Tom Zirbel: May is the new February

Poor Amgen Tour of California

Poor Amgen Tour of California. They can’t seem to catch a break with the weather. Some of the crummiest weather I’ve ever raced in has been at the AToC. I could see why when the race was in February in Cali. Being the rainy season in the north and mid portions of the state, you’re basically rolling the dice every day that you go out for ride in those parts. So, the race organizers adapted and moved the race to May. Risky maneuver to compete with the Giro but the better weather would worth the risk, right?

Ugh. And now they had to cancel a stage and shorten another stage even in May. On top of that, our first full distance stage is accompanied by no less than 3 hours of chilly rain. Forget the riders, you should pity the poor race organizers who worked so hard and envisioned beautiful, legendary California weather for the entirety of this race. But, for the record, today did not even compare to the misery that I and others experienced in the Seaside to San Luis Obispo stage in 2008. That was quite awful and almost caused me to make a career change.

I want to come clean and tell you that I feel somewhat responsible for the weather thus far in this year’s edition of the AToC. It’s because I’m basically in “February” with regards to my season ramp up and fitness. I had a laughably scant amount of time to properly prepare for a race of this caliber so it really does feel like the AToC continues to be run in February to me. I’m not saying that’s definitely the reason for the crummy weather, but it’s one possibility.

Finally, today’s fun observation concerns the ‘neutral rollout.’ For big races like this, often the start city will have a neutral rollout that basically means we racers do a few parade laps so that the people in the start city can get a good look at us and cheer if they choose to do so. We are not allowed to race during the neutral rollout and we must remain behind the lead car at all times. Typically, these are intended to be at a leisurely pace, like ‘blowing kisses and waving to the crowd’ slow.

Today, that was not the case. Keep in mind that I’m a bigger dude (actually, I’m pretty sure I’m the biggest dude at this race), but I had a normalized wattage of 375w for the 12 minute ‘Neutral Rollout’ today.

There was not much waving and smiling going on during that time. And to add insult to injury, neutral rollouts don’t count toward the total distance of the stage so we didn’t even get credit for the 7.5km that we did at a breakneck pace before the 197km stage. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

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