Lance Armstrong Rolls Through Sac-Town: AMGEN Tour Start-Off

By Aaris A. Schroeder
February 19, 2009

I have never seen so many people downtown at once.  It wasn’t just natives of Midtown or even locals of the Central Valley.  People were coming out of all different CA counties and even out of state to see the AMGEN Tour of California. 

AMGEN is similar to the Tour of France, except that it is a tour of CA.  All different kinds of organizations, businesses and folks lined up the streets around the state capital.  I started my day at 10:30 am, handing out “Grid Maps” from with my friend Mykal.  Gridsters were posted at Buckhorn and as we made our way towards the capital on L St.  A guy approached us, handing out free chalk and we offered him a free map.  The sun was shinning with light-gray clouds coming in; it is going to rain soon.  I could hear the sound of cow bells and people applauding the bikers as the came around the capital.


A guy approached me and asked me how UBO Mag was doing, “Hey Aaris, how is the mag doin’?  I haven’t been in the game in a minute but I am about ready to come back in.  I have some friends of mine who have some hot music I’d like to put you to.”

I responded telling him that we are working on the online mag and that I was covering AMGEN.  He said Lance Armstrong just went by. 


We circled around to the booths and ran across Mike-Mike from The Brick House, he was really excited and we talked about the new Bicycle Kitchen on I St between 19th and 20th.  He told me that they aren’t related but I was still glad to see that there was a closer place to get nearly free bike parts in town.

Sacramento [Start of Race & Individual Time Trial]
Davis to Santa Rosa
Sausalito to Santa Cruz
San Jose to Modesto
Merced to Clovis
Visalia to Paso Robles
Solvang [Individual Time Trial]
Santa Clarita to Pasadena
Rancho Bernardo to Escondido

I could barely hear Mike-Mike as came with a crew of people on a home-made quad-bike creation, including a drum set and drummer on the back.  We said our good-byes and walked around to where some reggae music was being played on the grounds of the State Capital.  There wasn’t anyone watching since the focus was on the race. 

I did see a cruiser bicycle made for police.  Good for them, riding in style and stopping violence. 

We kept walking until we ended up on the corner of N & 19th.  My friends were having a BBQ, watching the race and enjoying a beer – it was getting towards the end of the race, so I cracked one open.

People across the street and next to us all had beers in hand, cheering on the bicycle riders and their entourages.  The support following in toe was police for protection, video and photographers as well as sponsors and possibly medical and bike-shop people. 


Lance was coming.  You could tell because the cow-bells were ringing and people were making as much noise as they could.  This was the last time Lance came around, his entourage quite large.  James Morales, UBO Magazine Senior Photographer said that when he was shooting, he didn’t know at first that it was Lance but he shot because of the applause level.  Then he looked and Lance looked so small compared to the police, sponsors and others following him around town. 

We handed out a few more “Grids” and then it was four pm.   It was raining and everyone packed up to leave.

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