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March, 2006


'Da Big Bomb Bicycle Tour
By Don Deane

ROAD CLOSED from 11:00 am to 2:00 p.m. BICYCLE RACE! the sign said just outside Bolinas on Highway One. There were signs up and down the coast road on Feb. 20 preparing motorists for delays because of the momentous event-the first Tour of California bicycle race. One prognosticator suggested 30,000 spectators would witness the day's event.
On Feb. 19 headlines in the Marin Independent Journal announced that Sausalito expected an "economic lift" from visitors attracted by the race and TV exposure about the tour. The Chamber of Commerce planned to pay in the neighborhood of $130,000 to co-host several race-related festivities.

Sixteen cycling teams would take off from the Spinnaker Restaurant, shoot through West Marin, with a pit stop in Pt. Reyes Station, and rocket 700 miles to Redondo Beach for the finish.

My young charge Spencer and I headed out to Highway One from downtown Bolinas fully prepared to be overwhelmed with the race's celebrants and expecting to park well back from Highway One's ribbon of asphalt stretching from Tam Valley to all points along the northern coast.

But we scooted out onto Highway One and slipped into a parking spot facing south. No sweat. There was plenty of room right off the road and two or three knots of expectant onlookers were there waiting. Women and young girls were enthusiastically writing chalk messages on the asphalt to members of the race they knew, or in a general demonstration of support and good will.

While standing there along the side of the road for thirty minutes a few "California Tour" cars whisked by, waving and honking. Then a few outlaw bicyclists flew by.

The "tour" must not be far behind.
Then came the motorcycles-at least a dozen maybe two dozen California Highway Patrol Hondas, red lights blazing and sirens screaming. One helicopter hovered overhead.

I knew it was getting close. More and more "tour cars" with bicycle brands or bike-wear logos emblazoned on their hoods and sides shot by, honking and waving. Holy smokes!

Sixty minutes had gone by and Spencer slumped down against a parked car as Highway Patrol cruisers and SUVs whizzed by with lights flashing.

Another thirty minutes.
Then... then someone screamed, "THERE'S THE PACE CAR! The yellow pace car!"

Spencer didn't get up.
"There it is!"
A yellow two-door "pace car" sped by with no bikes anywhere in sight. A couple more CHP cruisers appeared and vanished.

Then... a very slow moving cruiser with lights blinking hysterically and a pace car following behind appeared on the road's southern horizon. "IT'S THEM! HERE THEY COME!"

People started clapping, yelling and banging on noise-makers, straining into the road peering south. And then... WHOOSH! A small clump of bicycles in tight formation, riders hunched over, peddling furiously, appeared -and in an instant were GONE. Ten seconds, twenty seconds at most and they were gone. Gone!

A dozen tour cars followed along with CHP Command Cars 1 through 8, two ambulances, backed up traffic and that was it. Da BOMB!

"That was the dumbest thing I ever saw," said Spencer.

They were lining up to get sweets at the bakery in Pt. Reyes. Business was booming. The Tour of California was about to arrive!

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