Friday, May 15, 2015

Magic To The Rescue At The Amgen

Good thing for temporary orange fencing and a handy place called Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park in Santa Clarita.

Snow on Mount Baldy wiped out that time trial location for Friday's Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California and pro-active Tour Executive Director Kristin Klein swapped one mountain for another, switching race venues from Baldy to Magic Mountain off Interstate 5 about 35 miles north of Los Angeles.

The amusement park remained open for regular visitors as Six Flags and Amgen race workers made sure Magic Mountain customers and racers zipping along at more than 30 mph on time trial bicycles didn't intersect.

The out-and-back course for Stage 6 was short at 6.6 miles, plus much flatter and about half the distance of the Mt. Baldy time trial route.

It was a logistical challenge to switch race settings in 24 hours, as Klein had to acquire traffic control, transportation and CHP permits and the cooperation of Six Flags to pull of the venue swap.

On Thursday, the 118 men racers from 18 teams knew they were going to stay in Santa Clarita (where they finished on Thursday) for Friday's time trial. Peter Sagan won the time trial in 12 minutes and 31 seconds and also took over the overall lead from Toms Skujins.

Sagan flew on the course at 31.57 mph -- not too shabby.

After Thursday's rainy day in Santa Clarita, it was cloudy with patches of blue sky Friday -- so race fans came out to the bike festival that accompanies each stage.

I met a bike shop worker from San Luis Obispo -- Jim Dover, retail manager at Art's Cyclery -- who soaked up the bicycle energy and even knew Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas.I had arrived early enough to even get on the time trial course and zipped across the finish line. .

 It was fun to see the bicycle tents with the roller coasters as the backdrop.

The Amgen race finishes Sunday in Pasadena.

I also had the chance to check out a fantastic bicycle trail in Santa Clarita around the corner from my motel.

And, how cool is this? One of the time trial racers was zipping overhead on an overpass as I biked on the trail.

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