CTS AToC Race Experience 2011

Have you ever watched the Tour de France, Giro, Vuelta or Tour of California stage races and asked yourself "I wonder what it would be like to..." Well, 21 others and I now have a pretty good idea. 

Welcome to the gonzo "bike ride" of a lifetime - the Carmichael Training Systems/Amgen Tour of California Race Experience. For 10 days in May 2011, we lived the life of a pro stage racer, riding every stage of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California starting out each day about 3 hours ahead of the pro peloton, staying in the team hotels, having dinner with the pro teams, and being fully supported like a pro team by our own follow cars, 3 race mechanics (no seat bags allowed), 5 soigneurs and 4 CTS coaches. In addition we were granted VIP access to the finish line each day including our team van being granted finish line access for the mountain top finishes on Sierra Rd and Mt. Baldy. It was nice to have them there when we finished those 2 days!  The joint CTS/AEG press release below provides a good description of the challenge and our adventure.  Better yet, read the narratives Alain Lambert and J-F Courville posted daily to their respective blogs.

Carmichael's mantra of "Eat, Sleep, Ride, Repeat" truly came to life as we often were up at 4:30am in order to have breakfast and transfer to the day's start early enough to get the head start we needed to finish ahead of the rolling road closures and fast approaching peloton. Aaron Gulley, a writer for Outside Magazine, joined us for the last two days. His story, posted on Outside Online, is below.

In the end we were successful because of our wonderful support crew and the truly great and passionate riders who gelled into a team, worked together and supported each other the entire week. Our group was made up of world-record-setting 40 year old athletes to busy and highly committed executives, brain and cardiac surgeons, 3 people in their 60s and an inspiring 71 year old retired MD. We all finished the Race Experience in Thousand Oaks together, as a team, to high 5's, smiles, amazing memories and many new friends.

Click on the thumbnails below for photos and descriptions of each stage. Many of the photos came from others, particularly Renee Eastman, CTS Pro Coach and designated Camp Manager (alias Den Mother for a bunch of fun loving folks). All of Renee's photos can be seen in her Picassa Album. Photos taken by Michelle Jacques, our head soigneur and Dan Plummer, our chief mechanic are here and here, respectively.

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