Today the Amgen Tour of California made its way through Solvang. It’s astounding to me that part of this major world class event is staged in our little Valley. The riders flew by, about a block from my house. I watched from the bottom of the hill, where they rounded the corner, so close I could have reached out and touched them! I didn’t want to get arrested so I kept my hands to myself :^)
The amount of people thronging our streets was pretty amazing. The booths, the groupies, the traveling masses that accompany this race — it’s overwhelming. It’s not every day that you see a jumbo tv screen on Copenhagen Drive, towering over thousands of people, each hoping to catch a glimpse of the riders speeding by. Our population seemed to have quadrupled for the day.
One of my neighbors, a semi-pro biker, paid the thousand dollars to ride in the amateur pre-race. Other friends volunteered on the route or helped cook and serve food to the riders. For this one day each year, the town shuts down to accommodate the time trial. We don’t get mail, many roads are closed, schools are out and we all throng downtown to see the spectacle.
This is the third year that Solvang has hosted Stage 6 of the race, and the first time I’ve been up close and personal with it. Already the EZ ups are down, the gates have been loaded and the bikers have moved on to the next place.
And Solvang is back to being a small town.