shaved legs. And as far as I could tell, all of the racers had shaved legs. In order to get this information as accurately as possible I applied for Press credentials, through the sponsor of the Tour, to cover the start of the event for Roadcycling.com. This resulted in a large plastic card with my name on it, to wear around my neck, which got me into the backstage area of the starts, in San Francisco on Feb 19 th and in
Sausalito on Feb 20 th.
Backstage is where the bikes were weighed, the riders were identified and signed in, and the judges got the individual riders off on the individual time trial of 1.9 miles in
San Francisco . There were 128 riders at the Prologue, an intense race down the Embarcadero and a brutal climb up one of the steepest hills in San Francisco , to
Tower. With the Press pass, I got pretty close to most of the racers, and saw no hairy legs. Some may have slipped under my radar, as I was also busy taking pictures and looking at girls, but I doubt it.
The hullabaloo at the Prologue in
San Francisco made it clear that this was a serious race indeed, with clear expectation that a Tour of California will now be an annual event, with big names, big crowds, big coverage, and big bucks. There were two announcer guys, on a stage just to the side of the start, and they were definitely pros. Unfortunately to my ear, they were probably pros who normally announced for WWF, as in pro wrestling. It may be that the same style of announcing is done at the Tour de France, but it just sounds more elegant in French. There were plenty of other guys with Press passes around their necks, many of them with big cameras with long lenses, some with TV cameras and sound crews, and best of all there were guys on motorcycles with another guy right behind holding TV cameras, who rode right along with the racers. The course was lined from Start to Finish with appreciative and loud fans, just as it would be at any of the venues in
Northern Californian Levi Leipheimer cranked out the best time in the Prologue, which put him in the leader?s jersey for the next day?s run to his home town of
Santa Rosa . This is always good to draw out the spectators. The start for that next day was in Sausalito, probably California?s most picturesque town, on the kind of blue sky day that only
California can provide in February. Again the crowd was large, appreciative, and bike savvy. Lots of bike shorts and not many hairy legs. The really serious cyclists were of course not in Sausalito itself, but scattered all along the roads that sweep up the sides of Mt Tamalpais, out to the Pacific Ocean beaches, and back over the hills to
Santa Rosa .