May 13th- mark it on your Calendar- The biggest and baddest cycling event- first stage starts and ends in Santa Rosa (our backyard here at Farmhouse Inn).
The Amgen Tour of California (this is the seventh consecutive year for the race) has definitely put California on the world biking map. Here in Sonoma Wine Country there have always been the avid cyclers - you see them on all our backroads and bike trails every weekend but this event features elite professional teams and athletes from around the world. With the scenery of California as a backdrop this race from it's inception in 2006 is bound to soon rival the Tour de France.
The first day of the race starts and finishes in Santa Rosa, the city that helped establish the race and home to three time race champion Levi Leipheimer (our local hero). His GranFondo event in September is a well known charity event and is also known as "the greatest day out on two wheels". The GranFondo event in 2011 raised more than $250,000 to support various charities including Sonoma County Elementary Schools, Sonoma County Emergency Responders, and the LIVESTRONG foundation. Three amazing routes for different levels of expertise- I will see you at the Piccolo Route...32 miles for recreational and beginner cyclists. no big hills for me...just keep me in the flat valleys through the gorgeous redwoods and vineyards. (No way on that 103 mile Gran route no matter how beautiful.)
Levi and his GranFondo organization are one of the top sponsor's for the Santa Rosa stage of the Amgen Tour of California and part of the Amgen race follows a portion of Levi's "King Ridge GranFondo" route.
Here's a map of the Amgen tour Stage 1- just so you know I don't like to even drive Fort Ross Road or the Meyer Grade out by the coast in a car. But Coleman Valley Road between Occidental and the Sonoma Coast is one of my favorite backroad drives in the county.
Stage one (of the eight-stage race) begins in downtown Santa Rosa, with a route that will take the rides to Windsor, back to Santa Rosa and then West to the Russian River and the Sonoma Coast before returning to Santa Rosa.
The race events open on Friday at Sonoma-Cutrer Winery (again one of our favorite wineries) with a kick-off gala...the Santa Rosa Soiree, a chance to meet and greet the teams and riders. Live music, artisan food, delicious wines, epic scenery and a unique auction - all at the kick off party. (By the way, Thursday May 10th is also Bike to Work Day so I guess officially we could say the event starts on Thursday.)