The eighth annual Amgen Tour of California will kick off eight days of world class racing in Escondido May 12, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see 128 of the world’s most popular and elite cyclists competing for the first stage win. Looking for the best spots to up close and personal? Then consider the following locations
- Downtown Escondido – It doesn’t get any better than Grand Avenue and Broadway where the start and finish will take place. If you want to get a look at the riders and their bikes, or snag a photo or autograph, this is the place. Most of the riders will start warming up an hour or more before the start and you can often times catch them riding around some of the local streets in small groups or individually. The race sign-in area is also another good place to get a good look at the riders. Also, check out the Lifestyle Festival, which will host entertainment, food and refreshments, big-screen race viewing, vendors and more from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Ramona (Main St.) – First Sprint of the Tour!
- Dudley's Bakery – Long straight away coming to you as they turn on to 76 Hwy.
- Mesa Grande Climb – Three-quarters of the way up you will be able to see racers in the valley and then coming up the grade. First King of the Mountain point.
- East Grade Ascent – Scenic spots along the way up are great. At the top, the second King of the Mountain points.
- Cole Grade Road Ascent – Best climbing spot, last categorized climb, exhausted cyclist, 6.9% grade average.
- Lake Wohlford Road Descent – Speeding down at 45 to 50 mph.
- Finish Line – Everyone wants to see the finish, but it will be very crowded (10-12 people deep). If that’s what you want to see, then get there early, stake out your turf, and stay there. Escondido Boulevard also is a good place. It’s long, wide, and flat, so you can see the riders coming from a long way off and watch them as they pass. The closer you are to the turn onto Grand Avenue, the more exciting it will be. It will also be more crowded in that area (3-4 people deep).
If you choose to view the race from locations outside of Escondido, plan to get there early. If you decide to watch the race from the top of East Grade Road at the top of Palomar Mountain or the top of Cole Grade Road in Valley, keep in mind you likely will not be able to get from either of these locations back into Escondido for the finish.