POWERFUL PEDALS: Spectators who like to take in major bike races are probably of three ilks, though there is some line-crossing within the ilk categories, we imagine. Ilk #1? Those people who like to be in a city where a bike race is running, so they can enjoy some of the city's amenities, and a possible expo or concert, too, that may be related to the tour. Ilk #2? Those people who follow the riders, either as a volunteer or just a fan that wants to take in a few stages of the event. And Ilk #3? The person who desires an emptier stretch of highway from which to observe the quick whizz-by, a place where they are free from jostling crowds and other city noise. The Amgen Tour of California, which is billed as "America's Greatest Race," sees spectators from all three ilks, and probably a few more beyond this trio. It's highly spectated, both in the urban areas it visits and along the country highways, too. The only thing for you to do, bike buff? Pick what stage you want to see.
STAGES ONE THROUGH EIGHT: Stage One lifts the kickstand in Escondido on Sunday, May 12. Palm Springs and Santa Clarita follow the next two days, and then the mega sports spectacular marches, or more accurately spins, north. Stage 5 is sure to have some stunning spots to watch, given that the riders are rolling between Santa Barbara and Avila Beach. San Francisco is the biggest city on this year's tour, and it is the city at the final stage leaves from, on Sunday, May 19. Bet there'll be fans who follow the whole way, but you can get a slice of the excitement pretty much anywhere. Starts and finishes will have more extra action, of course, but there is something nice about seeing top athletes zip by in the middle of practically nowhere, too.