in particular.

    It also made me happy to see Michael on that turn. Thanks for the shot.