Tour of California- Stage 4 GU Crew Recap

I should have know that starting the day racing to catch the Bart was just the beginning of a long but fun day. The plan was for the GU Crew to leave work around 10:30am, catch the 10:45am Bart and start riding shortly after 11:45am. The race was suppose to finish around 3:15pm so that gave us plenty of time to make the 30 mile journey from West Dublin to the top of Sierra Road.

The day began with my coworker and I have time trial it through the streets of Berkeley trying not to miss the train EVERYONE else was on. After running a few red lights, my fastest ever Bart ticket purchase (I only have 3 in the books, so not a whole lot of competition) and running down an escalator in cycling shoes, we walked up just as the train was pulling in. I am guessing we had about a minute to spare...just like we planned it.

The GU Crew
The ride started out awesome, we were cruising through the streets of Dublin looking like we should have been in the race. There was pulling, there was drafting…we pretty much had our own little pelaton heading to the finish.

Totally should have entered the race...
I haven’t really been on a big group ride since I left home so it was nice to be able to chit chat with everyone and just get out of the office and on the bike. The roads were absolutely beautiful and really reminded me of the scenery back home. Sure do miss all that.

Still Smiling...probably haven't started climbing the "Real" stuff yet!
The fun began when we started climbing up the backside of Sierra Road. It wasn't the Cat 1 the pros were heading up a few hours later but I was told that it could have been classified as Cat 2. So pretty much…I NEVER WANNA RIDE A CAT 1!!!

I was sweating so much, I could barely hold on to my handlebars, the sunscreen that was on my face was dripping into my eyes which was burning and made it almost impossible to see plus I had no idea where the top actually was. All I wanted to do was just stop, get off and start walking. But walk...with a tri bike...around all these cyclists...NEVER!!! I was going to keep peddling until either my legs fell off or I started rolling backwards. I am happy to report neither actually happened but I am pretty sure, it was only a matter of time.

San Jose in the distance.
Just like all the rides around Berkeley that produce many amazing views, this ride did not disappoint. Our ride took us just east of San Jose and with all the climbing made for some beautiful shots of the valley below.

Have you tried the new GU?
The "Work" reason we went to this ride was to hand out samples of the new Chocolate Raspberry Roctane released last week. We each carried about 8 lbs of GU gel up the mountain to give to all the spectators who made the trek. I was glad to see so many people, because there was NO WAY I was carrying that back down.

Bike Rack / Barbed-Wire Fence
A view from above the finish line.
We did actually make it to the race start. It is quite the production they set up in the middle of absolute nowhere. There were huge tents, mobile media trucks, fencing and people everywhere. I was surprised how many people made the actual climb up to the finish…many who rode the west side (Cat 1). It was very cool to see them  cheering and support all the riders and teams. It makes me wonder how absolutely insane the Tour de France is...

Chris Horner- The Stage 4 and eventually race winner.
Andy Schleck (left) and Levi Leipheimer (right)
Jens Voigt
One final climb to the line.
I was also surprised by how quickly the riders would head right back down the mountain. A few would throw on a jacket or some arm warmers, a can of pop and just turned around and headed back down as the race was still going on. It’s probably not that uncommon at a stage race like this, but just something new to me.

And back down the mountain they go.
Levi Leipheimer
The Pelaton reaches the top.
The ride back down for us was much less uneventful. Everyone knew exactly what lied ahead and everyone (or maybe just me) wanted to get back as my legs were feeling it. With over 3:30 on the bike and what I was told over 4,500 ft of climbing, I was going to sleep REEEEAL good.

All in all, I can’t think of a better day at the office. Pretty cool to be able to get out of work, jump on the bike and see the finish of the largest stage races in the US.