Eric Smith, Amgen Tour of California's Course Director, eased my naive worries about the condition of the Mt. Hamilton descent. The organizers and Caltrans are on top of the situation and will be sweeping the road and cold patching any bad spots in the days leading up to Stage 3. Good news for riders, spectators and the local community who use the road to get to their homes and jobs year round.
To have some appreciation for the complexities involved in staging this kind of road race, it's worth reading the commentary and concerns expressed by residents at the Eastern Santa Clara County Rural Roads (ESCCRR) site. Unfortunately, this is another example of the kind of polarization that divides this country on issues big and small. Accommodation and compromise are rare commodities, facts are garbled and warped in the cause of whatever viewpoint is being promoted and generosity is sorely lacking.
The fuss boils down to many of the shared-use arguments that surface whenever cars and bicycles attempt to coexist. Even as the planet's irrefutable climatic woes warn us that things have to change, no one really wants to give an inch. In the immediate aftermath of Scottish Cyclist, Jason McIntyre's tragic death, the same pointless arguments ensued. I'm dismayed.
The misguided and misinformed contend cyclists don't pay taxes, if only it were so, and never drive cars of their own, buy gasoline, pay insurance etc. Cyclists who are keenly aware of the terrible disadvantage they face when car meets bicycle, retaliate when group riding by putting drivers on the defensive for a mile or two. It doesn't have to be like this.
The natural beauty of remote places like Mines Road and Mt. Hamilton should be common ground where everyone who wants a little peace and separation from urban life can coexist. Residents give up many conveniences out there, have to take care of themselves and each other. Going the long way round, when right of left means 70 miles is just as meaningful to a cyclist whose legs are the only means of getting there and back.
All of us, regardless of the width of our tires, just want to enjoy life and get home safely. One way or another it will all end much too soon, just like a good bike ride.