Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Backfire, Amgen Style

       Snow has been recorded in Tahoe every month of the year. We've seen it in May, June  and October (and every other cold month of the year), but not yet in July, August or September. But legend has it, that it happens. Last year it snowed Memorial Day weekend. No big deal.                                           
      The Amgen Tour of California is a cycling race in it's infancy (this is it's 6th year), and follows  the model of the European (and well known Tour de France) races. It has been growing every year, and this year it attracted 19 teams. This is the first year that it's come to Tahoe. Stage 1 was to kick off in South Lake Tahoe (traveling around the lake 1.5 times) and Stage 2 was to kick off in Squaw Valley (leaving the lake and heading down to Sacramento).  Having the Tour come through your town is a huge draw because of the crowds and revenue that it promises. Towns jockey for the chance to host a stage.
       Initially Jon and I were looking forward to hosting some friends at our house and walking down the street to see the tour zoom through Tahoe City. Soon it became apparent that both of us would be working all day, due to the tour. But we were still looking forward to the buzz around town.
       Last week preperations for the race were in it's final stages. I attended meetings, Tahoe City set up bike art and banners, restaurants advertised specials, we were wearing jeans and t-shirts. It was sunny. Friday arrived. Everyone was in their final preparations. Saturday came. Town was definitily a buzz. People were cycling the lake to get in on the action. We took a long walk and saw teams on training rides with their team vehicles trailing them. Town was busy, it was sunny and mild. 
       As forecasted, all of that changed quickly. Saturday evening temperatures cooled and Sunday night (I was up 3 times with Nolan) I awoke to find more and more snow piling up on our porch throughout the night. This is not unexpected for us for May, but I think it was unexpected for Race organizers. 
       On Sunday morning, things were not looking great. I headed to work to prepare for the 7 teams and all of the Tour staff that were to be arriving soon. Throughout the day the weather, and updates on the race grew worse and worse. This is what the view from my office window (don't mind the glare)  looked liked on Sunday morning. Not ideal for a bike race.
We were preparing a parking lot for all of the team vehicles,
and mechanics. I thought that power to the parking lot was 
going to beour biggest issue. When I got to work it was
 very apparent that getting our lot
plowed was going to be the bigger issue
 (this was after 5"+ of snow had been plowed)
      There was a lot of anticipation for the race. The start was delayed, and hours later it was cancelled outright. After the cancellation a lot of cold riders and support staff started to arrive to the resort (I think they had all been standing outside at the starting line for quite a while). 
The parking lot that should have been busy with spectators,
mechanics, and some media was pretty quiet. And white.

Because riders didn't get their exercise in that day,
they set up shop all over the resort to spin.
Even in the snow.
Unfortunately, the snow continued through the night and 
Stage 2, which was set to start in Squaw Valley
was moved down to start in the foothills. 
Talk about a bust.
In the 6 years of this race, a stage had never been cancelled, 
and in Tahoe, two were cancelled. 
The race was expected to bring $3 million in revenue
to the Lake Tahoe Basin.
 Businesses probably lost money.
Tahoe City prepared to have 10,000
people line the street. 
There were an estimated 200 people in town.
It was sad. 
Maybe they'll be back?
I'm tired of talking about it, but in case you're wondering
it's still snowing three days later.
Luckily we have some sunnier things to look forward too soon.
This weekend we're going to a 1st birthday party and
we're gearing up to go camping for Memorial Day weekend. 
I'll take pictures!

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