Fast Bikes: AMGEN Tour of California

San Diego, Morro Bay, Lodi, and more cities'll host the famous pedal party.

WHILE MANY CALIFORNIA CYCLISTS... are poring over maps, texting friends, and plotting summertime routes along backroads and through hidden valleys, few bike buffs are planning to cover huge swaths of the state in day-by-day stages at great speed on sections of roads closed to cars. That's where the AMGEN Tour of California comes in, each and every May, to bring some world-class, whirling pedals action to the cities, towns, and open spaces of the Golden State. If you haven't yet jetted to the continent to take in the Tour de France, or if you have and you didn't get nearly enough of the sleek 'n speedy athleticism, the AMGEN Tour of California delivers on this front, and how. "The teams chosen to participate have included Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and World Champions," reveals the race's online HQ, which means that if you plunk down along the route, look sharp: The participants will stream by you in seconds. And that's the adrenaline-pumping joy of it, truly. One minute you're on a quiet byway, staring at the clouds, and soon everyone lining the street is cheering madly. Ready to be one of the cheerers, and get inspired, perhaps, for your own summertime bike excursions? The 2016 dates are...

SUNDAY, MAY 15 THROUGH SUNDAY, MAY 22: The start city for the women is South Lake Tahoe on May 19 and the men will begin in San Diego on May 15. Both competitions will wend their way to the capital, so if you want to see a bit of each, make for Sacramento on the final weekend. Or find a quieter spot, an empty pass, if you want a chiller, commune-with-the-moment experience.

NOT SO QUIET, but always lively and brimming with good vibes is the Lifestyle Festival, which pops up at every finish line. And equally as thrilling, if you truly want to be in the center of the spokes-y spectacular? There are volunteer opportunities, so lend a hand if that's your jam. For all the stages, info, fest-y stuff, and towns along the 2016 tour, turn your handlebars in this direction.

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